Consumeless for a year

A journal of a year of consuming less and consuming sustainably

Sustainability at the airport 07/01/2010

Yesterday I had to travel to Italy, to be part of a PhD commission. So I had to consume as little as possible while traveling. Not so easy. It was a long trip, had to take the train to Brussels and fly to Rome first, where I had a very long stay over. Next, I had to fly to Bolzano (in a tiny tiny plane, with propellers!). The first part was easy. The only thing  I missed was buying a cup of coffee on the train station. Unfortunately, the train to Brussels (which runs only once every hour) was cancelled so I had to call Eise to drive me to Liege to take a train there.  Not the most sustainable option, but the only option.

One of the two power sockets I was able to find at Rome airport

At Brussels airport I didn’t consume anything. I did plug in my laptop to a power socket to work a bit. In the plane I very economically asked for two drinks so I didn’t have to buy so many drinks during my stop over. I was pleased to see that they did not have cans or bottles of drinks in the plane. Everybody got a (plastic) cup of water, juice or soda from a large bottle.

At Rome airport, I really needed to plug in my laptop again to finish my work. And really,  there were no publicly available power sockets, not a single one! How do the cleaners vacuum that place? They need electricity! But I finally found two cafés with one socket each. So during my stay over I bought two cups of espresso to be able to use some electricity :-s.

Most sustainable food option I could find at Rome airport...

I had supper at the airport as well (I did bring my own sandwiches for lunch!). I had a vegetarian pasta and a bottle of water. No other choice than a bottle, unfortunately. But I kept the bottle to refill it for the remainder of my stay at the airport and in the plane. As for the pasta, I planned to choose seasonal and local ingredients, but I’m afraid no seasonal ingredients were available. So I had pasta with cherry tomatoes. Very little ingredients though! Unfortunately, the café I had dinner had plastic cutlery… Not so sustainable and also not so comfortable.

In Bolzano, I had to take a taxi to my hotel. No trains or busses there. My hotel room was so immensely hot that I switched off the heating completely and took off my vest (and I never take of my vest!). Not sustainable at all. Who wants a hot hotel room? I should actually say something about that to the reception guy, but that makes me feel such a bore!

So overall, I am pretty satisfied. I would have appreciated more sustainable options, but I think that given the circumstances I did OK. And I noticed that I wasn’t at all interested in all the shops at the airport, I wasn’t allowed to buy anything anyway! What I do really regret, is that I didn’t look into train options to travel to Bolzano when I booked the flights last year. I think that might have been a seriously good option for this trip! I have a few new dilemma’s though:

  • Do escalators use significantly more energy when people are standing on them (I mean escalators that are working anyway, not those that are not moving when no one is using them)?
  • How long could you politely stay seated in an airport café (and use the power socket) after buying one drink?


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Consumeless meetings – part II 05/01/2010

A short update of my experiences at work. Today I had another meeting with sandwiches, and guess what, not a single vegetarian sandwich! Meat and fish only! So I had a dilemma. Normally, I do eat fish, but I don’t eat meat. This year I wanted to eat purely vegetarian. I had two options (besides not eating anything at all, which was not an option): call the situation an emergency and eat fish after all, or remove the ham from a ham & cheese sandwich (with the obvious disadvantage of ham taste on my cheese sandwich). I chose the fish option, but I regretted it a bit afterwards. Next time I’ll remove the ham in the hope the persons ordering and delivering the sandwiches see it as a sign that not everyone likes to eat meat!

I did have the opportunity to make the right choice for drinks by the way. In the meeting room were loads of canned and bottled juices, sodas and waters, but also a thermos of coffee and a can of tap water. So I drank coffee and tap water! No waste.

Tomorrow will be a more challenging day. I’m flying to Italy for a meeting. I have a terribly long stayover at Rome, and I’m not allowed to bring my own bottle of water. I’ll bring lunch, but I’ll have to buy drinks and dinner I’m afraid. Let’s see what Rome Fiumicino airport has to offer in terms of sustainable food!


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