15 February 2006

dirty secrets

Outside of Iceland, many people hold this country up to be a paragon of environmental engineering, saying that finally there is a place that gets it. It's not entirely true, folks, and here's why:

Icelanders do NOT know how to turn off water or lights. Every time I got to the pool, I have to turn off at least one shower that has been left on when the user was done. They're off swimming or putting on mascara, leaving the shower dumping a Gullfoss-sized stream of water on the floor. I always turn them off, only to find that next time it's happening all over again. Water fountains here are not designed with the on/off switch I knew so well from my childhood elementary school building. Here they just pour and pour. Nevermind that they are actually being used only maybe 5 percent of the time.

The same goes for lights. Every time I go past the two individual bathrooms in my office, someone's left the light on. I haven't figured out who the culprit is, but it is starting to get silly. Unlock the door, switch off the light- it can even be done at the same time with different hands. You're done and on your way!

These are some basic things that almost every American child learns quickly and at a young age. Don't leave the shower on and don't leave the lights on. I know that it can seem like a pointless thing in this country that is spilling over with water like this. It gushes from the glaciers in roaring, surging masses, it oozes from rocks, it pours from the skies. How could we possibly EVER run out, right? That's what we thought about all the massive forests in the United States when the first European settlers arrived. Where are all those forests now? That water isn't doing much good going down the drain anyway, so why not switch it off and get in the habit now?

Also, we have this great recycling center just down the street from our house. We can recycle cardboard, wood, bottles, newspapers, but not glass. I find this extremely strange, and it maddens me every time I have to throw out a glass bottle. Can't we do something about this?

There does seem to be the beginning of awareness, as the stórtónleikar we went to in January was an environmental benefit, but it seemed to be targeted at "the other guys", the builders of the dams in the East. It's not all about the outsiders though- the residents of Iceland can do a lot on their own too. Iceland HAS done some amazing things with the resources available here, and showing off the technology is one of my favorite things to do when visitors come. I am proud to be living in a place that figured out such a cool way to handle these gloomy winters. Let's take that thoughtfulness all the way though, and turn off some taps and switches!

Ship Sighting: J and I made it home yesterday afternoon in time to see Arnarfell coming in. It's listed on the Samskip website as being due in the Westman Islands in two days. I'd love to see this big cargo ship docked there at those tiny islands.


Anonymous said...

I wonder how these people got your blog link, and if you had any connection to them before they started reading.
-paul l

Anonymous said...

my comment above was for your "Unexpected benefits" post.

SB said...

waste is such sad thing. I liked it in Holland when I was there because people recycle and don't waste as much as in Iceland. The Scandinavian countries (DK, N, SF) also are probably more up to date NOT to waste so much. The Norwegians install pipes in the floors in the bathroom for any overflow of hot water, so their bathroom floors are never cold.

Now one thing I've noticed in the USA, talking about bathrooms.
Some people here do NOT wash their hands after using the bathroom. My advice use the napkin you dried off your hands with to open the door.
I remember back in the seventies on TV b&w commercials where they were teaching the Icelander not to throw paper on the streets as it takes so and so many years to rot, and :D they also showed a person washing their hands after using the bathroom and the commercial spoke about germs and unsanitary habits.

I wish they'd do the same here, educate...wash your hands after you've been in your arse! :D

Maybe a light hearted talk during lunch about the waste of energy, such as leaving the lights on would get the message through