True Green Cities / Earth Day Wishes & Recollections – Great Green Happenings In Europe

Tulip stands in the Wednesday market in the Markt Square, Bruges, Belgium.

As I write this blog, a Nor’Easter (or rather a Sou’easter apparently) is bearing down on upstate New York and I wonder whether I will be able to drive from North Carolina to Buffalo on Monday for a week of work in Buffalo.  It’s 70 and sunny, with a light breeze in Winston-Salem, the cats are playing in the yard and there are more birds than I can count.  The Earth Day Network website declares , “Our planet, our home is being neglected. Climate change continues unabated. It seems there's a new ecological disaster happening almost daily. This Earth Day it's time to mobilize the planet from the ground up to send a message that the Earth won't wait!” I read about a controversy with a new show on the Discovery Channel that is about the melting ice in Antarctica and how it is affecting the penguins but doesn’t say once that climate change is causing it.  The denial that so many people choose to live in is exhausting.   So, rather than rant about climate change deniers I have decided to instead talk about some of the wonderful sustainable activities I witnessed on my recent trip to Europe. Recycling in Bruges

A stainless steel glass recycling bin in Bruges, Belgium.

While we were roaming around the windmills my sister wandered down a very picturesque street and we came across these very elegant glass recycling bins, if you can call them bins.  What they lack in size they offer in sleekness.  I couldn’t find  out much about the bins online, but I keep thinking about them, their simplicity and elegance and wish our blue and green plastic ones which crack all the time and the even less attractive metal bins at recycling stops had even 10% of the design of these. Local Markets with Local Products Everywhere One of the massive squares in Bruges is the Markt, called this because it houses the largest market in town every Wednesday – local food, produce and flowers.  We planned our Wednesday around getting to the Markt to buy fresh local produce for lunch and tulips for our wonderful hotel manager.  We were so excited you’d think we’d never been to a market.  But there is something incredibly profound about going to a market that has been there historically for 500 hundred years.  In Amsterdam, we went to tulip markets of course.  In Paris we went to a leather market. Geothermal Energy in Amsterdam

The new Doubletree Hotel in Amsterdam is the first hotel/conference center built as part of the master planning regeneration project of Amsterdam's Eastern Dock Island.

In Amsterdam we stayed at the new Doubletree Hotel (formerly a Mint Hotel),  the first hotel/conference center built as part of the master planning regeneration project of Amsterdam's Eastern Dock Island which is enhancing the waterfront adjacent to the Centraal Station.  In five years it will be the place to be.  We were urban pioneers without really knowing it.  Having never been to Amsterdam I had trouble understanding where to stay and the Doubletree lured me with its hip and green look and Hilton points.   It turned out to work very well since we could access every part of the city with the trams that started at the Station.    And while the hotel still needs some tweaking, the green roofs, iMac computer/TV in every room and the Russian Constructivist look made up for it for me.  The windows all have low E coatings to minimize heat loss and glare. Operable windows and motorized shutters also help control heating, lighting and ventilation into the rooms.  The hotel has geothermal ground source pumps which power a combined heat and power system. Surprisingly while I was researching the hotel online to write this blog, I discovered that the NY Times had reviewed it the week before we left.  Somehow I missed the article. Happy Earth Day And so for this 32nd Earth Day, I wish you all a kind weather day, tulips on the dinner table and an excellent meal from fresh local foods. And if you’d like to “subscribe” or follow this blog, True Green Cities, please sign up through the “Subscribe” button at the bottom left of this page. You’ll receive a daily recap when new blogs are posted.        
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