My daughter, Sarah, has lived in London for the last three years. She and her husband, David, both architects, wanted to travel and live an adventurous life before they settled down.
For the last three years she’ s been asking me when I’m going to come visit. It seemed like there was always one reason or another as to why it wasn’ t going to work out. This week I’m writing to you from the United Kingdom.
On the flight over “the pond” (as the British lovingly refer to the Atlantic) my thoughts were on our carbon footprint while travelling on the jet. I tried to give myself solace with these few thoughts. First, the plane was full, not one empty seat. Second, neither my husband nor myself have traveled to a different country so, we were due to expand our cultural horizons. Last, I really wanted to see my daughter!
I wondered how strong the Green movement might be in the UK and immediately noticed some differences from the United States. The most obvious was mass transportation. The bus, train, and tube (underground subway) system is incredible. We took a train from the airport, to a tube route, directly to my daughter’s flat. We got off the tube and walked less than a block and were at her door. Granted it was somewhat tricky to figure it all out, even with her careful instructions, but hey, we’re neophytes to the mass transit world.
A person can take the tube anywhere they wish to travel throughout London. Sarah and David don’t even own a car! They travel everywhere on the mass-transit systems, and so do the large majority of Londoners. The tube was full during rush hour with executives and blue-collar workers alike. We also shared the ride with teenagers, families with small children and seniors. Every walk of life and every age group uses this system. People also walk and ride their bikes everywhere!
Sarah and David recycle all of their household items, and some boroughs of London offer curbside recycling. No separating necessary, the city picks up all recyclables the same day as trash day. Believe me, with London being the third most expensive city in which to live, in the whole world, Sarah and David live very simply.
I didn’t see recycle bins everywhere, but the amount of energy saved and overall low carbon footprint Londoners must have due to their mode of transportation must be incredible. It made me think of what could be for the Kansas City area, but it will take a major paradigm shift for Americans to think that Green.