Could developing countries lead us all out of a fossil-fuel dependent world and into a healthier future?

This is the dream of the thought leader we’re featuring today: Monica Araya. She has her Ph.D. in environmental management from Yale University and focuses her work on creating a zero-emission society. And the first society she’s looking at? Her home country of Costa Rica (and they’re really, really close to making this a reality!)


Source: PxHere

On this edition of Saturdays Around the World on EWC, we’re discovering how choices with tremendous foresight, made back in the 1940s, had made it possible for the gorgeous and growing country of Costa Rica to go an astounding 299 days without using any fossil fuels for energy in 2015, 250 in 2016 and a full 300 days in 2017. 1

Here’s Monica Araya, co-founder of Costa Rica Limpia, on the TED stage in 2016 discussing what steps Costa Rica has taken to see such success with renewable energy and where the country is at with the process of adapting their transportation practices to become 100% free of fossil fuels!

Via: TED  2

What kind of world do we want?

Costa Rica is an example of a country coming together and planning – way ahead of time –  for their healthier, more cost-efficient and productive future. They’re proving that development and environmental health are not choices that need to be made independently of each other. But this all starts with the people, and if they’re asked if they’d prefer to be able to generate their own electricity, or have a standing army, we’re guessing that most would now be on board with their forefather’s choice.

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Araya gave this example of this natural impulse in an interview with Diane Toomey of Yale Environment 360,

“I took a taxi the other day. The driver did not know I worked on these issues, and I said, “What would you like next year?” Then he says, “If I had more money, you know what I would love? I would love to have a solar panel on my house and have my own energy.” Imagine! I was almost about to hug him. “ 3

If you had the option to independently generate your own electricity, would you?

There’s a new generation of living happening…

And it may just include very conscious choices to save our planet for everyone!

If you’d like to discover a wealth of knowledge about how this journey is playing out in places all over Latin America (and they may be leading the world on this) take a look at the website at Their mission is to challenge the conventional wisdom on integrating policies that advance development, the environment, and socio-economic goals.

Is Monica Araya talking about the ultimate “UpCycling”?

“UpCycling” is a growing movement we’ve written about before on EWC. It is the very deliberate use of things we might otherwise waste and usually, it includes things already have a lot of. I guess that’s exactly what Ms. Araya was advocating for today!

Robert Bezeau is another thought leader who has been doing this in Panama with sustainable houses. We visited the Plastic Bottle Village on a past Saturday Around the World, take a look:

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Oh, here’s a fun fact about Monica?

In December of 2016, she became the first Latin American woman to join the world’s largest all-female expedition to Antartica! How cool is that? 4

It was the inaugural trip for Homeward Bound, whose initiative is “to heighten the influence and impact of women with a science background in order to influence policy and decision making as it shapes our planet.” 5

Seems like they’d be a pretty awesome group of people to hang out with.

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it” — Albert Einstein 

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  1. Dockrill, Peter. “Costa Rica’s Electricity Has Run Entirely on Renewables For 300 Days in 2017.” ScienceAlert. N.p., 23 Nov. 2017. Web. 28 Mar. 2018. <>.
  2. “A Small Country with Big Ideas to Get Rid of Fossil Fuels | Monica Araya.”YouTube. TED, 06 Sept. 2016. Web. 28 Mar. 2018. <>.
  3. Toomey, Diane. “How Costa Rica Is Moving Toward a Green Economy.” Yale E360. Yale, 05 Jan. 2017. Web. 28 Mar. 2018. <>.
  4. Monica Araya, Electric Cars, Renewables, Zero Emissions. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2018. <>.
  5. Homeward Bound Projects. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2018. <>.

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.