Overdue post about that trip to Portugal

October 8, 2007 at 1:55 pm 5 comments

AveiroBack when my camera still worked.

Well, seems like that sign I put up on my last post was more than accurate… I didn’t mean to. I really did mean to write about my adventures that very day but then I never got around to do it.

In the meantime, I packed up all my shit and moved, my boyfriend left and now I’m more or less settled in my new place. This time I will not get sidetracked. I will tell you all about my moving and my new place on one of my next posts.

Anyways, I’m gonna spare you all of the “ahhh we went here” and “ooh we went there” and all that “it was so nice” crap and cheesy pictures of us in front of this and that and get right down to the environmental stuff. So lets get on with it shall we, in a neatly organized fashion.

It rocked:

The metro network.It is only a few years old, but its really really good. Most of the times, it is more convenient than driving because its faster and parking is a pain. My boyfriend arrived a couple of days after me and I decided to try the metro service to pick him up. I was pretty impressed, it was really fast, VERY close to the terminal and no parking (which, at airports, is quite a rip off). The bus network is very good as well, but its not as easy to figure out, and the schedules are less predictable.

The recycling. Recycling is slowly making its way into mainstream culture. Now you have recycling bins in most public places like the airport and metro stations, and it looks like people actually use them. The recycling infrastructure is quite good. I missed the composting bin that I was used to here in Holland, but I think they are working on that too, they already started collection biodegradable waste from large producers. My mom is a very thorough recycler. I got her into it when I was still a pre-teen. I am very proud of her in this matter.

The market. Whereas most of supermarket food in Portugal is imported, the food at the market, where I demonstratively bought vegetables, was very local, most likely organic and dirt cheap. Now I just need to convince ClosetMom to shop there more often.

ClosetFriends. I was very impressed that ClosetFriends have the habit of picking up old batteries, if they see them laying around in the street and depositing them in the appropriate recycling bin. Bravo, ClosetFriends. Something I can learn from you. (insert suggestion for Vanessa here)

It sucked:

ClosetMom refuses to use the metro. Her work involves a lot of driving around the city, including during rush hour. She could totally use the metro at least for some trips, if it wasn’t so much trouble to figure out where the stops are *roll eyes*.

Smog. ClosetMom picked me up from the airport (see above). The first thing I noticed on the drive home, was how smoggy Porto looked. I didn’t remember it being like that last year. The horizon looked yellow, and I’m not exaggerating. Coincidence or not, I got a sore throat about a week later, that quickly developed into a cold. Yes, it could have been just a cold, but I think it was pollution related cold.

Plastic Bags. Man, this country has a plastic bag problem! Even if you buy just one tiny little thing, they stuff it in a bag before you have time to open your mouth. I have to say, unlike in the Netherlands, getting away without a useless bag took considerably more effort. But at some point, I got very good at announcing “No bag, please” as soon as I hand them my purchase.

The receipt holder fad. Now this was annoying. Since last time I was in Portugal, apparel shops developed this new fad. Now instead of just handing you your receipt, now they put it in a nice little cardboard receipt-holder thingy. WTF?? This time, I didn’t manage to develop a defense against this one because I was too perplexed to react, but next time I’ll be prepared. Bastards…

My camera may or may not be broken. It died on me in the middle a shot. I still have hope that it could have been the batteries (even though there was no indication that they were getting low), so now I am dreading the moment of truth, when I change the batteries and realize that I have to do something about the matter. In the mean time, I have no camera, and have already recurred to borrowing from strangers once. (Before, I was using ClosetBoyfriend’s digital to take all those fabulous pictures of my groceries). Now I’m thinking of buying a crappy second hand one to tie things over.

Greatest Accomplishments:

Refusing mom’s well meaning ride offers and getting around quite easily by metro, bus (1x) and walking. Managed to keep use of car to a minimum. Used the metro to go to the beach (thanks, global warming), the airport and city center bunch of times. In almost 2 weeks, used the car 5 times, including 2 trips to the airport and one ride from friends.

Addressed ClosetMom’s bottled water habit. She claims tap water is bad for the kidneys (bullshit) and it tastes bad (tasted just fine to me). Explained how bottled water has less quality and how plastic gives you cancer. Refused to drink bottled water thus proving there is nothing wrong with tap water. Before she used a plastic cup to drink from the water cooler in the office. Now keeps a cup there and explains to co-workers how plastic gives you cancer. They don’t believe her, saying “they wouldn’t deliberately give us all cancer”. So naive…

Got 2 ClosetFriends more interested in vegetarian food, and even got them to try some meatless cooking by themselves. Score. ClosetMom is more resistant to the idea, but I’ll get to her too… eventually.

