A Green City

A Green City

Una Ciudad Verde: A Commentary on Sustainability

by: Julie Jackson

 
This Learning Cluster to Buenos Aires, Argentina has allowed me to see how unsustainable our society currently is and has led to a new appreciation for the people trying to make a difference. Unfortunately, every moment of the day more and more waste is being created and we’re destroying our environment with the choices we make. However, there are many people trying to create new ways of living more sustainably, and environmentally-friendly efforts are being launched around the world. We don’t necessarily have to live in a house of adobe to be sustainable, (although it would help greatly), we can simply make informed decisions and adjust different aspects of our lives. The following discusses some of the steps that the city of Buenos Aires is taking to become a “green city”.
 
 
Buenos Aires is a large city striving to be environmentally conscious. The city is home to many wonderful parks and green spaces which are popular among residents and have helped contribute to a more healthy and active lifestyle. I was surprised to observe the overall level of activity in and around these parks, and discovered it is not uncommon for large mobs of people to all exercise at the same time, as seen in the video above. People take advantage of these beautiful places by walking, jogging,  running, biking, rollerblading, skateboarding, or working out in these spaces. There are locations throughout the city that provide work out equipment that are built like playgrounds and open to the public who would  like to exercise outdoors, an idea that I would love to see implemented here at home. These parks and green
spaces are not only beautiful, but help combat the pollution by producing oxygen and
filtering the air. Being active is a popular trend here which promotes good health and an environmentally conscious mindset among Buenos Aires residents.

Walking is a main method of transportation in the
city, but for longer distances people can be seen using bikes, public
transportation, motorcycles, and cars. Bike racks are on almost every street
and clearly designated bike lanes are in frequent use. The bike lanes have
dividers from the rest of the street and are clearly marked which makes it
easier and safer to get around the city by bike. Motorcycles are also a very
popular mode of transportation and it seems that drivers are more aware and
respectful of people on motorcycles than what I have observed here in Southern
California. Other modes of transportation included buses, trains, and subways,
which still contribute to pollution, but help reduce the number of cars in the
city. Cars still populate the streets, but with other options for
transportation the need for them is much less. Buenos Aires has now removed
taxes on hybrid models and cars that use alternative fuels or energy sources,
which will promote alternative, “greener” models. Another interesting development
in progress is that the traffic signals are being replaced with LED technology
which is expected to decrease energy consumption between 45 and 50%.
 
Being a large city, waste and pollution is a huge problem. Through my observations it seems that everyone and their grandmother is a pet owner and can be found walking their dogs all throughout the day; however, these animals leave waste on the streets. Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their animals, however this seems to be an issue throughout the city and an environmental friendly way to clean up after your dog and dispose waste has not been introduced. Every morning, shop owners step outside and hose down the sidewalk in front of their business so that the dirt, trash, and animal waste goes into the gutter. It cleans the street, but causes problems elsewhere and consumes a large amount of water. While this issue could use improvement, the city has tried to reduce the amount of waste by designing a new method of disposal. Large trash and recycle
bins can be found on every street in Palermo, the first neighborhood to use this method of  disposal. The city stresses the importance of 
separating waste and recycling,and many businesses have adopted these methods and are distinguished by “Ciudad Verde” logos that are posted for people to see. The mantra of reduce, reuse, recycle is highly publicized and it seems that residents are doing relatively well at implementing these ideas. Grocery stores charge
for plastic bags, so most locals have their own bags that they bring to the
supermarket to use (they also sell reusable bags at the store).This is a good
way to reduce the consumption and waste of plastic bags, and is hopefully a
trend that will catch on quickly in other parts of the world. 
 
Artists and vendors are helping to promote the idea of reusing waste by creating products made of recycled materials. These goods can be found at ferreterias and include a variety of interesting and stylish products. Some examples include using old jeans to make shoes,
records to make bags, cans and bottles to make jewelry or decorations and the
list continues as people put their creativity to use. It’s great to see old products being
reused and given a new purpose, considering the amount of waste that is
produced every day. While these items are only produced on a small scale, every bit
makes a difference and helps promote a change in thinking. A change that keeps
sustainability in mind.
If you’re interested in learning more about the green city movement of
Buenos Aires, you can check out the city’s official site at:
http://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/ciudadverde