Sarajevo, Bosnia

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Photo Credit: guy_incognito (Flickr)

After a nice stint in Croatia, my parents, brother and I drove to our so-called “Motherland” to visit family, and eat preposterous amounts of my grandma’s cooking. I wasn’t really expecting Sarajevo to have addressed any of its ecological problems, due to the fact the standard of living is drastically lower than any of the other countries that we visited. One of the biggest problems that the city faces is the incredible amount of smog generated by the masses of poorly-maintained, past-their-prime, inefficient vehicles being driven. Many of the cars on the road spew out putrid black smoke, and when you add all of it together, it poses a severe health hazard. This effect is only amplified by the fact that Sarajevo is located in a valley, directly surrounded by mountains that trap all of this polluted air and keep it hovering above the general populace.

The urban population numbers around 423,645 and the locals often joke that there are more cars than people in Sarajevo, which would definitely explain the poor air quality. In addition to an air pollution problem, the city has serious issues concerning littering and the general attitude towards the environment. The prevailing mentality is that of “I’m just one person, and this one piece of garbage won’t affect anything.” This way of thinking is not only wrong, but it severely damages what is an otherwise gorgeous city surrounded by ample greenery.

It does have to be mentioned that a majority of the produce and meat consumed within the city is procured from local suppliers and farms, so the inhabitants, inadvertently, are almost all on the 100 mile diet! Not to mention the fact that the local farmers are a lot less likely to use large amounts of chemicals on their plants, and the food tastes infinitely better as a result. Their main modes of transportation are trams and trolleybuses, which run on electricity and are infinitely better for the environment than a large fleet of buses. Though there are bus lines running in Sarajevo, a vast majority of people opt for the trams and trolleybuses for regular transport.

The main problem in Sarajevo, and Bosnia as a whole, is the standard of living, and the mentality that has formed over the last two decades as a result. Inhabitants are only focused on getting through each day, rather than considering the long-term effects of their actions, sustainably-speaking. That’s not to say that the entire country is doing really poorly, but the average person falls within these generalizations. They’ve got a long way to go to in establishing a sustainable society, but chances are that they won’t make any steps in the next few years; there’s a lot more going on in that area that has priority over establishing recycling programs and cutting down on vehicle emissions.

Next time: Italy & Switzerland!

- vedrana

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