Resolution of the washing machine ordeal.This one requires a little more background explanation. When I got to Portugal, I was informed that our washing machine was broken and that a new washing machine was scheduled to be delivered the next day. I, of course, was shocked that ClosetMom, despite being broke, ordered a +-500E washing machine, without even trying to fix the old one (age 7, and a very good brand, so technically, its still middle aged in washing machine years). I explained how the washing machine must be a cheap fix, and that ClosetMom was too quick to cough up 500 euros she didn’t have. However, it was already too late. However, it just so happened that ClosetMom was buying the display model and that the delivery guys were dumbasses. Because it was the display model and they were too lazy to pack it up, they were delivering it without any packaging, and then tried to fit it through the building door. Sure enough, when my mom saw her brand new washing machine all banged up around the sides, she knows nothing more than to say “well then, you can take your ~@?$^%*# washing machine and stuff it (…)”. And so, I had ClosetMom call the official repair service and for 50 bucks the thing was good as new. If that ain’t Karma, I don’t know what is. Now, whether this was a good or bad outcome in terms of greenness I don’t know. I really don’t know what they will do with that banged up washing machine. Maybe they’ll fix it. Maybe they’ll sell it. Maybe they’ll just recycle it. All I know is that ClosetMom wasn’t having a banged up washing machine. And I don’t think I would either.

For next time:

Get ClosetMom and ClosetFriends to Bring Their Own Bags when they go shopping. This time I didn’t have time to go shopping with ClosetMom, so the plastic bags issue didn’t “come up”. I’ll get them all next time. MauAUauahahAAHahAHA!!

Get everyone DivaCups for their B’days. I already started psychologically preparing ClosetMom, showing her my Diva, telling her how great it is… I think I’ll get her one for Xmas now. MauAUauahahAAHahAHA!!

Lessons Learned:

  • You must know your enemy and be prepared to strike back. It’s the surprise attacks that screw us over.
  • When trying to get someone to change their ways, people always respond better when you put things in terms of “What’s in it for me”, like “save money” or “NOT get cancer”. I found that “its better for the environment” crap gets you nowhere, so I don’t even go there.
  • It’s not that people are trying to harm the environment, its just that sometimes they don’t know any better. Most of the time, they just don’t know there is a better way. Like ” you don’t HAVE to take bags every time just because they try to give you one”.

And so, even though I didn’t offset my trip (partly because I’m broke, partly because I still haven’t made up my mind on offsetting), I would say that the overall impact of my trip goes a long way towards canceling out the plane rides. Or at least I prefer to think so.

 

 

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Entry filed under: Diva cup, environment, Family, food, recycling, shopping, travel. Tags: , .

Went to Portugal. But I’m back now. Why I’m NOT doing Blog Action Day

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mary  |  October 9, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    I have all my cloth bags in my car. After I unload groceries I go right back out to the car and put there there. Once you make a routine out of it it’s easy.

    I saw a woman at the market yesterday who bought about 5 mesh bags and she put them in a plastic bag and then had all her groceries in plastic bags. Go figure!?

  • 2. Emily  |  October 10, 2007 at 11:51 am

    It is such a pain to recycle batteries here in London. In the US, you could drop them at a lot of stores, but here you have to make a special trip to the dump. We don’t use many batteries, but the ones we do use we hoard until we see someone obviously packing a car for the dump and then attack them with a sack of batteries.

    Re: smog — we’ve been sick a lot since moving to London and I’m pretty sure it’s the pollution.

    But, it could also be the water. We were filtering our drinking water, but it was still pretty bad. I could tell because when the baby was exclusively breastfed, his poop was nasty. We were getting stomach bugs, etc. Finally, we found a water delivery place. Each month, they deliver big containers of water that go on a cooler (which I do not turn on because I like warm water and why use the refrigerant?) The next month, they take away the old containers to refill. It has improved our overall health considerably, although we still have constant rashes from bathing in the water here. (Oh, and the water place delivers to the whole neighborhood at once — cutting down on driving.)

    I know that tap water is fine in most places, and we did drink it every other place we’ve lived, but do keep in mind it ain’t perfect everywhere.

    Yeah — I jump on the bag thing as soon as I hand over my purchase, too. Do they not NOTICE the giant empty bag on my shoulder?!

  • 3. Chile  |  October 10, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Nice report, Alina. It sounds like it was a great trip overall. I can’t imagine getting all my friends Diva Cups though… I showed my MIL the Luna Pads on her last visit and wouldn’t you figure, I grabbed a stained one. It was pretty darn embarrassing!

  • 4. the other emily  |  October 11, 2007 at 3:43 am

    Wow, so many victories! I began telling my sister about GladRags, but it’s bad timing on my part because she’s pregnant right now anyways. We did discuss cloth diapers, though. I’ll keep working on her so that, when the baby arrives, she can just make the switch. I have till February to achieve this.

    I have a question about Portuguese environmental problems: how is the draught / water supply situation there? I know they have a lot of problems in Spain (regions where it doesn’t rain for 6 months at a time, etc). Are conditions similar in Portugal, since the countries are so geographically close and share a lot of landscape features? Have you lobbied Closet-lovedones not to use much water?

  • 5. Alina  |  October 11, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Emily, fortunately in Portugal recycling batteries is extremely easy. There is a container in every store/supermarket and almost every recyclables collection spot. In Holland, just in the supermarkets, but its still pretty easy. Its true, water quality will vary but in places where it is good, and in Portugal it is, I don’t see the point of bottled water.

    Chile, yes it was quite nice 😀 Personally, I think the Diva Cup is much less ‘eek’ than cloth pads. Still I know that I should get them used to the idea 1st…

    Other Emily, in the North there is plenty of rain. In the south there is drought. There was one year when I went on holiday to the south while there was drought and there were a lot of campaigns for everyone to save water. Still, in Algarve, that was being affected by drought, I saw swimming pools and lawn sprinklers everywhere.

    Mary, welcome!

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