During my time in Iceland, I will be taking a course called “Sustainable Leadership in the 21St Century” at Bifrost University. This course is a business leadership course that has a focus in sustainable and social responsibility. To put it briefly, Iceland is a place like no other. Not only is it amazing for its breathtaking scenery and natural marvels, but also for its environmental responsibility. Iceland is the hub for sustainability efforts and clean energy. During my first week on the island, I have already noticed many different forms of conscious living in the Icelanders’ everyday life.
Iceland is lucky enough to located in such a hot spot, and I mean that quite literally. Iceland is an island with a tremendous amount of volcanic activity. Yes, they do have to factor in the occasional earthquake and eruption, but contrary to common belief, this is actually a very good thing. This volcanic activity provides the island with clean geothermal energy. The thermal springs generate boiling water that has been naturally heated by the earth’s core. Then, geothermal plants harvest this natural energy in the form of steam. The steam is used to turn turbines which then creates electricity. These plants generate a majority of the entire island’s energy. The rest of the energy used comes from other forms of clean energy. The excess hot water is pumped to the nearby towns and cities to provide radiant heat and hot water. Here in Iceland, conservation is key; nothing goes to waste.
Speaking of waste, I knew Iceland was the place for me when I visited a bar in Reykjavik and was greeted with a sign that reads “We do not serve straws”. These eco-friendly signs can be found in all parts of Reykjavik. Before heading out to sea on a whale watching excursion with my mom, the crew made sure to give us a speech of plastic pollution and how to properly recycle during our time on board. It was refreshing to hear these words coming from someone besides myself. Informative posters covered the walls to ensure that all the passengers were aware of their waste and how it impacts our planet. This moved far beyond the ship and into various bars and restaurants we visited. Due to being on a small island, Icelandic people have to be very conscious of the amount they consume and use. This consciousness is extremely beneficial to our planet’s health.
I later found out that many excursion providers and tour groups promote something called the Icelandic Pledge. It is a pledge for tourist to promise that they will travel responsibly and respect the surrounding nature to help preserve it for future generations to enjoy. I think that this is an amazing idea and I truly think it is working. During my time in Iceland, I have seen little to no litter. This is a huge difference from what I have seen in other places in Europe. It shows that the tourists respect where they are traveling and that they also respect the sustainability efforts that have been put into place by the Icelandic people.
Sustainability and environmental responsibility is so important to the Icelandic people. This environmental consciousness is something that comes from the old Icelandic culture. Much of the Icelandic culture is similar to how it has been for hundreds of years. The earth has provided so much for them over time and they can see it very evidently. They understand that we must tread lightly on our earth to preserve it for the generations to come. This way of thinking is so inspiring to me and I genuinely believe that we could learn a lot from Icelandic culture of conscious living. I am so lucky to be here studying my passion is such an influential place.