Written By: Stephanie Van Heest

Studying abroad for a semester in Florence, Italy, taught me how to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Overseas, that’s how they live every day. Here are some ways I “went green” in Italy and that I have tried to carry over into my life back in the United States.

  1. Treat water as a precious resource. My roommates and I took shorter showers in Italy and shut off the water when we were brushing our teeth to conserve water.
  2. Be conservative with electricity. Every time I left a room I turned off the lights I was not using and unplugged all appliances.
  3. Carry a reusable water bottle. Over 75% of plastic water bottles in the United States end up in landfills, and they won’t degrade for thousands of years. By using a reusable water bottle, I saved money by not having to buy bottled water and limited my impact on the environment.
  4. Air-dry clothes. Since I didn’t have a dryer in my apartment I had no choice but to air dry my clothes.   To live without a clothes dryer in the United States feels like a sacrifice, but in Italy it is the norm and just feels like a way of life.
  5. Buy local. Buying local produce reduces packaging waste and carbon emissions associated with transportation. By buying local I was able to support local farmers and small businesses, purchase the freshest produce, and sample the local cuisine.
  6. Use reusable bags when going to the grocery store. Since plastic bags were an extra charge, I learned quickly to bring reusable bags with me to the store.
  7. Walk everywhere. This is a great way to take in the local culture, get exercise and reduce my carbon footprint.
  8. Take public transportation if walking is not an option. I hopped on a bus or rode the subway instead of taking a taxi in order to save money and reduce my carbon footprint.

Italy was built in a way that makes it pretty easy to live green. In fact, many European cities are very old and were designed with horses and carriages in mind, not cars. Even though it is more challenging to do some of the same things here in the States, I am making a conscious effort to try.



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