Travel has the magical effect of opening the mind up to different ways of life. The simplest tasks — having a meal, shopping, hailing a cab — all bring to light how there's more than one way to do everyday things and inspires deeper thought into how we can incorporate these insights into life back home. Here's a few things I've noticed.
In many European countries, laundry lines with clothing swaying gently in the wind are a common sight. Anyone who's ever collected a basket of sun-dried laundry understands the rewarding feeling of collecting a basket of fresh clothes straight from the line. And why not? Dryers drive up electricity bills and dryer sheets heated to high temperatures create hazardous fumes that fill the air and stick to clothes. Plus, clothes last longer when protected from the harsh heat of dryers. (The lint trap is a collection of all the delicate fibers tumbled off your favorite garments!)
A trip to Hong Kong was an eye-opener in terms of understanding just how much paper the average person uses in a given day while dining. Most HK restaurants did not offer napkins so one had three choices — purchase a packet, go without or keep a few in a pocket. After several days, non-locals like myself had no choice but to conserve how many napkins were used.
Reducing Plastic Bag Use
In Germany and Portugal, stores issue a small fee for plastic bags. In the states, we take for granted how common plastic bags are, often thoughtlessly bagging single items at the store. This is the precise reason why it's standard to see bags tangled in trees and floating in the ocean. Tote bags are fantastic because they are 100% reusable, easy to clean and sturdy for carrying even the heaviest groceries.
In Paris, common areas of apartment buildings are often illuminated with timed lights. When residents enter a building, there are switches sprinkled around hallways and stairwells. Give the switch a tap and the lights magically turn on and then off after several minutes. Makes sense, why light an empty hallway or lobby?
Have your travels inspired you to be green?