What I learned on my vacation – it’s easier to be green

  1. We can live in cities and still respect the environment and use less natural resources and decrease our carbon footprint
  2. Markets (traditional) are good
  3. Trains are good

We can live in cities and still respect the environment

Amsterdam has a hundreds of years of history or dedication to the smart and responsible growth of their city. I hope that this Dutch ingenuity serves them well with the coming changes to the global landscape. I was in the grocery store and I noticed that they sold chocolate pudding in cartons. When I read the calories per serving I nearly flipped, but I guessed that if you’re riding your bicycle everywhere then you can afford to eat a few hundred calories worth of chocolate pudding.

EVERYONE RIDES BICYCLES IN AMSTERDAM! It’s really neat to see. Families cart small children and dogs in little trolleys or carts in front of their bikes. There are cars on the streets, presumably commuters from the suburbs, but I was astounded and impressed by how bicycle culture is the ‘transport culture’ in this city. If only we could build up or separate the bike lanes in Portland to make them more safe for bikers. Also, I noticed that there wasn’t a lot of macho-mountain bike culture going on or people dressed ridiculously in tight Speedo shorts and brightly colored biker wear, instead you find just a bunch of normal people riding their bikes. I’ve decided that my next big purchase is going to be a used city cruising bike. I live just a few minutes bike ride from the local grocery store so why not.

Also, most of the cities in Spain have recycling containers labeled on their streets. Huge containers that stand about 5 feet high. Alicante, I noticed, was nearly immaculately clean. There was no or little garbage strewn on the streets. Also, power must be expensive in Spain because no one uses an electric dryer to dry their clothes. Where ever you go, you can see laundry left out window sills to dry. In nicer neighborhoods, the apartments all have inner courtyards with balconies and common areas for hanging up clothes. In addition, I noticed that all the hotel rooms we stayed at require the insertion of a room key to start the power in the room. This insures that power won’t be lost from lights or appliances left on. I did notice that there were no digital clocks in the rooms.
jamon.jpgMarkets are good (I wish we had more of them)

In all three cities we visited in Spain we visited a public market of some sort. In Barcelona and Alicante we walked through the Mercado Central. The markets were amazing, brightly colored booths with spices, meats, and candies. I did find a sweets vendor that was selling several kinds of metallic non-pareil (sp?) decorations for cakes, as well as many kinds of dried and candied fruits. I was kind of pissed off that I couldn’t spend more time in the Barcelona market, but we were on a mission and could not stop. As we walked through the Mercado in Alicante, Eric puzzled, how can all these vendors could make any money if they were selling the same products right next to everyone else. I made the assumption that it was a combination of personal relationships merchants made with their customers as well as the general volume of people who would come to the market over anywhere else because the selection was good. No one is going to offer crap if they have to compete with all the other vendors. The reputation of the market as a great place to purchase goods holds firm with the people. The meat market here, is a horror fest for most vegetarians, but for those of us who partake, it sure beats having to settle for the water injected chicken at the Win Co. The fish and seafood vendors sold everything from snails, tuna steaks, something that looked like baby geoducks, and octopus. Also, I was able to buy and eat some of the most delicous Empanadas and Ensaymada (sweet bread) I’ve had in my life from the bakery vendors.


Alicante Mercado Central

Alicante Mercado Central

The front of the Mercado Central in Alicante


Trains are good

In Spain we traveled everywhere by train. When traveling between big cities it seems like most people in Spain use the train system. Now, I’m no scientist but I suspect that using this mode of transport is easier on fuel consumption that a couple hundred people driving their SUV’s from city to city. No doubt with fuel prices being what they are here, who would? I liked riding the train, it was pleasant, quiet, nice and I had the opportunity to finish knitting a whole pair of socks.

More about good things people are doing to reduce their carbon footprints:
Smart Growth (NRDC) – http://www.nrdc.org/smartgrowth/default.asp

1 Response to “What I learned on my vacation – it’s easier to be green”

  1. 1 klozter August 21, 2009 at 7:30 am

    In Holland, anyway, people don’t have dryers not just because electricity is expensive, but because there’s no space in the houses for an extra big appliance! Often people have to choose between a dishwasher and a washing machine in the kitchen. And in Spain, why not use the free, hot, open air?!

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