Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saving the planet or saving money?

France is much greener than the US. Not green like Yellowstone National Park, but green like a commune of hippies trying to save the planet. Every day we pass people on the road walking with empty shopping bags and/or a large sac on wheels. Groceries and shops here typically don’t even ask the question “paper or plastic?”, they simply expect you to bring your own. And so everyone has their own reusable bags that make the trip with them to buy just about anything.

Another ‘green’ aspect of this country is the lights. Almost all communal space (hallways, bathrooms, staircases, shared rooms, foyers) will be dark upon entry if you’re the first person in over a few minutes. Either a motion sensor will activate the lights or there will be a button glowing in the dark somewhere that you press and get 30 seconds to 5 minutes of light. Then the lights go back off and never risk being left on.

I’m guessing lights here didn’t always have timers and motion-detectors, and people may have once used disposable bags. So what brought about the change? Was it an inward desire to make changes that save the environment? Difficult, as portrayed in movies like ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ and as it continues to be a hot topic of discussion in the US with concerts and hip celebrity appeal, but little real change. Or was it simple economics? Supply was decreasing rapidly as resources disappeared, demand increasing, and thus prices went so high people had no choice but to institute changes? I really have no idea. Maybe when we get our first electricity bill in a month, I’ll have a clue...

1 comment:

Elizabeth V. said...

Actually, in Nashville all commercial building are requiring occupancy sensors. Eventually it will catch on everywhere in the US including residential spaces.