During this season of unchecked consumerism giving, many Kickstarter accounts, mine included, have been busy working overtime. Helping to bring innovative new products — brainy light bulbs, tabletop aquaponic gardens, compostable water filters, and on and on — to market via crowdfunding is great and all, but there are plenty of projects out there worthy of backing even if they don’t result in the eventual delivery of a nifty, newfangled invention. The Nosara Recycling Center in Costa Rica is one of them.

This past summer, a team of students from the New York Institute of Technology's School of Architecture and Design led by architect/professor Tobias Holler took to Kickstarter to raise funds for a most worthwhile design/build project: a recycling and community education center to service the beautiful but trash-plagued city of Nosara and surrounding communities. Scratch that. It’s not just Nosara with a serious solid waste problem. Rather, it’s the entire country of Costa Rica.

Explains Holler:

Costa Rica, a country more commonly known for biodiversity, national parks, and 
a thriving eco-tourism sector, has a severe municipal solid waste management (MSWM) problem; lacking appropriate infrastructure and policies, over sixty percent of the 2,400 tons of waste produced daily are put into open, unregulated dumps and less than ten percent gets recycled. 250 tons daily are dumped illegally into rivers and tropical forests, polluting ground water, threatening the health of local communities and destroying a fragile ecosystem, whose well-being is of critical importance not only locally but to the planet.
Long story short, the NYIT teams’ summer crowdfunding campaign was a success that enabled a small brigade of students (30 to be exact) along with a documentary filmmaker from Germany to travel to Costa Rica to commence work on the Nosara Recycling Center. In July and August, the site was graded, a concrete foundation and walls were set, and a wooden roof truss was built. Plus, filmmaker Ayana de Vos was able to shoot more than 60 hours worth of footage documenting the project.

Since breaking ground on the Nosara Recycling Center this summer, local workers have continued on with the project. However, “without help from the student volunteers, construction is progressing at a much slower pace. In order not to loose the momentum of this important community project it is crucial that we go back and help finish the building, and the documentary film about it!”

This is where the second Kickstarter campaign comes in. Having already reached an initial bare minimum goal of $9,000, the NYIT team is now aiming to raise a total of $12,000 by this Thursday, Dec. 13 at 9 pm. The additional $3,000 will go towards team members who want to return to Nosara this January but can’t afford to pay for travel expenses on their own.

The additional funds will also help with ground transportation in Costa Rica and film equipment that will allow de Vos continue shooting and finish her documentary, a film that aims to “educate a large audience not only about this important initiative, but more generally about issues of waste management in the tropics, enabling this project and the community of Nosara to become an example for sustainable recycling practices for other communities in Costa Rica and other tropical countries to follow.”

Good stuff. And as for the yet-to-be-completed center, the final design includes sustainable features such as rainwater collection, passive cooling, the use of salvaged and locally sourced/sustainable materials, reflecting roofing materials, and more including an entry lobby with a wall made from upcycled aluminum cans. And as mentioned, the Nosara Recycling Center — a project developed by Holler and the winning NYIT team in collaboration with the Nosara Civic Association, the Nosara Waste and Recycling Association, Sustainable Nosara, and a local architect and contractors — won’t just act as a facility for collecting, sorting, and selling recyclable waste that would otherwise be landfilled or illegally dumped ... a community education center is also a crucial element.

For lots more info and images of the progress made so far, head on over to the Nosara Recycling Center — or sLAB Costa Rica as it’s known — Kickstarter campaign page. And, of course, there are perks that come along with backing the project including T-shirts, key chains, DVDs of the documentary once it’s finished, and virtual high-fives.

For those who have ever visited Costa Rica, a travel destination that's truly been covered like a blanket here on MNN, a donation to sLAB Costa Rica will help to ensure that your next visit is even more breathtaking. I've never been myself, but I do have bi-weekly fantasies about spending some serious QT at a sloth sanctuary. Some day. Some day.

Via [Architizer]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Costa Rican recycling center seeks bottles, cans, crowdfunding
Visitors to Costa Rica are often too busy absorbing the natural scenery to pay mind to the country's huge solid waste problem. A recycling center may help.