Saturday, July 12, 2008

What we can learn from Europe

As promised, here is our list of things we would like to see the United States learn from Europe. This list is compiled with the help of Benjamin and Alexander.

  1. MASS TRANSIT - It is possible to visit Europe without a car. You can't say that about the United States, unless you are only visiting major cities. Rail travel in the US is a nightmare. Here, people regularly take the train to other cities. You can also bring your bike on the train, which we have seen quite often.
  2. OBESITY - I have seen no one who could be labeled "grossly overweight." Why? Because their portions are much smaller, there is no transfat in their food, and people walk or bike just about everywhere!
  3. ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS - Europe has many incentives to do the right thing environmentally. For example, you either bring your own bags to the store or pay for new ones. You also sort your garbage or are fined. There are even extra fees to drive your car into big cities, encouraging mass transit.
  4. FRESH LOCAL FOODS - Visit the butcher, baker, produce store on a daily basis and you know from where your food comes. Hermann personally knows the person who makes both his bread and his honey. In Copenhagen, there were many fruit and vegetable stands throughout the city.
  5. BIKE PATHS - There are separate lanes for cars, bikes, and walkers. Free air stations are all around the town of Odense. Today I even saw a speed limit sign for bikers!
  6. NATIONAL PRIDE/UNITY - The European football championships say it all.
  7. LAWSUIT UNAWARENESS - There are fun playgrounds here with much less adult supervision. We have seen playgrounds taht would make US lawyers salivate, and they are always the ones our kids love the most. Parents don't watch their children every second -they are more laid back while kids are playing at playgrounds.
  8. CITIES ARE QUITER - Benjamin and Alexander find the cities here quiter than major US cities.
  9. REWEARING CLOTHING - Here, you wash your clothes when they are dirty, not after you have worn them only once. It saves the clothes, and the environment, too.
  10. NAKEDNESS - I'm not sure how to title this last one, but people her are much more open. At the lake in Ottersberg, people change into their suits right in front of everyone. The young kids ran around naked. The ads in the subway show naked men. And don't even start with the art. Nakedness is everywhere!!

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