Eco-friendly Habits We can learn from Italians

biking as an eco-friendly habit in Italy

The third in the Real Talk on Sustainable Living – an interview series on people who try to live sustainably in their own way. This is an Italian’s story of eco-friendly living.

Italy is Europe’s second largest manufacturing sector. There are a lot of eco-friendly habits we can learn from its citizens. For example, in terms of recycling, Italians do it in greater quantities than the rest of Europe.

I interviewed Alessia de Bonis who lives in South Italy to learn how she and Italians go green. She shares tips on being in tune with nature by choosing low-waste activities and places to travel. Get inspired by her story of running an energy-efficient household in an eco-friendly village.

1. Tell me about yourself. Where do you work and live in?

Hello, my name is Alessia and I live in a small town in South Italy.  

2. What’s your typical day like?

In this period, I work at home and so I stay mostly inside because it’s winter here. Usually in spring and summer, I stay a lot of time in the nature, have long walks and riding my electric bike.

3. What is Italy’s natural landscape. What peaks your interest?

Where I live, mostly green hills and mediterranean scrub. But I really like seaside too.

4. How do you live in tune with nature?

I live in a countryside so it’s easy for me. I live in a region named Basilicata that is full of wood.

5. How do Italians perceive nature?

Italians like a lot to stay in nature, especially in weekends and summer.  Italians think that nature gives recharge and relax.  In some regions, like for example, “Trentino Alto Adige” and “Valle D’Aosta”, they have a big culture about trekking and climbing the mountain.

6. How do you deal with waste?

I’m doing separate waste collection, my entire town choose to do that.  

7. How do you travel? Public transport or personal vehicle?

It depends. If it’s possible, I use public transport. 

8. How do Italians perceive stuff or owning things?

We are far from a minimalist way of live. for Italians, owning things is perceived as wealth. But there is growing interest about recycle and used things, for example in fashion and furniture, buying vintage clothes or old wardrobes and tables and renew that. 

9. Are you a minimalist or maximalist?

A middle between them.    

10. In your culture, how do you view food?

For Italians, food is very important. It’s not only a fuel for the body but a philosophy and a way of live. Italians usually sit in a table to eat and it is a way to stay with people, chatting and relaxing. For Italians, it is also important to eat organic. Most of us prefer cook fresh things and not already prepared.  

11. What are your favorite foods that are low-waste?

I have a personal vegetable garden and small orchard so it’s pretty easy for me. I love fruits, especially cherries and apples.

A simple recipe is one piece of pumpkin slice, a two medium carrot and potato, let them boil for 30/40 minutes and then whisk together. At the end add extra-virgin olive oil and nutmeg 

12. How do you avoid food waste?

We usually prepare fresh food but sometimes we also cook leftovers in following days.

13. Do Italians go renewable?

Yes, There are a lot of European incentives for eolic and fotovoltaic. Even if there is a big debate about spoiling the landscape.

14. How do you keep an energy-efficient household? What are the challenges you are facing?

We are looking for installing fotovoltaic panels, for now we try to turn on the heater only if necessary.  

15. What climate policies does Italy have?

There is incentives for renewable energy even if the precedent government trying to reintroduce hydrocarbons with “Sblocca-Italia”. But there was a referendum about it and people voted against it.  

16. Does your country have zero waste stores? What do you recommend?

There is shops on taps in big and medium city, people are discovering them. I had also one in my town with soap and draft detergent but it has closed. 

17. Do Italians businesses implement eco-friendly policies such as plastic bag or straw bans?

Yes, it is mandatory from some years to use biodegradable bags in supermarket so you can buy them or use your own bag. 

18. What eco-friendly habits do Italians practice the most?

  • Separate waste collection,
  • buy organic and zero km food,
  • using public transport if possible,
  • using bike,
  • do full loaded dishwasher and washing machine,
  • using led lamps.  

19. Based on your experience in Europe and other countries, what can Italy do better in being eco-friendly?

Do incentive policies to make houses completely self-sufficient like in Germany. Help and give incentives for industries that turn green.   

20. For free spirits who want to be in tune with nature, what do you recommend they do?

Choose to live in small city surrounded by nature, it is still possible! Choose to stay in nature at the weekend: practice yoga, trekking, climbing,  or riding a bicycle. 

About Alessia de Bonis

Alessia de Bonis is a free-spirited woman. She is a photographer and social media manager, living in a picturesque Italian village. She loves to work with nature and creative things. You can find her ideas on fashion, beauty, home, DIY and travel in her Italian-language blog, Alixia Cafe.

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