Megan and I spent the last 2 weeks traveling across both islands of New Zealand. I’m going to talk about different aspects of the trip over the next few blog posts, starting with one of my favorite things about the country: It is environmentally clean in a way that I haven’t seen in any other country.
Now, I love living in an environmentally friendly way for the greater good. If that’s important to you too, New Zealand is awesome. Whenever a cafe gave us straws, instead of plastic, they were paper straws (and once even metal). Every coffee shop we visited had a discount if you provided your own mug, and most allowed you to buy a reusable mug there and get a free coffee inside. Every power outlet had a switch on the outlet (I think this helps conserve electricity), and every toilet had a “small flush” and a “big flush” option.
That’s all great, right? Those are all little things that add up to make the world a better place. I was happy to see and use every one of them.
But humans–including myself–like things that impact us immediately. Sure, the oceans may rise 20 feet over the next 20 years, forever changing the ecosystem and the economy…but what about today?
Here’s the thing: The New Zealand I saw–and I saw quite a bit of it–is nearly litter free. Not just big, obvious litter. Megan and I could literally count on 1 hand the total amount of litter (big and small) we saw over a 2-week period. I think I saw 1 cigar butt, 3 aluminum cans, and one napkin. That’s it.
No litter means more beauty everywhere. No litter means better Instagram photos.
There are signs asking people to “leave no trace,” but it’s amazing that an entire country of people actually buy into the idea! It’s incredible. Especially with the number of tourists there.
It made me happy to see so many people taking responsibility for the earth, and it gave me hope that others will follow, even if it’s for selfish reasons. I certainly want there to be an ozone layer for my nieces and nephews when I’m long gone, but it would also be great to walk down the street tomorrow and not see just as many cigarette butts as blades of grass. There’s hope.
What types of things does your country do to keep it clean and beautiful?