A Sustainable and Green Future
I was fortunate to spend a vacation week abroad. When visiting other countries one is instantly submerged in the culture, the food, and the music. Delving deeper, you start to explore the politics, the daily way of life and in my case, the practices and protocols in regards to recycling and sustainability.
The country I was visiting has started concerted efforts towards recycling plastics but still has some ways to go until recycling is considered mainstream. To increase efforts, not only does the public have to be on board and make necessary changes to keep recyclables out of landfills they also have to ensure the recycling streams are kept clean and pure. In addition, the municipal component of the country has to update their infrastructure focusing on waste recycling and then re-purposing of the recycled material; no small feat especially since the country, not surprisingly, has many other municipally focused priorities.
Happy to report that the focus on sustainability is further along. The LEED designation is something they have embraced, not only for new builds but for retrofits as well. Using the tools, protocols and practices they have gleaned from other countries, the acceptance, motivation and encouragement towards achieving LEED status is something that is quickly becoming more and more mainstream.
Focusing mainly on commercial and industrial structures, energy and water conservation is the main concern although green roofs and other SWM (storm water management) technologies have started to be encouraged as well.
As we well know, change can be difficult, but positive changes are steps in the right direction.
Small Steps towards a Green Future
One very interesting structure we visited was Window Stories which I feel is symbolic of the country’s positive mindset towards sustainability. An elderly gentleman had been collecting decorative windows for years. He salvaged these windows from buildings that were being torn down. He found beauty in someone else’s garbage. He found purpose and by doing so, kept the windows out of the garbage.
The elderly gentleman passed away and the community decided to honor him by using the windows to construct an artistic sculpture in a centrally located park. The Window Stories is open all day and is illuminated all night. Inviting and enticing people to explore how one man’s treasure which would have been considered to be trash by most, can be enjoyed by all. Mediation in the space is encouraged and often music is played.
Visiting the area, I was immediately taken with my surroundings. Sunlight streaming in, colored by the different panes of glass. There was a calm that is hard to convey. People enjoying and no two people seeing or experiencing the same thing.
I was encouraged that this country, one that is just taking the baby steps towards recycling, has made this tremendous effort to construct and display these windows, this “trash”.
Although their efforts towards recycling and towards all that entails, may be in its infancy, there is so much hope for a “green” future.
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