What the US Can Learn from Other Countries About Sustainability

The US is a big leader in everything from economics to humanitarian service. But America isn’t number one in everything, and there’s a lot that America can learn from other countries. This is particularly apparent when it comes to sustainability.

Sourcing the products our nation needs from sustainable sources is more important than ever, as reports keep circulating about the loss of valuable climate across the country. Today, we’ll look at a few lessons America can learn from other countries about sustainability.

Renewable Energy

According to Goodnet.org, Iceland leads the entire world in renewable energy production. An astounding 72% of the energy used in Iceland comes from either hydro- or geothermal-powered sources. Of course, Iceland has a tiny population when compared to the United States, but America could potentially replicate Iceland’s success in individual states.

While it may be difficult to generate a lot of hydropower in the west, the eastern part of America could likely do more to increase its use of renewable energy.

Sustainable Paper

In Thailand, there’s a fascinating amount of work being done in sustainability. At Double A Paper, we contract with local farmers throughout the country to grow paper trees on the unused land between rice paddies, called the “KHAN-NA.” Growing these low-maintenance trees helps farmers to create extra income.

On top of that, the pulping process of these trees uses every part of the tree, even converting part of the tree into renewable biomass fuel. That helps supply energy to 400,000 people in Thailand. The US has plenty of land where a system like this could easily be replicated.

Au Revoir, Plastic

France, despite being one of the more industrialized European countries, is also a leader in sustainability efforts.

France isn’t messing around when it comes to plastic. They recently passed a law requiring all plastic manufacturers in France to only create goods with biodegradable materials.

They also imposed a deadline of 2020 to accomplish this. Their sustainability prowess might prove to be a huge tourist draw, as more and more people across the world are waking up to the necessity of living in a sustainable society.

Considering the amount of plastic consumed in the US, this could be a really difficult task for America to replicate. Nevertheless, there’s an opportunity for America to impose similar biodegradable restrictions on a variety of industries.

Decrease CO2 emissions

Denmark leads the world in many different categories, but what’s really impressive is the dedication of the citizens of Copenhagen, the country’s capital, to cutting C02 emissions.

Currently, 50% of Copenhagen residents bike or walk to work. Every year, this saves an estimated 90,000 tons of C02 emissions.

Imagine if the US tried to implement a program like that in cities like Boston, New York, or Philadelphia. These are places that already have large public transit infrastructure, where offering incentives to walk or bike to work wouldn’t be a stretch for local governments.

While the United States is a leader in many areas, there’s still a lot of catching up to do regarding sustainability. A big change like those mentioned above won’t come overnight, but these are achievable goals.