30 September 2007

Green Italy

One thing that surprised me as we were moving around Italy is how environmentally conscious it seems to be. At our first hotel in Florence, the lights in the lobby and hallway were all motion-activated, turning off after about a minute of non-activity. In the next hotel, we could only turn on the lights and air conditioning when we were in the room, as the special card to activate it all was on the keychain. This is especially impressive, because while in hotels it is so easy to leave the air-co cranked up and the lights on even when outside of the room.

Apparently, the Italian government only allows hotels (or perhaps it's the whole population?) to use air conditioning during particular months. I wish our government would try something like this! It would make people at least think twice about their energy consumption.

The other piece of the puzzle was the small car. I didn't really see any trucks/SUVs while there. Mostly, I saw those small Ford Fiesta-type cars, and the Smart Cars (which are hilarious). I don't know how safe I would feel on the US streets in such small cars, mainly because there are so many huge cars with people driving like idiots that I would be afraid of being crushed. But, when that's all everyone is driving, it seems like a good deal to me.

Of course, there are the many public transportation options, and the cities are easily walkable...and there is also a culture which encourages the evening stroll rather than hopping into a car.

Hopefully, this trend will catch on in other countries, especially the USA.

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