Tag Archives: poland

This exhibit showing the creative uses of recycled items is aimed at raising awareness of the sustainability movement in Poland. Photo: Kasia Marciszewska

Seeing Poland In A Green Light

Our associate editor and resident green blogger, Kasia Marciszewska, is currently traveling in Europe. While there, she stopped by her native country of Poland. Ever vigilant about the subject of sustainability, Kasia sought out Poland’s green side.

Visiting my home country of Poland is always a fun and exciting experience. It seems every time I come here something is different, as Poland continues to shift and grow with the changing times.

This visit proved to me once again how far the country has come, when I realized that Poland was taking “being green” to a new level.  The concept of eco-friendliness in some ways is new to the country, but upon closer inspection it seems that Poland was on the road to helping the environment long before it became popular.

One way the country is and has been reducing its environmental impact is through its transportation system. Many of Poland’s residents commute via public transportation, which includes trams, rail and bus. Though not always the fastest routes, public transportation is an integral way of life for the Polish people and definitely the greener way to travel.

One can easily travel throughout Poland on public transportation. The rail systems span the whole country, and you can travel with relative ease; from the northern city of Gdansk all the way down to Krakow in the south, it’s all just a train ride away.  Travel to neighboring countries such as Germany and the Czech Republic also can easily be done via trains, making visiting other countries ecologically sound.

Though transportation by car has steadily increased over the years, the sizeable difference is in the cars themselves, literally. Cars in Poland are taxed based on their engine size, so many people choose to drive cars with smaller engines (thus fewer emissions) in order to reduce their costs. That frugalness helps the environment at the same time (The price of gas in Poland is also extremely high, so using public transportation makes much more economic sense for most people).

Another “green” innovation in Poland is grocery bags, or rather the lack thereof. Many of Poland’s cities are making an effort to reduce plastic bag waste by simply asking customers if they need a bag. The catch? If you want a bag you’ll have to pay for it! A nominal fee is tacked on for plastic bags during your shopping, so a better, cheaper and greener alternative is to bring your own bags.

The cities of Gdansk, Inowroclaw, Tychy and Zabrze already have passed local laws to ban the free handing out of plastic bags, and many more cities are deciding on similar initiatives.

Poland is truly undergoing a cultural shift toward environmental friendliness. Awareness about the topic is spreading with more and more initiatives sprouting up all over the country.

I recently observed an exhibition at a shopping center in Wroclaw titled “Eco Fashion.” The goal of the exhibition was to demonstrate practices on how to recycle with a focus on fashion.  The campaign showed a multitude of creative ideas for recycling everyday items into clothes, furniture and more, along with games, prizes and interesting facts about recycling. For example, did you know that recycling one plastic bottle saves enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for six hours?

The entries varied in shape and size from a plastic cup coffee table to a dress made from garbage bags. But the overall message was heard loud and clear, eco-friendliness is here to stay in Poland — with many more “green” advances to come!

Play to Stop Campaign

Sustainable Europe — A Greener World, One Country At A Time

Fresh from my trip to Europe (specifically my native Poland), I decided to look into what our neighbors across the Atlantic are doing for the sustainability movement.

A survey requested by the European Parliament and the European Commission, coordinated by the Directorate-General for Communication of the European Commission, summarized the general attitude on the Continent toward climate change as “serious but the process is not unstoppable.”

The poll claims that 75 percent of Europeans think “alternative fuels should be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Green EuropeThe survey also suggests that citizens of certain countries — particularly Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and Lithuania — are not well informed about climate change.

However, according to the poll, citizens of Slovenia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Ireland are “both well informed about climate change, and personally take action to fight climate change.”

Although I’m not in a position to analyze the conclusions of this survey, I do know that it’s never a bad thing to promote and publicize the issue of climate change awareness. Not only does this (hopefully) get people’s attention, but it also demonstrates society’s commitment to an issue that is universal and affects us all.

The European Commission is promoting climate change awareness to young Europeans by partnering with MTV Europe on a campaign called “Play to Stop— Europe for Climate.” What better way to get through to young people than through concerts, TV programs and the Web?

The eye-catching campaign also has a presence on popular social media sites Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

The campaign will be making its way to my homeland, as well as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Germany, Sweden, Britain and Romania.

So, alas, unlike the U.S., I think it’s safe to say that Europe is making a concerted effort to educate people about climate change and sustainability. Making the world a better, greener place won’t happen overnight, but it’s comforting to know that although we may not all agree on everything, when it comes to this we’re all in this together.

Read the rest of the survey
Play to Stop campaign

Photo: Play to Stop