Around the world, we all still have a long way to go in the protection and conservation of our environment. However, many individuals, cities, and countries are beginning to make a difference!
Mumbai’s plastic ban
This summer, Mumbai banned all single-use plastics. This included; plastic bags, coffee cups, cling-wrap, straws, and any other one-time-use plastics. Individuals and businesses are held accountable. Penalties for first offenders range from 5,000 to 25,000 rupees and three months of jail time. Businesses such as McDonald’s and Starbucks have already been fined. While not everyone is happy about the sudden and extreme lifestyle change, the need to eliminate plastic (especially single-use plastic) is severe and necessary. Other cities have taken less drastic measures, for example, Vancouver’s recent straw ban. However, Mumbai’s more complete and comprehensive ban makes it a front-runner in environmentally-conscious cities.
Stockholm’s Congestion Toll
While many European countries have created traffic bans on holidays or specific days and are making plans to ban diesel vehicles, Sweden has been taking the extra step for some time now. Stockholm encourages riding bicycles or carpooling to work in another way; there is a congestion toll for driving in the city centre on weekdays between 6:30 and 18:29. This encourages drivers to at least use park-and-ride lots and take public transit into the city – if not carpool, cycle, or take transit the entire commute.
Freiburg Pedestrian City
In the city-centre of Freiburg, there are no cars allowed – and haven’t been since the 70’s! The pedestrian-only city has an extensive public transit system and pedestrian zones. In addition, a farmer’s market is open six days a week to promote eating local. After protests of a nuclear plant in 1975, Freiburg became dedicated to renewable energy – an effort that was doubled after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Freiburg’s energy policy is three-pronged: saving energy, using efficient technologies, and renewable energies. While solar energy is certainly the most visible, you can also find wind, hydropower, and biomass energy. All together, they make Freiburg a truly green city.
Copenhagen is home to an 11-mile bike path (or rather, “superhighway”) that passes through the city and allows commuters to bike to work on a bicycle-only highway. While Copenhagen already had tons of bike paths and bike lanes, the superhighway really promotes switching the car for a bicycle to get around the city. Trucks, cars, and other vehicular transportation make up a huge portion of the greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, so riding your bike to work is one of the best ways to go green!
Paris’ Car Bans
Cars made prior to the year 1997 have been banned from the streets of Paris during weekdays since 2016. Any rule-breakers are fined. Paris also makes smaller, short-term steps to reduce emissions like banning all even-numbered plates from driving for a day in 2014, a no-car day in 2015, and car-free Sundays which began in 2016. There are plans to double the bike lanes and limit certain streets to electric cars by 2020.
Madrid’s Car Ban
Madrid is set to ban all non-resident cars from driving in the city centre starting in November (just a few months away!). Only local-owned cars, taxis, public transit, and zero-emissions delivery vehicles will be permitted downtown. Madrid has been slowly taking steps towards becoming a greener city since 2005 when the city revealed its first pedestrian-only zone in the busy neighbourhood of Las Letras. In addition, Madrid plans to ban all cars from its city centre by 2020 by redesigning 24 of the busiest streets in the Spanish capital. Anyone who ignores the car ban could be fined at least 90 euros and more polluting cars will pay extra to park. The goal is to reduce daily car usage from 29% to 23%. If only every busy city followed in Madrid’s footsteps to reduce carbon emissions and go green!
Plastic bans in Canada
- Montreal, Quebec banned all single-use plastic bags in January 2018. Merchants had six months to adapt to this change. First time offenders can be charged a fine of up to $1,000 for an individual or $2,000 for a corporation.
- Victoria, British Columbia also just banned plastic bags in July 2018. Businesses are no longer allowed to offer plastic bags to customers. The city has launched several campaigns to help residents remember their reusable bags and adapt to the change.
- Vancouver, British Columbia is set to become the first Canadian city to ban plastic straws. The ban will come into effect Fall 2019. The ban also includes the prohibition of foam cups and containers, disposable cups, and plastic shopping bags.
- The government of Canada issued a nationwide ban of microbeads in cosmetic, beauty, and grooming products.
Don’t wait for your city to make you adapt to environmental progress! Everyone can make their own small steps to help the environment. Buy and use reusable straws. Take public transit to work once a week (or every day!). Remember to bring your reusable bags to the grocery story. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Take a step to going green!
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