By: Jules Zimmerman
In January, I had the pleasure of studying abroad in Manchester, England. We got to travel around the great country itself and even had the opportunity to travel to Wales as well. In Manchester, Miami students got to work very closely with an organization called Justlife. We helped the homeless by volunteering our time and resources, and we even created a survey for the researchers at Justlife to use. It was a very eye opening experience that I will never forget.
Jules (bottom right) with Miami peers in Manchester.
Although I wasn’t expecting a large amount of cultural differences between the United States and United Kingdom, I found that their environmental efforts were extremely different than our own. I would even argue that their environmental-friendly culture is a lot more advanced in Europe than in the United States. This, of course, is based off of my personal experience and my personal experience alone.
Shortly after arriving in Manchester, I noticed that the presence of paper hand towels for drying were very sparse. I barely saw them throughout a variety of restrooms across Manchester, as well as in Wales. Instead of paper towels, there were a lot of paperless dryers such as air hand dryers or cloth hand dryers. Even when we went to The Trafford Centre Mall, there were no paper towels in the women’s restroom at all. Instead of paper towels, the machine cycles through a piece of cloth for you to dry off your wet hands. I’m not sure how sanitary that really is, but it’s the green thought that counts.
Another environmentally friendly trend that I noticed in England was that plastic cutlery and straws were barely used in a variety of restaurants, coffee shops and pubs. Paper straws replaced plastic ones, and if I can remember correctly, I only recall going to one establishment in which they gave me a plastic straw. Plastic is extremely convenient, but that doesn’t mean we should use it all the time! Metal or wood utensils were given to us instead, and they are a great way to reduce single-use plastic waste.
Franco Manca, an amazing pizza restaurant that refuses to use plastic.
Manchester also has an amazing public transportation system to navigate through the city. It is a great way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the amount of people driving individual cars everyday. Public transportation not only reduces pollution, but it also reduces traffic. Their bus system was amazing, and we got to where we needed to be very easily.
While the United States is starting to head towards some of these improvements like banning plastic straws or implementing more paperless hand dryers, we still have quite a bit to do. It was interesting to see the difference in environmental efforts between the two. I believe the United States is progressing, but not at the rate of some of the other countries such as England. While there is still a lot of work to do on both sides, we should feel inspired by these green acts and implement them into our society here in the United States.
Salford Quays, Manchester
Overall, I had an amazing experience on this trip. The trip allowed me to take a step back and appreciate all that I have been given. Working directly with the homeless really hit home for me: to cook them a free, hot breakfast was more than rewarding, and it was something that I’ll never forget. I wish I could go back, and I plan to in the future!
Conwy castle in Conwy, Wales!
All photos courtesy of Jules Zimmerman