Zagreb & Makarska

Friday, July 30, 2010

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After an exciting meander through Austria and brief drive through Slovenia, my family and I arrived in Croatia. We went to Zagreb first and I was pleasantly surprised to find that recycling programs had been put in place, with a particular focus being placed on having the appropriate bins in parks, along beaches, and other similar, family-friendly locations. The next logical step would be to put more stations or bins in more central city locations, particularly downtown, where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic.

The thing is, given the kind of general mentality that prevails in most Balkan cities, simply putting the bins in plain view isn’t going to do a whole lot. Not that this isn’t a great start, but it must be done in tandem with educating the general populace about why recycling is necessary.

The public transport in the city is already very eco-friendly, as Zagreb has been connecting its many neighbourhoods with trams for years, and the supplemental bus lines have updated their fleet so the vehicles are more fuel efficient and pollute less (as much as can be expected from fossil-fuel burning vehicles). Overall, I observed a very positive shift.

Where Zagreb impressed me with its advancement in recent years, Makarska distinctly fell behind. As a predominantly tourist town situated on the Adriatic coast, it entertains large amounts of people from all over Europe and the world, and as such, should be aware of its environmental impact. Finding any place to recycle any sort of material was next to impossible; only the largest supermarket has a bottle reclamation drop-off and a paper recycling depot.

Though it is lacking in opportunities to recycle, almost all of the food available in its markets is locally grown (and extremely delicious!), so it isn’t entirely destructive from a sustainable point of view. The behaviour of the locals versus the tourists is also very different, as one group is transient, and the other is permanent, having to deal with whatever the tourists leave behind. As this is the case, the locals are more likely to produce less waste and live in a more sustainable manner than the individuals just passing through on vacation.

In any case, these are my impressions; there could be a lot more below the surface that I am not aware of, and can’t see because I’m not a local. Ah well! We move on regardless to our next destination: Bosnia!

- vedrana

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