terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

European Sustainability June 24, 2008

Filed under: education, food, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

I just got back from a trip to Europe, and have a few notes I found interesting. Itinerary: we flew from Cleveland to Philadelphia to Amsterdam, and then Prague.

There’s no recycling in Cleveland – to be sure, I even asked an employee where I could recycle my drink bottle and he said “oh, just throw it in the trash.” Philadelphia Airport had thorough recycling – with separate containers. Amsterdam gets its own paragraph. Needless to say, recycling is available in Amsterdam (except in the “travel-to-America” section). Upon return, we landed at the Akron-Canton Airport, which does recycle. What’s up, Cleveland?


We had a few hours in Philadelphia, so I look my husband to see the town. We both appreciate history, and especially the freedoms our founding fathers had in mind when they created this country. After our experience in the Cleveland Airport, I bought a pocket Constitution to comfort me for the remainder of the trip. Philadelphia is a beautiful city, where public transportation is used by anyone who isn’t already riding their bike. The streets are 2 lanes, so cars are bothersome. I wish we had more time there.


As we flew into Amsterdam, we saw fields of windmills generating power for this coastal city. The air was crisp and clean, and the city was just beautiful. We saw many more windmills in the city, and a fantastic irrigation system for the fields. I’m sure the food there was deliciously fresh!


IMG_0856Our final destination was the free country of the Czech Republic. Prague was just as beautiful as anything we imagined. And talk about public transportation! … We rode the tram, train, or bus throughout the city and found public transportation to be clean, safe, stress-free and overall enjoyable, even in a foreign language.

Recycling is available everywhere. Trash cans (and trucks) are noticeably smaller than recycling containers.

I especially loved the local markets that were specialized. Instead of going to a one-size-fits-all shop for your culinary desires, you can go to the fruit and vegetable market for the freshest produce, the bread store for delectable pastries and loaves, and the cheese store for dairy treats. There were locally-owned, specialty shops for everything you need. For convenience, all-in-one shops are also plentiful. It’s nice to have choices. How could I forget the tea shops? They were delightful!

The cuisine was largely meat-based, but we were able to find great vegetarian options everywhere we went. Our best discovery (our friend took us there) was an Afghan restaurant. Delicious!

Dresden and LeipzigDresden

We took a train to Dresden and Leipzig for a day trip. These beautiful German cities demonstrated reduce and reuse, and everyone rode bikes. It was fantastic. After the US firebombed Dresden in WWII, the city decided to rebuild itself using the same bricks that were used in the original buildings. They had to incorporate some new bricks, and the result is a city full of charred-black and new-white speckled churches and city buildings.

The train stations were nearly the highlight of this trip. They were so clean and efficient. The Leipzig train station doubles as a 2-story shopping mall. The food here was also good, but heavy, with lots of cheese and everything fried. Good thing we took public transportation so we were forced to walk off our calories.


Because of “security” rules, we weren’t as environmentally responsible as we would like. Therefore, we drank a lot of bottled water, and even had to use styrofoam. We refilled our bottles whenever we could, but were forced to go through so many security checks – despite leaving an airport – that we consumed and disposed of many bottles. One time we bought bottled water, but it was warm and tasted like plastic, so I dumped it out and filled it with drinking fountain water. Ha! It was unfortunate that we aren’t allowed to stick to our ideals. In the future, we will bring our empty bottles and have them filled inside the airport (if we’re lucky), and bring our mugs for coffee and tea. Do you think I’m allowed to bring my bpa-free metal bottle? I’ll try it.

Overall, it was a wonderful trip. We learned a lot about history, experienced the joy of public transportation, and saw some good friends. I can’t wait to get back!


5 Responses to “European Sustainability”

  1. Jean from 'The Rogue Nation' Says:

    Terra~ Again, you are amazing!
    I felt like I took a short trip with you per your writings. A one point I got a lump in my throat and water filled eyes because as I was reading your travel adventures I was warmly welcomed with the thought of your Oma and how much she would love to hear of your travels to Europe and I have no doubt at all she was with you all the way in spirit.
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and thoughts with us all.
    I am leaving for a few days for a little camping trip but plan to dig into the Prague history myself when I return.
    Your best friend from the Rogue Nation

  2. ada Says:

    i read a little bit ago that “green roofs” were popular in some parts of europe. if you don’t know what they are, these are roofs where they are growing plants on the roof. not in pots and such, but literally on the roof.
    have you seen any of these?

    and a bit of historical correction: dresden was firebombed by both the british and the united states.

  3. I love it that you bought a pocket Constitution to carry with you on your adventures! Re: recycling in Europe vs Ohio — sometimes it seems like we are living here in the dark ages while everybody else is living in a civilized approaching sustainable world.

  4. terra Says:

    I love green roofs! I did a post on them a while back. “Cool and Conserve with Green Roofs” I wish more universities would use green roofs. It would save money and take advantage of the big, flat roofs that so many university buildings have.

  5. terra Says:

    I forgot to mention the water. Bottled water is only for babies, and people who have lead pipes. If you order water at a restaurant, you’ll get mineral water. Czech Republic is known for its spas, which people travel to from all over Europe. In the spas, people drink mineral water. I didn’t like the taste, but some people don’t even notice the taste anymore.

    Water was more expensive than beer!

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