Seoul Turns Me Green

Justine Josue

Going green is a conscious effort for me in the U.S., but on this trip to Seoul, I have been saving more energy and resources day to day without even trying.

All dishes and utensils of my first three meals here were washable. Leftover food and thin index-card sized napkins were the only items I had to throw away. At West Side Dining, it is not unusual to see the dispensers overflowing with plastic utensils, refuse of wasteful students.

A plastic bag rolling through the wind is the tumbleweed of New York City. Stony Brook University displays endless supplies of plastic bags at most cafeterias and stores. However, I couldn’t find a single one on Dongguk University’s campus, and obtaining one at Lotte Mart (like Korea’s Walmart) cost extra.

Growing up, Mom would always remind me to turn off all the lights before leaving. My room here does that for me. The dorms have a slot by the door for the key card to activate the power, making it impossible to leave an empty room with anything still on. (Unless you want to get locked out, like I have twice so far.)

At the subway, I once paused at the frozen escalators and assumed they were broken. Our guide went right on without a second thought, and they awoke from their slumber. They are idle when there is no one there.

Koreans have perfected the smart technology that senses when it’s needed. Energy shouldn’t flow when there’s no one there to use it. Common sense.

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