This Little Piggy Saved the Planet

IT loves green hotels. IT loves animals. So what could be better than putting animals to use to help sustain eco-lodges? Not a whole lot. recently reported on one Costa Rican eco-lodge that is doing just that.

Lapa Rios Ecolodge is nestled on a 1,000-acre private nature reserve in Costa Rica’s last remaining lowland tropical rain forest. Its owners, John and Karen Lewis, are going above and beyond the forest canopy to make sure that their eco-lodgings are sustainable: They’ve installed solar panels; only hire local workers (currently they employ more than 50 people); and help fund the Carbonera School, which provides educational facilities in a very rural area that previously had little sense of community. Their lodge serves as a protective barrier to the flora- and fauna-rich Corcovado National Park (it raises money to fund park rangers to patrol the park), they only use biodegradable products for guests and employees, and renewable materials were used (about 70%) to build the bungalows. But perhaps most intriguingly, they have an extensive waste management system that employs its pigs to make renewable energy.

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Yes. Muddy, squealing pigs. Karen told how it works: First, guests’ food scraps are fed to the lodge’s resident swine. As a result, the pigs produce methane that workers then trap and funnel to the kitchen. That methane fuels the kitchen stoves that make the food, and the eco-cycle goes on from there.

Don’t let this rustic description fool you. Lapa Rios’s 16 suiita-thatch bungalows, gourmet meals, and 29 guided tours are enough to entice even the most luxury-seeking tourist.

So there you have it. An eco-lodge with sustainable animals. Sipping mojitos ticos from ocean-view hammocks. John and Karen know just how to make IT happy.