Let’s Talk About Sustainability

Let me begin with a brief re-cap on what’s going on in the world; in the past 6 weeks Europe has experienced two heat waves. The temperatures are record breaking but you can do the research on your own. It’s honestly past discussing if climate change, animal poisoning, environmental degradation, etc. is real. It point blank is. I think this post is long overdue and a narrative that is not nearly talked about as much as it should be back in the US. But here, it is the talk of the town (mental note: let me add that to the list of things I love about Italy and Europe.) They are so wary of the environment and this impression can be noticed in many of their rules and regulations. I’ve also noticed restaurant, shops, and the people express their care for the environment. It’s loud and cannot be missed and that’s the kind of spirit a population should have towards the care of their environment. 

Italians show positive attitudes towards the environment by setting up recycling bins and enforcing that disposal is properly separated. You can be fined if you are caught incorrectly disposing of a product.

Some restaurants and shops have taken a further step and eliminated the use of plastic all together. Pictured to the right is a sign informing McDonalds customers that they are no longer serving straws. It inquires: Do you really need it? The answer is no, you don’t, and the environment appreciates you for this sacrifice!

At our hotel in Spain, they were sweet to remind us to leave the towels we’re still using hanging.Contrary to popular belief, using your towel once does not mean it’s dirty. A simple reminder like the one pictured on the right showed this and altered my typical hotel behavior. Before seeing this, I would’ve preferred new towels after every service clean but their little note has changed my ways. With this blog post, I really hope I can relay the overall message as effectively as the hotel relayed theirs.

Italians are culturally inclined to refrain from food and product waste. This was a topic that really interested me. Before studying abroad, I did some research and noticed Italy was one of the top countries at minimizing food waste and disposal. After my time there, I am not surprised. Food and product waste has been directly and indirectly frowned upon everywhere. Professors would lecture us to avoid using paper towels. My cuts, sauces, and sautees were never thrown out in my cooking classes but taken by the chefs to use in the schools restaurant after class. Fresh produce at the markets after closing hours are dispersed among the poorer communities if they are nearing expiration. There are food banks that accept non perishable and unopened food products. These are just a few sustainable activities that I noticed.

The responsibility is in our hands but we easily disregard or fail to notice how damaging our actions can be, as simple or complex as they are. That’s why reminders and policies are so important, they help us negate our actions through pointing out what’s clearly harmful. A simple reminder goes a long way and can be the first step to helping us become aware of the impact we have. This has become clear to me in my stay in Europe as I feel as though all the environmental-talk has prompted me to make eco-friendly choices. It’s a contagious culture that has re-programmed my train of thought to be more cautious. While mine is a success story, I can’t speak for everyone else, but I am confident the need to be more sustainable is a popular outlook taken from everyone who visits.

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