Before moving to Albania, I’ve never realized just how many things I was taking for granted. Where I come from or have ever lived at, there was always central heating, 24/7 hot and cold water supply and extremely rare occasions of electricity cuts. So imagine my surprise when I moved to Albania and some of the things that I always considered as the matter of fact, here instead were real “luxuries”.
Recently I had a conversation with a very environmentally conscious friend. While glancing over my three plus years in Albania, to my utter surprise, I was told my Albanian lifestyle to a bigger part fits a model of environmentally conscious person. Does it mean that moving to Albania made me more environmentally friendly?
Being environmentally friendly means having a lifestyle that is better for the environment. It’s all about taking small steps towards treating this planet better and preserving it for the generations to come. Below you will find 5 examples of such environmentally friendly practices that I found in MY Albanian lifestyle, please comment if you have more practices in mind and if you, like me, can now officially be labeled as the “environmentally friendly person”.
1. Taking short showers.
Let me start with my least favorite environmentally friendly practice that I had to deal with after moving to Albania. I have to be honest, I did not adopt it of my own free will, but more out of necessity. Since most Albanian houses have some type of water depository that heats up the water, the amount of available hot water is limited to the size of the container. I love taking long showers, which is basically impossible in Albania, given that the average container holds 40-50 liters of water.
In practice this means two things: 1) if water is left running continuously, you have about 10 minutes to take a hot shower, otherwise you would have to wash off that shampoo with cold water (happened to me on more than one occasion) and 2) you have to turn off the water while lathering up. I can now proudly say that I mastered the 20-minute shower routine.
Interestingly enough, even when I am traveling back home (to “the land of the uninterrupted hot water supply”), I do not let the water run when washing the dishes/ brushing my teeth or during shower. Did you know that leaving the water run while brushing your teeth wastes more than 6 liters of water per minute?
2. Walking more and using car less.
Tirana is quite a small city and I actually enjoy the fact that most places I need to go to are within the walking distance. Not only does it help the environment, but it is also a bit of an exercise. Of course, me walking places might not improve the city’s pollution situation, since many people in Tirana literally use their car to go the neighborhood coffee shop, but I’d like to think that even one person can make a tiny bit of difference and I urge more people to follow my example.
3. Buying locally produced products.
Now this one I love. Albania is blessed with a climate that is favorable for growing all types of fruit and vegetables. Buying local, especially from small producers, minimizes the environmental impact of food production and transportation.
When people buy products that are created and grown in their region, they are reducing how far those products travel before purchase. Reducing the need for transportation reduces the number of vehicles on the road and therefore lowers the amount of pollution that is created. Moreover, fruits and vegetables from local farmers are typically exposed to fewer chemicals than commercial farms. The same goes for meat from the local trusted vendors.
4. Creating less waste by buying products in bulk
This one is also among my favorites. One awesome thing about living in Albania is the fact that I have basically an unlimited access to my favorite – olive oil. We usually buy it in bulk from small producers and then fill the reusable glass bottles with it.
Not using the plastic bottles is definitely a step towards helping the environment. We follow the same routine when buying honey or milk, and even when buying fruit from local vendors we try to use our own reusable bags.
5. Using less electricity
Electricity is very expensive in Albania and I like the fact that people always look for ways to put down their electricity expenses. Unlike in the US or some European countries, tumbles dryers are not common in Albania and people prefer to dry their clothes on the clothing racks.
Most of the houses I visited use some type of energy efficient light bulbs, or are even equipped with solar panels. Don’t leave your appliances on standby though, phantom energy drain can account for up to 10 % of your monthly electric bill. For more tips how to save on your energy bill, check out this article./AgroWeb.org