As I boarded the plane, I felt the familiar anxiety surge through my body. It’s a feeling that consistently floods over me every time I fly. However, today was different. I wasn’t just flying to any old place. I was leaving my country for the first time. To put it simply, this was a big deal. As the plane took off, I felt myself leaving U.S. territory, heading straight for Ireland.
Upon landing in Dublin, I instantly realized that I was completely out of my element. I’ve traveled extensively in the United States and have seen everything from Yosemite’s waterfalls to the hustle and bustle of New York City. However, when upon this new country, I felt like a blind man who had regained his sight. And what my senses choose to see, smell, and hear, was different from what I was accustomed to.
For all seventeen years of my life, I’ve lived in Los Angeles, growing up around traffic, smog, and movie stars. So as you can imagine, Dublin was a bit of a shock for me. Despite the fact that it’s the largest city in southern Ireland, it’s still looks like something out of a postcard, lush and green. It was spectacular to say the least. But what hit me the most about the city was not it’s aesthetic appeal but it’s culture. More specifically, not how the Irish interacted with each other, but how they interacted with their environment. Like most people living in the United States and the world know, we are currently going through an environmental crisis. Global Warming is hitting our planet hard. If we don’t act quickly, we will ultimately cease to exist. What was most impressive to me about the Irish was how they treat their environment. To say the least, Americans can learn quite a bit from them.
For the week I spent in Ireland, every single public bathroom was lacking paper towels to dry your hands with. Instead, they had high-powered hand dryers. Though this system was a bit odd at first, it didn’t take me long to adjust to it. In addition, trashcans had separate chutes for paper, plastic, and glass. There was no chute for ordinary trash. Every waste was compartmentalized and recycled. Though this system seemed unusual at first, I quickly found that it became second nature for me. Before I knew it I was throwing my empty water bottle into the appropriate chute without even thinking twice.
In my opinion, these are all keys to addressing global warming. Our society is more than capable of adapting. Every country and every culture has adjusted to changing conditions at some point in history. So why not now? Why can’t we change in regard to the new environmental issues that confront us? Ireland chose to. What is stopping us, or the rest of the world?