The dream of an eco-friendly future: How progressive are different parts of the world?

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Text by Carina Parke
Header Photo by Michael Olsen

We are indeed in the middle of a climate crisis but it is never too late to open your eyes. Some countries and cities already did and started to plan a more eco-friendly future. Do you want to get inspired? Here are some examples of green choices from different parts of the world. 

Let’s get real: The planet has suffered for us to live our best lives. Sure, it sounds dramatic, but what do needs, desires and wishes even matter, when our home, mother earth, is not safe anymore? Therefore, the discussion about sustainability and environmental awareness will never get old. It will follow us from now on and demand changes and innovations. 

Don’t forget, there is just one world, but so many different ways and plans. And they might lead to a brighter future step by step. That’s why we want to take them as examples and see how different countries and cities are facing the challenge and making more sustainable choices. Let’s have a look at some of them. 

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands

A mailbox full of advertisements can be pretty annoying because they end up in the trash eventually. Either you don’t care about it or you – especially younger generations – get information about sales and special offers on the internet. Why waste so much paper then? Amsterdam has recognized the problem and started a so-called “Opt-in” procedure. This means advertisements can only land in someone’s mailbox when the person has given their explicit approval. If the mailbox is not labeled with an approval, it is not legal to put brochures in there. And this leads to 6,000 tons less paper waste per year. 

Amsterdam found a possibility to reduce paper waste. (Photo by Anastasia Dulgier on Unsplash)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark

Copenhagen is a role model when it comes to eco-friendly choices and has already invested a lot in green alternatives. The capital of Denmark has one big goal: It wants to become the first carbon-neutral city by 2025. The climate plan focuses on four key areas, namely energy consumption, energy production, mobility and city administration initiatives. For example, Copenhagen wishes that in five years at least 75 percent of all trips through the city are done by public transport, bike or foot. 

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica might be a small country, but it does have big visions. The nation wants to fight against climate change with having no carbon footprint by 2050. “Not only are we going to reduce that footprint but we are going to bring many benefits with it”,” Environment Minister Carlos Manuel Rodríguez said. One of the goals is to modernize public transport and the creation of an electric train line as well as only having e-buses and e-taxis. Another project is expanding Costa Rica’s forests, while still stopping deforestation. And starting from 2021 using polystyrene will be forbidden in Costa Rica too. The material’s decomposition process is estimated to take up to one million years.  

When it comes to eco-friendliness, Costa Rica is a small country with big visions. (Photo by Esteban Venegas on Unsplash)

ETHIOPHIA

Under the name “Green Legacy” Ethiopia indeed built a momentum that will hopefully last for a very long time. The country in Eastern Africa started a reforestation campaign and planted more than 353 million trees in only twelve hours as Innovation and Technology minister Getahun Mekuria announced. Every citizen across the country was invited to take part in the planting project that is an answer to climate change and deforestation. 

JACKSON COUNTY, United States

A survey of Oregon’s local beekeepers came out shocking – according to the German innovations magazine “Trends der Zukunft” one third of the bee colonies in the state had been lost. It’s tragic because the animals have an important impact on certain parts of agriculture and they play a big role when it comes to the pollination of plants. That is where the solar farm Eagle Point in Jackson County comes in. It is not only producing alternative energy but is also a home for many bees now. The farm has integrated beehives as well as bee-friendly plants – and the whole ecosystem is supposedly benefiting from this. 

JAPAN

Is hydrogen today’s climate savior? In any case, Japan believes in the development of hydrogen energy as a potentially emissions-free source of energy and wants to set up 10,000 refueling stations worldwide within ten years, as “Reuters” reports. The country itself aims to be carbon-neutral soon after 2050 and plans to cut the cost of producing carbon dioxide-free hydrogen to less than a tenth of current levels.

Japan believes in the development of hydrogen energy. (Photo by Agathe Marty on Unsplash)

OUARZAZATE, Morocco

Goodbye, fossil fuels! You can find the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant on the edge of the Saharan desert. The Noor complex is set to provide enough electricity for more than one million homes and hopefully, reduce carbon emissions by over 750,000 tons per year. How does it work? According to “CNN” there are mirrors, which “focus the sun’s light and heat up a liquid, which, when mixed with water, reaches around 400 degrees Celsius. The steam produced from this process drives a turbine and generates electrical power.” The solar power is supposed to enable the storage of energy even for nights and cloudy days. 

TAIWAN

We have all seen the pictures of oceans drowning in plastic and animals being the victims of our consumption. Taiwan, for example, opened its eyes and announced to ban all single-use plastic such as straws, plastic bags and disposable utensils by 2030 according to “Hong Kong Free Press”. The whole process runs in phases and started with fast-food chains as well as all food and beverage stores not providing plastic straws for in-store use anymore. Minister Lee Ying-yuan is sure that taking action is the responsibility of all people and will create a better environment for future generations.