I’ve been living in Poland for about 6½ years. I’ve been around the culture and habits here so long that they are practically second nature, and thus invisible, to me. But there are clearly some big differences compared to what is “normal” in the US, my home country. Some things are of course “not as good,” while others are much better. For you good TreeHugger readers, I thought I’d run through a few of the good things.
First of all, let’s be honest: Poland is not the greenest country in the world. About 90% of its electricity comes from coal power plants, including some really old and dirty ones. The coal industry has so deeply influenced energy awareness in Poland that even very intelligent people I know have warped ideas about coal power, wind power, solar power, and global warming. Poland has been the key country blocking stronger renewable energy and climate targets in Europe.
That said, for a variety of reasons, many Polish people have a number of very green and energy-efficient habits. Below are three that I wish were much more common in the US.
1) Walking to the shop: A good number of Polish people simply go for a walk to go shopping, particularly grocery shopping. I think there are two big factors influencing this. The most important one is that many neighborhoods are densely populated, mixed-use neighborhoods with plenty of fruit and veggie shops, bakeries, small grocery stores, and even fairly large grocery stores. Despite coming from a city planning background and knowing well that Europe was the place to be for such mixed-used neighborhoods and corner shops, I’ve on many occasions been very surprised at how many shops, bakeries, etc., you can find near each other.