Circular economy: Community engagement and sustainable models

Authored by:
Vanessa Correa

Vanessa Correa

Written by Lennae Starr (Whitman College), Internship in Sustainability and the Environment


This October, my internship was with the Monteverde Commission for Resilience to Climate Change (CORCLIMA), working to educate the people of the Monteverde zone about the new Value-Added Tax (IVA), the electronic receipt system, and the benefits of a circular economy. CORCLIMA is at the heart of Monteverde’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions, taking the lead to educate people and implement sustainable practices.

A big challenge keeping Monteverde from reaching their goal of zero emissions is an ineffective waste management system. Decomposing organic matter, especially in wet, anaerobic conditions releases a lot of methane, which is a greenhouse gas (GHG) even more potent than carbon dioxide. The nearest landfill is over 40 kilometers away, which amounts to a lot of trucks driving back and forth.

Circular economy diagram

The idea of a circular economy incorporates essentially all waste back into the system of production, eliminating emissions and landfills. Before doing the project, I had a very vague sense of what a circular economy was, but I have since learned so much about it and how it can combat climate change.

Participating at the San Luis farmers markets

Part of my time was spent developing a game to display at the San Luis and Santa Elena farmers markets, and I decided to go with a Jeopardy-style game that tested peoples’ knowledge about a circular economy, climate change, sustainability, and local production. I also made instructions on how to create the board again if other people from CORCLIMA would like to use it in the future. Since what drew me to this internship was the opportunity to engage with the community and learn more about the steps the people of Monteverde are taking to become more sustainable, I was glad to be able to interact with people at each of the fairs.

At the Santa Elena farmers market

I feel that my biggest accomplishment from this internship is the IVA/electronic receipt system information sheet. It was tricky to navigate the Ministry of Finance’s website, and sometimes the translation wasn’t good so I’d have to go back and forth between languages to understand. I really hope that putting the basics together into one sheet of paper, along with links to websites and videos where people can learn more, will benefit the community -- especially the people who don’t have reliable internet or access or who aren’t computer literate.

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