Sustainablity at Ojo del Mar
"Our mission is to inspire people and to help them get access to their deeper understanding, their intuition of what is wrong and what is right. To us, it feels good to not create a toxic environment with a building. We are so used to artificial, industrial living that we have become immune to nature. We want to take people back to the roots, to the tribe, to the ground. To the ecological choreography of the planet."
- Nico Fischer
We've been commited to sustainable building and responsible tourism practices since our founding in 2000, and are proud to share the ways we work to live lightly on the Osa Peninsula. As part of our mission, we commit to:
A Sustainable Approach to Building
In the development of Ojo del Mar, local participation and minimal environmental impact were given priority. We can proudly say that no trees from the rainforest were cut to build Ojo del Mar. The main lodge and guest cabins were constructed with sustainability in mind, taking advantage of natural light and ventilation, and complementing the natural environment.
Lodge buildings cover less than 1% of the 1.5 hectare rainforest property. The Casa Grande, Cabinas and outbuildings are each site-specific in their design, adapted to each plot, leaving as much of the existing foliage intact, and adding bridges, paths and other features to ensure and encourage conservation of the jungle habitat.
In addition to bamboo, we also use other renewable rainforest materials in our lodge. Roofs are made from ‘suita’ palm leaves and using traditional local building styles. We make all the furniture ourselves, ensuring that all wood used is from reforested trees, not primary rainforest.
Solar Energy & Natural Water
In addition, the lodge was built to be energy efficient, using solar power only and an on-demand propane gas for cooking. Our Lodge is illumnated by solar-powered lanterns and candles to provide light for guests and staff.
Water needs and usage were also carefully planned in the design. All water is potable and comes from our own well. Wastewater is treated in septic tanks without adding any synthetic chemicals — an absolutely state of the art system.
Ojo del Mar does its share to promote sustainable food practices. We have developed a concentric-circles model for sourcing our products: Priority is given to items produced on site, followed by our immediate community and then Pto. Jimenez. This allows us to ensure the highest quality, as well as to promote and support local producers and businesses.
We get most of our food from our organic gardens or local farmers and fishermen, which largely cuts out the need for packaging. We will not support industries that are harmful to the local environment (e.g. shrimp harvesting involving dredging; fishing for grouper and marlin, which are endangered worldwide.)
Waste Prevention and Recycling
All employees are trained to separate waste into organic, inorganic, and plastic, glass, tin and aluminum. We do not use plastic drinking bottles. We keep re-usable containers for storing juices, sauces etc. We send aluminum, plastic and glass to the recycling center in Puerto Jiménez, and from there to San José to be recycled at institutions dedicated to doing so.
Liquid soap is available from dispensers in each shower, to avoid unnecessary waste, and all cleaning products, including those that we provide for personal hygiene, are biodegradable. Paper products purchased are from recycled paper. Organic waste is used for creating organic fertilizer in a controlled environment.
Each guest room contains information about the lodge, local area, tours we offer and advice for how guests can practice ‘responsible tourism’ and reduce their damage to the local environment.
Our tour guides inform guests about local conservation issues, how we minimize our impact on the Golfo Dulce and about the efforts to conserve a biological corridor for the Osa Peninsula.
We are also working with the Costa Rican Tourism Institute for our Certificate in Sustainable Tourism, and support organisations such as the Rainforest Alliance to promote responsible tourism.
Controlled Community Development
We believe it is extremely important to be actively involved in community development. Nico is co-founder of Women of the Osa (WOO), a group of committed volunteer women who are striving for conservation, education and ecological awareness to preserve one of the most intense reservoirs of bio-diversity on Earth. This organization works to design, implement and aid projects with public-private partnerships to protect the Osa. A unique and distinguishing factor of WOO is the perspective that these women bring to conservation.
WOO is currently supporting several projects, including the “No More Garbage Campaign,” a waste management and recycling project in the local rural areas. This includes one of WOO´s big efforts- the development of a recycling center for the high school in Puerto Jimenez.
The existence of the recycling center will accomplish several goals- to help fund an educational project that teaches children about the environment; to satisfy the responsibility we all have to protect that environment; and to create a recycling center for townspeople, as well as the lodges of the area, to use. In this project, WOO is also educating the local communities about the benefits of recycling. As start-up problems with the recycling center are resolved and knowledge is gained, expansion will be possible and the program will be available to other communities.
The Butterfly Club awarded Ojo del Mar with the highest score of 5.0 for its ecological excellence.
You can access the entire report for details on the current and planned sustainability efforts at Ojo del Mar.