Saturday, June 25, 2011

Second Stop: Switzerland

After spending three days in London, we went to Saint Gallen, in Switzerland, east of Zurich. In the six days spent in St. Gallen, we went exploring the area where we were staying.

The streets were very clean, and the parks were inviting -- there were many people on their lawns enjoying the weather, eating lunch, or simply reading books. We also saw lots of beautiful water fountains offering free fresh chilled water to refresh any thirsty passer-by.

In the buildings I noticed something extra that shows that in Switzerland they understand the reasons for not wasting water: all bathrooms use dual-flush technology, a double-button mechanism for flushing the toilets. That way one button can be used to flush using less water and the other to flush using more water. In a test performed in Canada it was verified that water consumption is reduced up to 68% by simply applying this technology. It has been widely seen in Europe, but it is not as common in the US.

At home, natural and fresh ingredients are what is mostly used. Some residents even grow their own fruit, vegetables and herbs in their own yard. Food gardening is very popular in the US too -- and getting more, and more popular each day according to the National Gardening Association latest garden market research. As Dawn.com reports, some families turned to home-grown foods for financial reasons but are sticking to it even after their difficult times have passed. In our case, we have just started our own food garden in our yard and are very excited about it, but we still have a lot to learn. In the meantime, it was a delight to have the opportunity of picking our own fruit and tasting some of that in the mountains, looking down at the city. What a beautiful place!

However, I did not see any recycling bins that could be used on the streets or even at the hotel. I found the official site of the city with some information online, but only in German... After some more research, I came across a forum in English for Swiss residents that has a few discussions on recycling and garbage collection. There I learned that recycling is more commonly done by using collection points and just a few items are to be placed at the curb. Even then, those items that can be placed at the curb may have to follow a pick-up schedule, such as paper and cardboard being picked up only once a month. Also, depending on the location, residents may have to purchase official bags to dispose of their regular garbage; they pay for the amount they throw away. This pay-per-bag system has been on and off in many different countries, including the US. We do not have that in our neighborhood, but in Maine, for example, this option was being recently considered.

All in all, even though I did not see much recycling going on in the city, I learned about their system and found out how recycling is done there. It is different, but that does not mean better or worse; maybe some ideas for us to consider in the future.

Recycle Brevard!