How Green should we become?

How Green should we become?

Living the "Green" life in Germany took a bit of getting used to. The first few months after moving to Munich were filled with rubbish collectors telling me off for not sorting the trash, disgusted looks from others at the grocery store when I did not have my own cloth bags or basket for the shopping, a good lecture from the neighbour about washing my car in our driveway and a yelling from a total stranger on the road who decided that I should turn the engine of my car off for the half minute my husband took to get down and post a letter! Even heard from a friend that she had a visit from the police the very day she thought there were too many trees in the yard and took one down! The worst was the literal pains of transporting the glass water bottles to and fro shops and home due to the deposit they carry.......So there I was not only having to deal with the expected culture shock but the shock of dealing with an extremely environmentally friendly nation.

12 years and two children later, one can only learn to appreciate all this German greenness. Maybe it´s the maturity in thinking that comes along with age or the pure fact that we worry for our childrens' future. We recently spent three years in Singapore, and it was hilarious to see myself getting irritated there as recycling was not a common practice.

It´s simply admirable to recognize that the trend does not stop with the common man down the street sorting rubbish but how it extends to renowned companies in Munich practising such eco friendly management.

As early as in 1974, Munich Re undertook its own research into the effects of climate change, long before most other companies. It continues to strive towards green policy implementation and in 2009, it achieved complete carbon neutrality at its German headquarters. The company also recycles up to 75% of its waste paper.

Siemens received the highest award from the SAM Group in June this year as the most sustainable company in its industry. In the last fiscal year, the company generated a revenue of EUR30 billion with its Environmental Portfolio - an amount equal to around 40 percent of the company's total sales, and is now one of the world's largest suppliers of ecofriendly technologies.

BMW has introduced its new line of cars, the i3 and i8, which should hit the streets in 2013 and 2014 respectively. These electric cars are constructed with lightweight aluminium structures and bodies made from carbon fibre. Because of this, the cars will be able to run on smaller batteries without sacrificing efficiency. These are just a few examples of the many companies in Munich which advocate going green.

I guess after the horrific disaster in Fukushima, we should all pause to think things through. Many are turning their attention now to renewable energy but would this be enough? I don't consider myself an ardent environmentalist but have decided to give it my best. As the saying goes, "Big things start with small steps." Let us all make a conscious effort in the right direction.

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