Saturday, July 20, 2013
Germany Sustainability Trip - Day Six - Last Day in Germany...
As the last day of the trip, I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about everything, in general, we have seen that has shown the sustainable practices those who live in Germany deal with every day. From toilets to hotel rooms to trash cans, sustainability is everywhere. In our hotel room, the key card is used to activate the electricity used in the room. If we leave, we have to take the key card with us, and when we pull it out of its little resting slot, all the electricity turns off with it. When we return, we plug or little card back in the slot, and the lights turn right back on! Energy savings, that’s important in terms of sustainability.
In saving energy, there’s also the no central air conditioning thing (and no ice!). The hotel rooms didn’t have units, not even window units. All we had was open windows to cool the room down. Americans, especially Texans, tend to take central air conditioning for granted, ad electricity in general. From a previous study abroad, I know electricity is expensive, but it’s so readily available here in the States, it just doesn’t register in our minds. Especially in Texas, where we have our very own grid just to ourselves (check out this cool little map to see what I mean http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=110997398 -Eastern, Western… and Texas).
Then there’s the toilets. Whether in our hotels or any of the other places we’ve gone, water conservative toilets are there. With those little buttons (though none of us really know which button serves which purpose), the appropriate amount of water can be selected. And quite a few places were automatic- automatic flush, automatic water to wash our hands, automatic towel dispenser, and one place an automatic dryer, all of which can be argued to be for sustainable purposes, since if it’s automatic, it means you can be limited in how much you use.
Transportation is a big one. In the States, we all drive. In Germany, however, there’s public transportation, proper bike lanes, and lots and lots of walking. We were also informed of a tax on old cars, as they pollute more, all of which adds up to a better way of keeping the world a less toxic place to live, easing up on global warming and all of that.
So Sunday is back to the States, back to central air, cars, and cold drinks. Oh well, good and bad.