Green Habits I’m Taking Home from Valencia, Spain

Haidyn Bulen is a student at Arizona State University, and is an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Valencia, Spain

Spain is a country with a diverse topography and varied climate zones, but it is perhaps best known for its Mediterranean climate along the east coastline, lending itself to warm, dry summers and mild winters. This envied endless summer vacation temperature often results in summer droughts and unfortunately, in recent years due to a plethora of climactic and economic issues, many of the rivers in Spain, including the largest- Rio Tajo- are drying/have dried up. This has made water more scarce, and consequently, a more valued resource. Fortunately, in my experience here so far, the Spaniards have been extremely responsive to their water scarcity issues and have demonstrated green habits that every country and individual could and should implement.

An view of the city of Valencia from El Miguelete, a church tower in the city center.

One of the most noticeable green habits I have witnessed so far is the shortened length of showers. My host family, along with many other Spaniards I have had conversations with, have stressed the importance of taking fewer and shorter showers here due to the high cost of heating the water. In fact, in a survey conducted recording various bathing habits around the world, Spaniards took some of the shortest showers, averaging just 2 to 5 minutes per shower, whereas North Americans spend around 13 minutes in the tub per shower. Additionally, Spaniards tend to turn the water off when not rinsing, eliminating excess use of water. Further, when washing dishes, I have noticed that instead of rinsing each dish individually, my host family scrubs the dishes while the water is off and then rinses them all together at the end, once again reducing the overall amount of water used.

An additional simple sustainable tendency that I am taking home is the habit of always turning off the lights. Here, nothing is lit up if you are not explicitly using it. The hallways of apartment buildings are dark unless you flip the switch on when you need to unlock your door. Even hotels have implemented sustainable measures and require you to put your room key in a slot on the wall that functions as a switch to turn on the electricity. This ensures that when you leave the room, it is impossible for you to leave lights on or electricity running.

These measures all seem fairly simple, but a majority of Spaniards practice these sustainable habits daily, making a noticeable difference in how water and electricity is used in Spain versus in the U.S. Spain overall has taught me easy measures to take when I get home to not only reduce my own electricity bill, but to actively reduce my energy consumption and contribute to creating a more sustainable world.

A piece of artwork found on the streets of Rome highlighting the necessity for sustainable habits as anthropogenic climate change continues to reduce the green spaces on our beautiful earth.



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