The Top 5 Reasons Why Europeans Are More Eco Than Americans

Drive small and thrive might well be the European motto. Green actions speak louder than words in Europe when it comes to energy and consumption and walking the walk. They ride bikes and walk more than we do to get around, use and waste less of our limited resources, have a different sense of space. Just don’t throw around terms like green and eco expecting everyone there to know what you mean.

Throughout my travels in Italy, the term “eco” got lost in translation – and I resorted to hand signs and terms such as nature and sun power to investigate the Italian practices or describe what I do for a living. Still, many signs show Europeans have as beat when it comes to practicing restraint in their lifestyles and consumption.

It could simply stem from resources like water and petrol being considered more precious. As a college student in England, I was told my gin and tonics lacked ice because freezing water for cocktails was frivolous. I suppose this also explained the dull hair many of us have witnessed in our European travels. Fewer showers are another concession to save. In this sense, French cologne is indispensable and might also be lauded as green.

Also woven into the culture is smaller, more economical cars and homes, due to population density, higher fuel costs and necessity. Honda Civics might be considered an adequate family car – not the minivan, which would be more for tourists. If you aren’t walking, biking or taking public transit, as more Europeans do as a matter of practicality and habit, then you are most likely tooting around in a compact (although power counts in certain circles where larger BMWs hold status).

“Whether in crowded cities like Rome or Budapest, or centuries-old villages, people get around on their own power,” notes eco travel writer, Wendy Worrall Redal. “It’s easier than negotiating jammed streets, finding scarce parking and paying $10 a gallon for gas. Age has nothing to do with it; you’re as likely to see a wrinkled grandmother toting a wheeled market cart or pedaling her cruiser, as you are more youthful cyclists.”

Here are some comparisons….

Banning Cosmetic Chemicals

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Activists trying to rid our shelves and salons of toxic chemicals point to the fact the European Union has banned 1,100 chemicals in cosmetics, while the  Food and Drug Administration in America has only banned ten. The nasty agents the FDA approves cause cancer, birth defects, genetic mutation and organ damage. It appears our regulatory system has no authority to test cosmetic chemicals or require companies to conduct safety testing before selling. Definitions also vary. The FDA defines cosmetics on vague lingo to minimizing government interference form profiteering, while the The European Union Cosmetics Directive clearly puts thee health of the consumer first. Why are their laws more stringent? Undoubtedly the same reason why the government is loose on meat protections. It’s all about the money.

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.