There are many reasons I uprooted my family from our idyllic life in a big city to move to a developing country, including wanderlust, professional catalysts, and the need to reconnect as a family. The process of deciding to move to Costa Rica was a tedious one and I often went back and forth with the decision to leave my old life behind. I hit bottom one day at my HEB, the grocery store I had been going to for 8 years. It was then that I realized I needed to get out of the American commercial debauchery lifestyle and fast.
The day started like every other. I had a day off from work that Monday, so I woke up, went for a run, prepped school lunches, and made my grocery list. I dropped off the kids at school and headed to HEB. One of the items on my list were paper towels, which I normally bought in bulk at Costco. I had run out of paper towels before my next monthly Costco trip, so I figured I could buy a 3-pack at HEB to tide us over until then.
I went to the produce, deli, bakery, dairy, and dry goods sections first, as I had been doing for 8 years. Then I came to the aisle towards the end of the store that housed the paper towels. HEB had an entire row of paper towels. An entire row! You have to understand that my HEB is huge! The paper towel aisle was probably 25 yards in length. I am not kidding! If you have ever been to an HEB Plus! in Texas, you will totally understand.
I felt overwhelmed and disgusted. I did not need 100 choices of paper towels: white, print, double-duty, triple-duty, extra soft, select-a-size, environmentally-friendly, 3-pack, 12-pack………I seriously wanted to scream. All I kept thinking about were the trees that died making all of these paper towels so that yuppies like me could have an entire aisle of choices.
I grabbed a 3-pack of paper towels and finished my shopping with a heavy heart. I knew at that point that I needed a break from the rampant consumerism that infected every American family. We had already decided to move to Costa Rica, but we had not taken any steps towards our goal. That day I started filling out the children’s applications for Centro de Educacion Creativa.
After living in Costa Rica for 2 months, I have to say that I am much happier with our consumption rate here. We produce a lot less trash. We buy a lot less stuff. We don’t use napkins, paper towels, disposable tableware, or dryer sheets. We don’t have a car. We use a lot less electricity. Our house is much smaller. We spend more time outdoors. And I do not feel deprived at all.
I am not saying that you have to move to Costa Rica to live a sustainable, eco-friendly, simple life. I am sure that when we return to the US (if we go back!), our lifestyle will mimic the practices we have acquired here. I do encourage everyone out there to think about small ways they can reduce, reuse, and recycle. It takes baby steps to redesign your life….and the planet!