Friday, February 19, 2010

Life in Austria. Part 3b. Living Green

A little more today on this well-oiled green machine we call Austria.

For those that love a good statistic (cause I do): Austria ranked #8 in the 2010 Environmental Performance Index, a method of quantifying and numerically benchmarking the environmental performance of a country's policies done by Yale and Columbia. The U.S. was #61.

So, next up is the magnificent public transportation system. Here in Graz, I'm talking about the Straßenbahn, otherwise known as the tram. Since Graz is a pretty small city, the tram system is a great way to get around. Where the tram lines don't go, buses do. And walking ain't so bad either.
Tram make man happy.

Trams here are run by electricity...making them even more grün.
Tram electric lines on the street.

Speaking of electricity, they save some by not keeping lights on in common areas of buildings. Most buildings come equipped with self-timed lights activated by buttons. The lights generally stay on for about 4 minutes.
Magic button

Toilets even have two flush buttons...the small one for the tink and the larger one for the poopen.

Another area where electricity is saved is clothes drying. I would venture to say most Austrians don't use a dryer. We don't. When we first got our washing machine, we decided to go without a dryer and see how it was. Well, here we are a year later and I'm fine without it. It's better for your clothes too and you'd be surprised how fast they dry...probably because the air in our apartment is ridiculously dry from the heaters...hence our cracky, peely skin. And people hang their clothes outside their windows all over the's like a Downy commercial come to life.
Please don't try to see our undies, k?

Seriously, sometimes you see this in someone's backyard.

Austria also does their part in the cutting-down-on-plastic-bag-use by making you pay for plastic (or paper) bags. This encourages you to buy one of the sturdier, long-term bags and bring it with when you go to the store. I finally found one with longer handles for ease of carrying home on the shouldy. Yes, I only get what fits in this bag and carry it home about half a mile. This makes the ergonomic quality of the bag importy.
My beloved baggie.

As for food, so much of what you buy in the stores is grown locally. When you get chicken, it tells you whose farm it's from.
Good beef is harder to come by and way pricier than in the States and we don't have it very often. I do love it so, though.

And, it's pretty common for the regular folk to have their own little vegetable garden..even some chickety chickens. One chased me and Lindsey down a path this past summer and we ran and screamed.

And, of course, there is the local farmers' market open every morning for the freshest produce around (it's a bit more expensy though). A high importance is placed on 'bio' foods and you can find them everywhere. In fact, Austria recently placed a ban on genetically modified crops.

And, I'm pretty sure a lot of power here is from hydroelectric plants and I know solar panels are pretty popular cause I've seen them on many homes in the country. {This would not cut it as a factual research paper, I'm well aware.}

And, you are allowed to drive you own car, yes, but beware of parking. Oh, and you must have a driveway surrounded by luscious greenery so that even your car looks quaint and like it belongs in Austria. A goat grazing on the top of the fence would really make it A+.

And that's all for environmental day here folks. Schönes Wochenende!


Unknown said...

Carolyn, it's me...
lovely to come back to your blog after a little while and to see your enthusiastic ways about your life in Graz. I remember the clothes racks...actually I have one here too and use it all summer long on my deck, where nobody can complain...
Wie geht es Dir? Euch?

Wish you a fabulous weekend from a cold New York!


Anonymous said...

I see London, I see France... hahaha! Great post. I am jealous of your ergo Billa bag. And I can't believe you know Albert too! What a small world. ;)

Anonymous said...

Miss Cheep! This makes me miss my luva and the Avalon. I subscribed to the blog finally and now feel like its a wondey little dose of our good ole days. xoxoxoxo

Rachel in Graz said...

I have to use a dryer it's in my contract I can't dry clothes in my flat how silly is that? Especially when my building has balconies off the hallways where we could so easily stick a clothes horse if they weren't locked!

Kimberly said...

Love these posts! I just figured out the one line and two line potties a few months ago!!! We do use a dryer still. Me loves it mucho.

Alison said...

Greetings from a fellow Houstonian who's been living in western Austria (Vorarlberg) for the last 10 years and who hasn't used a dryer in all that time. Took some getting used to and always means planning ahead, but now I see dryers as a real luxury which is only enjoyed when I go back to Texas once a year.

Carolyn said...

Hey Alison...where is Voralberg do you live? Glad to see you're living non-dryer life as well! I miss hot towels and the softness the dryer brings, but...we ain't gonna buy one.

Alison said...

Oh yeah, I know what you mean about soft towels...and sheets...and jeans...etc

I live in the town of Frastanz, near Feldkirch. My boyfriend and I have a language school in the town of Dornbirn. Sadly, I've never been to Graz. Will have to put that on my evergrowing list of places to go.

Post a Comment

Thanks for leaving me a comment! You know I love it so.
- Carolyn