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Richard Johnson on Costa Rica

“At Puerto Jiminez airport, in the Costa Rican rainforest, a customs officer pushes a fresh, green coconut into my hand.

No tough questions about “the nature of my business” in his country � just advice. The milk in my coconut, he says, is pure enough to be used as plasma in an emergency situation, and will cure me of everything from club foot to flatulence. The Costa Ricans are No 1 on the Happy Planet Index � even their customs officers like a laugh.

But the Happy Planet Index is about more than a sense of humour. It ranks countries according to their ecological footprint � and Costa Rica is one of the most sustainable countries in the world. It follows a development model that tries to deliver “good lives that don't cost the Earth”, and when the customs officer drops the empty coconut into the recycling, he's happy to know that it will end up as matting or insulation. He's clearly “on-message”. “

Richard Johnson's piece in The Independent concludes honestly

“Sustainability is a real selling point at both Lapa Rios and Finca Rosa Blanca. But it's not just for those who are already committed to the cause � we can all benefit from the rosy glow that comes from Taking Nothing but Pictures, Leaving Nothing but Footprints, and Wasting Nothing but Time.

But one small thing. However sustainable bamboo might be, it still makes lousy-looking furniture. And biodegradable body wash sucks. For me, the consciousness-raising must carry on.”

It is a pity that there little about the economic impacts. It is not enough to leave nothing behind.

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