I know this topic might be a bit premature since the talk of Germany’s green policies is not until Friday but I was inspired to go ahead and write about my experiences there for this blog post. My entire family is from Germany so we go and visit them as often as possible. I went to visit this Christmas and I was amazed by how environmentally conscious the country has gotten over the years. For starters, I know this is starting to begin in America too, but I ended up carrying all of my groceries back from the store for my grandparents cradled in my arms because I did not realize you had to pay extra to get bags. I know here in the states some grocery stores are starting to do the same. The only one I am aware of is Aldi, which is a store based out of Germany. There was also a moment where I was talking to my grandmother and she was saying how she had to rethink how to package and store a lot of things since plastic bags are all but gone in Germany. I was taken aback when she said this because I am so used to plastic bags just being everywhere and being a product that people just expect to have. That moment made me realize how behind America is with some of its environmental policies.Everywhere in Germany, one sees houses with solar panels on its roofs, especially with any new construction. The houses are made of stone to better insulate so that costs can be saved with heating and cooling. Everywhere there are LED lights and in places such as northern Germany, wind turbines are part of the landscape.
The way the German political system is set up, they have a multi-party system. If a party gets a certain percentage of votes, they get to have a say in the German political system. The Green party in Germany has gained a lot of power and is not shy of exercising its power. In some cases, I had to listen to my relatives complain of how it can be taken to the extreme sometimes. For example, an entire new subway tunnel system was disallowed due to a certain species of lizard that called those rocks its home. Or, a new soccer complex was not allowed to be built since the floodlights would confuse the bats that inhabited the area. While these measures may seem a bit extreme, is it worse than just not considering what might live in the forest before we flatten down? Alternatives are also always trying to be found and compromises are possible.
Most of Europe has taken the initiative and talk of becoming more sustainable and environmentally friendly is the norm. In the mean time in America, environmental groups have to struggle for every step towards sustainability. How hard would it be to ban plastic bags? How hard would it be to encourage people to start to bring their own grocery bags. How difficult can it be to make sure that every new construction is run on some form of sustainable energy? Steps are being taken in many parts of the world to better the environment on a large level and I hope the time has come where America will do the same.
Thank-you for sharing your experiences with us, Liza! It’s so great to hear personal accounts such as this. As you know, the talk last Friday centered on energy, and there were a lot of helpful graphs, but learning about real experiences such as how people like your grandmother are having to rethink certain aspects of her life can be even more interesting.