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07.03.2008 :: partner

Green on the outside, green on the inside

by Olga Apostolova :: Comments (0) :: (Read 4652 times)

A number of public awareness campaigns in London have made the environment issue visible and have had a snowball effect.
This month of March finds me in London. It’s not my first time here, far from it. But it’s the first time I am noticing how green the city is. Literally and metaphorically speaking. The contrast with Sofia is far too great to be ignored.

I never understood why green spaces in Sofia have to be so run down. It doesn’t cost much to plant a tree, a bush, a flower, and it doesn’t cost much to maintain that. It can’t be a money thing for the municipality.

Parks and gardens score cheap points for everyone. My local park in London has over the past five or six years transformed itself completely. I look at it now in amazement. It’s a jungle of greenery. It’s full of picnicking crowds on weekends and kids and school kids during the week. The garden centre next to it is thriving. The ducks in the pond look very much alive. And I actually enjoy jogging there which wasn’t the case some time ago. I even tell people that I jog there. And we are not talking about emblematic London parks such as Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens. It’s just my local park. As a friend of mine quite rightly pointed out, all it takes is a bit of watering and a few hundred years. I get the point. But my point is that you still have to start somewhere. In Sofia I have yet to discover a park that is suitable for jogging, let alone enjoyable.

Environmental awareness is another case in point. I am not good at telling apart cars and the like, but I can’t fail to see that Smart cars and Priuses have flooded the roads of London (perhaps even more than Priuses, but this is the only hybrid I actually recognize).

The congestion charge that makes you pay a hefty fee for driving into central London has done miracles for this once excessively busy city. Mayor Ken Livingstone who on May 1st is hoping to get a third term in office, not only came up with this successful scheme, but managed to back it up with a public awareness campaign as well as solid public transport. If London can do this, what is stopping Sofia? Our pollution problem is as big and the remedy seems tried and tested.

Various other schemes are also in place that put London ahead as an environmentally conscious city. For example the so called Merton Rule now requires new buildings to have part of their energy supplied from renewable sources. And another example. Mayor Ken Livingstone is also heading a campaign to turn London into a Fair Trade city. This means that fair trade products are now visible almost everywhere and Londoners are aware of what Fair Trade is about.

The bottom line is that a number of public awareness campaigns have made the environment issue visible and have had a snowball effect. This is what we essentially lack in Bulgaria. There are various initiatives and communities united around issues such as green living, cycling, even Fair Trade, but general awareness is hugely lacking because no effective campaigning has taken place. Not even when it comes to recycling and I definitely don’t want to start comparing London and Sofia in this respect.

CC Licence: Attribution - NonCommercial - No Derivative Works

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