laundry by an old wall

Greetings from Barcelona, Spain! We are taking Re-Think Green on the road this winter, and I’m ready to share my first round of photos. I’m glad to see that many of the European habits and sustainable customs I have written about are actually still true. A few of these include:

Drinking Coffee at a Bar in Spain

zero waste coffee in europeThe ideal amount of coffee for me is about 2 oz. — one shot of good espresso plus a dash of milk. Apparently this is called a cortado in Spain. Perfecto!

This makes it very frustrating to be American, where you’re lucky if a place offers a small size (8 oz.) instead of just a standard 12 oz. size. It’s also a struggle to get the coffee in a cup that is not disposable in the US anymore.

So I’m glad to report that one of my first blog posts of the year, “Reusable Cups: Sit Still and Drink That Coffee!” was in fact about a European custom that still holds true today. They drink coffee at a coffee bar, out of a real cup, doing it the zero waste way. I’ve heard a lot of people order cortados as well as capuchinos/cappuccinos, which are about 6 oz. (not the size of a cereal bowl, Americans, got it?), but as you can see from the other patrons’ drinks in the pic above, larger lattes are also a thing here.

Drying Laundry on a Line

It’s been super cool to stay in a couple of different apartments and see how people do laundry. They use small washers in their kitchens and then hang the clothes on lines that are strung from window to window. I would totally be dropping clothes 5 stories down! Or I’d learn to be careful, I guess. Here’s the story I told in “Laundry on a Line: Living Without a Dryer.” I should have some more pics of both indoor and outdoor solutions as I continue my travels this winter.laundry 5 floors up

Hanging clothes outdoors in the sun is also a thing. Even in the touristy and picturesque seaside pedestrian streets of San Sebastián (Donostía) in the Basque Country, Spain. We were out super early in the morning thanks to jetlag, and so were the clothes! “Do laundry while the sun shines” was the phrase that came to my mind. I was told it is usually rainy there, so it seemed like a lot of people were taking advantage of the weather to get some laundry done.
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Recycling Bins on the Spanish Street

As I mentioned in “Composting in Seattle is Easy, and Required,” the first time I saw public bins that encouraged sorting into multiple categories including compost was in Germany in the 1990s. Why we still seem incapable of creating and installing such bins almost anywhere in the US is beyond me. Since I’m still in Spain, here’s the stylish and bilingual spread of recycling bins from the Basques, who after all are probably an indigenous people who have inhabited their country for tens of thousands of years. Thus it wouldn’t surprise me if they cared for the Earth better than those from more modern cultures.recycling bins in Basque Country

The waste cans up in the Tibidabo amusement park that overlooks Barcelona were also very cool. But for now, this is all I have to share from Europe. I should do a whole separate post on how heavenly it is to be a pedestrian in Spain. But that shall wait for another day.¡Hasta luego, amigos!

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