The Quetzal Education Research Center is a place to learn about the environment and conservation. But we don't just talk the talk; QERC prioritizes the principles of sustainability. We’ve found several ways to help promote and sustain the health of the valley in a number of ways. Check out a few below…

Waste Reduction

Due to QERC's remote location and the lack of general services available waste reduction is the first line of sustainability. Everything brought into the valley must eventually be taken out; therefore we take special care to minimize our waste. The first step is eliminating products with excessive packaging. Groceries are purchased in bulk; it is even better if we can find a re-use for the packaging. At the grocery store we request cardboard boxes instead of plastic bags. QERC favors local farmers and producers, especially those who provide goods in reusable or limited packaging. 

Instead of buying expensive and wasteful bottled water, we encourage students to carrying a reusable water bottle. Clean drinking water is available throughout most of Costa Rica. In rural areas a SteriPEN water sterilizer is a handy way to ensure clean drinking water. 


QERC utilizes a small-scale vermicomposting operation to handle organic waste. Worms break down kitchen food scraps, creating nutrient-rich compost. In turn this compost is used to supplement the soil in the native plant garden, and Aguacatillo nursery project.


QERC has the ability to recycle the following materials:

•   Clean and dry paper or cardboard

•   Plastic containers (bottles, jugs, etc.)

•   Tetra Pak or aseptic packaging (boxed milk, juice etc.)

•   Aluminum cans

•   Tin cans

•   Glass bottles and jars 

Keep in mind, all recycled materials must be transported out of the valley to the nearest recycling facility, which is over an hour away. Transporting recyclable materials incurs a large environmental impact, as well as cost, so the best practice is to reduce waste in any way possible. All materials must be clean and dry before recycling. 


QERC is taking passive and active steps to reduce electricity use. Hot water at the field station is generated by solar power.  QERC enjoys plentiful light from skylights and large windows for during the day and a reasonable use of lights during the evenings. Students may help conserve energy by bringing only essential gadgets, and making use of daylight hours. 

Water Conservation

QERC's water supply comes from mountain streams within a protected reserve. While the supply is plentiful and sustainable, we encourage sensible use. Wasting water is a bad habit that can cause soil over-saturation, erosion, and waste management issues over the long term.

Best practices for conserving water are mindful use of the hose water in the garden, short shower times, and turning off faucets while brushing teeth.

QERC's water supply passes through two filtration systems to remove sediment and particles large and 5 microns before moving into QERC plumbing. Drinking water spigots within the station are further filtered down to .05 microns through an activated carbon filter. 

Pack Smart

Traveling leaves a big environmental impact, but it isn't an excuse to be wasteful. Keep these tips in mind to be a smart and sustainable traveler. 

•   Pack lightly. Stick with durable, neutral-colored clothing that can be easily mixed and matched over the course of your travel.

•   Chose biodegradable personal hygiene products. Purchasing some products will lower your pack weight. 

•   Pack reusable containers and bottles to carry on your trip. Clean and reuse while traveling to limit your waste production.

•   Carry only essential gadgets. 

•   Stick with rechargeable batteries and a lightweight battery charger.