Julia Gabbert

Part of what I study at Webster is environmental sustainability, so back home I try to do all the little things to lessen my negative impact on the planet. So, naturally, I can’t help but notice some of the things that Scotland does that I’ve never seen in the United States. It’s no question that the U.S. isn’t the most sustainable place on earth (especially compared to rolling green hills Scotland), but these are just a few of the everyday things that could make American day-to-day life more environmentally friendly.

First of all, the power outlets here can be turned off when not in use. At home, I compulsively unplug my cell phone charger when I’m not using it, because I worry that having it plugged into nothing wastes energy. Here, instead of unplugging things, I can just turn off the entire outlet. Little bits at a time, I bet that can save a lot of energy.

Likewise, there is a pull-string in the bathroom that has to be switched on before you take a shower. If the string is not pulled, the water heater won’t turn on and your shower water will be cold. I always thought it was such a waste that my shower at home heats up the entire tank of water during my shower, only to go cold when the water is shut off and not used. And the tank just keeps heating up periodically so that hot water is always available.

When we were on the Isle of Arran, I noticed that there were clotheslines in every backyard, and everyone actually used them to hang-dry their laundry. I learn that dryers really aren’t that common in Scotland, because most people use clotheslines to dry their clothes. (Even though it rained the one time I tried to hang-dry my laundry, I still think this is an excellent energy saver. It gets unbearably hot in St. Louis in the summer, though the air may not be as clean—is it plausible for more people to use clotheslines in the States?)

On the Isle of Arran, and in the other non-big-cities in Scotland, small farms are a dime a dozen. There are sheep and cattle everywhere, not to mention super cute farmers accompanied by their even cuter and more picturesque border collies. This means, I hope, that there are more independent, sustainably operated farms. Regardless, more small farms means less industrially produced food, and that is my main concern. Down with industrial agriculture!

I mentioned the Arran distillery in my last blog post for their respect for wildlife, and now I will give kudos once again. On the tour of the distillery, the tour guide stressed that it is a priority not to waste materials during the production of whisky. The leftover grain goes to cattle feed or fertilizer, the water is re-used, etc. The fact that the distillery went out of their way to advertise this “waste nothing” mentality showed me that they respect sustainable efforts and it is important to them as a business.

Scotland isn’t completely the perfect earth-child place, though. Styrofoam and plastic bags are still used freely, and recycling isn’t always available. But it’s certainly a step up. Our rental car uses diesel, and we’ve gone over 500 miles on one tank! I’m breathin’ easy, y’all!

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