If you’re interested in green construction, design, and city planning, there are places around the world that you can visit and see. But if you want to maximize your time and travel resources, a trip to Spain might be your best bet. Not only is there a lot to see, but there’s also plenty to do.
Spain: A Green-Friendly Destination
While a lot of “green” progress has been made stateside over the past few years, you really have to look past our borders to truly understand what’s happening on a global scale. Europe is the model for sustainable living, and Spain seems to be leading the way. More specifically, Madrid and Barcelona are showing city planners and government officials how it’s done. Both cities are squarely focused on improving quality of life for their citizens by refocusing how they approach sustainability and the environment.
For these cities, one of the biggest priorities over the past few years has been addressing plummeting air quality and dealing with vehicular congestion that had been getting progressively worse over the years. But instead of introducing car bans, which most European cities have tried, they’re doing something entirely different – and it’s working.
“Barcelona has a more radical strategy: to reorganize the city’s network of gridded roads into car-free superblocks, relegating traffic to large boundary roads, and returning the use of smaller streets to pedestrians and leisure services,” travel blogger Natasha Stokes writes. “In Madrid, the process has begun to pedestrianize its main avenue, Gran Via, a six-lane highway that serves a major shopping district. It’s part of a wider environment-focused plan to ban all diesel cars from Madrid entirely by 2025.”
The rise of Barcelona and Madrid as “green” cities perfectly coincides with their rise as “smart” cities. Barcelona has long been viewed as one of the world’s smartest cities – with a sophisticated network of sensors that monitor and respond to key needs – but Madrid is quickly catching up.
“Madrid is tackling traffic congestion, pollution and public services, but takes a unique bottom-up approach to using digital data,” Urban Hub explains. “By focusing less on how or how much data is collected, and more on the question of why we gather data, Madrid aims to keep solutions citizen-centric, and avoid the pitfalls of a technology disassociated from the people.”
It’s also interesting to look at the rise of technological innovation in leading cities across Spain. Both Madrid and Barcelona are huge entrepreneurial hubs for tech startups and ventures, with many of these companies and products focusing on green application.
Plan a Trip to Spain
If you’re interested in seeing what green city planning and construction looks like on a large, urban scale, you should try planning a trip to Spain. Be forewarned, though. This isn’t one of those European vacations where you spend one night in a city before moving on to the next. You’ll need a solid four days to truly experience Madrid. The same could be said of Barcelona.
Another piece of advice: Stay in an authentic area of the city. Whether it’s Madrid, Barcelona, or some other Spanish city, the touristy areas are often times a façade. By staying in more authentic neighborhoods, you’ll get a feel for what the city is actually like. This will help you understand how the city is planned, which green initiatives are working, and where there’s room for improvement.
By no means is Spain a perfect country, but it is an excellent model for other cities around the world that want to become greener. From construction and design to traffic and technology, cities like Madrid and Barcelona are leading the way.
4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again
As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.
Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.
Jars and Containers
Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.
An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.
Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!
If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!
Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!
These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money
The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.
Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.
Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.
Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale
The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.
Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.
Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI
It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.
Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.
Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.
Implementing green changes without a plan
Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.
Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:
- How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
- How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
- How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
- How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?
The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.
Not considering the benefits of green printing
Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.
Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.
According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:
- They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
- They consume less energy than traditional printers.
- They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.
You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.
Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers
Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.
The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.
You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.
Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.