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The Gap Year Blog

Green Practices Across The World

4 Nov 2019 16:55 PM

The planet’s health is a concern to everyone across the world, evident in the way that Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg have spoken out in recent months. This climate movement highlights the fact that the number one priority for governments, businesses and individuals regardless of where they live, should be towards making greater efforts to reduce the speed to which climate change is taking hold.

While some people take saving the planet more seriously than others, many people around the world aim to do their bit to embrace green practices and help the environment. With this in mind, the variety of different cultures and climates around the world give people different opportunities to help save the environment. Come with us on a trip around the world to see what other people are doing to look after the planet that we all share…

Solar Power in Africa

Countries which see vast amounts of sunlight are able to harvest the energy from the sun and utilise this as power. While this may seem to be one of the most obvious ideas, it has, up until now, had relatively little engagement. Today, 23 African countries including Senegal and Rwanda are lit by the energy created by solar power. What is most striking, is that many of these countries have never had power before, amazingly leap-frogging this development stage and diving straight into sustainable energy sources.

Septic Tanks in France

Increasingly so, people in France are disposing their waste themselves rather than using public sewage treatment systems. According to septic tank experts - Tanks For Everything, ‘A septic tank allows the waste to break down naturally, separating the solids so that the resulting liquid can then be treated’. This means that fewer nasty chemicals are used and less nasty waste is pumped into the world’s oceans. What is more, the septic tanks use natural bacteria to help to break down most of the waste, which is subsequently returned to the earth thereby reducing the amount of waste that is generated.

Passive Housing in Freiburg (Germany)

Freiburg in Germany is a world leader in passive housing – a housing scheme that focuses on reducing the amount of oil that is used to heat homes. According to The Guardian, a typical house in Germany (and the UK to boot) uses around 6,000 litres of oil per year for heating, whereas a passive home uses just 150 litres. This has been achieved through large-scale insulation programmes, including loft and wall insulation, double glazing, and heat transfer.

Solar Powered Bike Paths in Krommenie (The Netherlands)

The Dutch town Krommenie was the first to develop a new bike path that incorporates solar panels in its structure. The solar panels are set at a slight tilt, are non-adhesive to reduce the amount of dirt attaching to the surface and covered in tempered glass for better grip and exposure to sunlight. Cleverly, the surface takes this energy generated by the sun and transfers it into the national grid. The authorities behind the ‘SolaRoad’ project are hoping that the short experiment will pave the way for more solar panel pathways, and eventually spread to roads, enabling them in the near future to power electric cars, traffic signs and even households.

Changes to Environmental Law in Bolivia

Bolivia is trying to do their bit for the climate by implementing a new law - the Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra (or the Law of the Rights of Mother Earth). The law is based heavily on the indigenous ideas that nature is sacred and overseen by ‘Mother Nature or Mother Earth’. With regards to the law, nature is given rights – such as the right to reproduce, the right to live, the right to balance, and the right to water, clean air, regeneration and biodiversity. The new rules mean that they are required by law to incorporate a number of different planet-enhancing policies such as reducing greenhouse gases, creating more renewable energy, developing food sovereignty, measuring the ecological impact of economic activity and accepting the ecological limits set by nature.

There are numerous other countries that are making great strides towards a better ecological outlook. This is evident in the way that Iceland relies on geothermal activity to heat 95% of homes, and how Tianjin in China has cleared up and restored its central reservoir by planting trees, fitting wind turbines, solar panels and using ground temperatures for heating. Similarly, Denmark is advancing a cycle infrastructure to encourage people to take alternative modes of transport to school and work. This appears to be working, so much so, that 50% of the population choose to cycle or walk to work – including 60% of politicians!


With this in mind, it is reassuring to witness that other countries are doing what they can to limit the effects of global warming!

By Ruby Clarkson, Frontier Guest Writer