Going Green: Energy Conservation in Spain

Nicole Davis is a student at Xavier University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Valencia, Spain.

With all of the news of climate change going around, there is a rise in the “green initiative” among many parts of the world.  “Going green” means that you are more aware of your impact on the environment and choose to live with that impact in mind.  In Spain, there are many things that people do to conserve resources such as recycling, using public transportation, and reducing consumption at home.

In Spain, almost everyone recycles. Instead of having one dumpster for everything, there are different colored cans labeled for different products, and you can find these bins in the streets, stores, schools and even the beach.  Green is for glass, yellow is for plastic, blue is for paper, and gray is for general trash.  People often separate their trash at home instead of throwing everything together, and they look for ways to reuse everyday items instead of throwing them out.  Glass jars can be used over and over to store food, and plastic bottles can be refilled a few times before being recycled.  Because the cans are commonly found together, people don’t even think twice about recycling.  Even the restaurants recycle.

Transportation is a huge way to conserve energy in Spain.  Having a car is somewhat of a luxury, and those who have cars do not drive often.  The public transportation system is so easy and convenient to use that most people commute by metro, bus, bike, or on foot.  In Valencia, the metro system travels to most popular places and costs 7.20€ for 10 passes.  The buses travel anywhere and everywhere, some even late at night!  A 10 passes costs 10€.  When you swipe your card, you can ride free for an hour, which allows you to switch buses for no charge.  The bike system (ValenbiSí) is available 24/7, and you can exchange bikes all over the city for a 30€ annual pass.  Using public transportation is a great way to enjoy the fantastic weather, too!

Nicole Davis BikesMany families conserve resources at home, not just to save money, but also to protect the environment.  No food is thrown away; it is very common to eat leftovers from lunch or dinner, but in a new way.  For example, leftover meats or vegetables can be put together in a simple rice dish, or used with eggs to make tortillas.  Some homes have an air conditioner, but it is not used.  Families prefer to leave the windows open all day and enjoy the fresh air instead. This practice also allows for more natural light.  When showering, people in Spain turn on the water when they need it and turn it off when they don’t, instead of letting it run the entire time.  The toilets also come with two flushes to conserve water.

Spain certainly isn’t the only place where these practices can work to save energy and resources! There are many ways you can try to be more energy efficient wherever you are.  Check to see if your city has a recycling program. Most cities do, and it is very easy!  Also, try creative cooking with leftovers, and open your windows for some fresh air every once in awhile.  Every little step makes a difference in helping the environment!

Want to learn more about life in Valencia? Check out “5 Reasons to Spend a Summer in Valencia”