Before I left the United States, I would have considered myself to be a very environmentally conscious person, and sort of unique because of that. I recycle, eat 100% plant-based, pick up trash I find lying around, love to plant all kinds of greenery, drink from a refillable glass bottle, and much more. At least where I come from in New Jersey, these things do not seem to be the norm, but something people do because they care deeply for this planet and the future generations to come. But here in Scotland, I have found that things are VERY different, and in the best way.
For starters, garbage cans, or bins as they call them here, have multiple labeled compartments that make it incredibly easy for you to sort your waste such as general waste, food waste, glass, mixed cardboard and paper, and cans. When all of those are presented to you, it makes it so much easier to do the right thing and recycle. I know that these types of bins DO exist in the states, but I have been seeing them way more often here, and even at my university! At the University of Stirling, outside of the dorms are multiple dumpsters that allow you to sort your trash in that same way! My flat mates and I have made separate bins in our kitchen, including a tupperware for our food waste and we are all totally on board with the recycling. I have found that when you give people the option to recycle and do the right thing and actually make it EASY to do so, people will hop on board!
I have also found that by charging people for every bag they use at the grocery store and many other stores, people are more likely to buy and use reusable canvas bags on their shopping sprees to save their money, which is exactly what happens here in the U.K! I have found that majority of the people here bring their own bags when they go out to do any kind of shopping, and so again I have jumped on the bandwagon! I have collected canvas bags that I bring with me when I shop because not only is it saving me money, it is saving the planet!
One of the most brilliant things that I have found in Scotland as far as environmentalism goes is an organization here at the University of Stirling called the Green & Blue Dream Team. In the atrium, there is a store called The Green & Blue Space- an environmental hub that is run by this organization. They accept donations of all kinds and sell them back to students for extremely cheap prices. These donations range from textbooks to kitchenware and home goods- everything a college student would need upon moving into a new flat and starting a new semester. The best part about this is that they are taking things that students would normally throw away and that would end up in a landfill somewhere and they are making it cheap and easy to reuse these items! This is affordable and really smart. They also have organic food and veg bags for sale and workshops that you can take part in centered around up-cycling, energy/carbon footprint reduction, and much more. My roommates and I went in and purchased a few things that were cheap and just as good as new while simultaneously supporting an amazing cause.
It has been inspiring to see so many people living in an environmentally conscious way and I will definitely make it a goal of mine to bring these ideas and ways back to the states with me when I return. There are so many great things happening around the globe as far as saving the planet goes, and even if these ways haven’t reached your neck of the woods yet, each person has the power to start them and make a change to help save our planet! I have never felt greener than I do here in Scotland, and I am loving it.
The world awaits…discover it.