Buenos Aires, an Eco Friendly and Sustainable Green City
During my initial few days in Buenos Aires roaming the streets I was surprised and overjoyed to see how green this city is, almost every street is lined by trees breaking up the grey of this huge city and providing some much needed shade to the sidewalks. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover Buenos Aires is also the proud home to over 250 parks and green spaces. Now these parks are not just decorations to impress tourists like myself, they are relevant to everyday life for Porteños (Buenos Aires inhabitants). These highly valued spaces are used to escape city life in nature with some fresh air, and provide a range of community benefits such as physical, environmental, psychological and social. A lot of Buenos Aires´green spaces can be accredited to French landscape architect, Carlos Thays, who was Buenos Aires Parks Director from 1891 until 1913. He personally oversaw the creation of 69 parks and plazas and the planting of 150,000 trees throughout the city. Thays believed strongly in the power of green spaces to restore the working man´s spirit. Back to the present there are also current and future plans to develop and create green spaces so there is little doubt that Buenos Aires will continue to grow greener, (forgive the pun).
Another more recent initiative adding to Buenos Aires´green vibe are its ciclovias (cycle ways) introduced in 2009. Currently with over 140 km of cycle paths and plenty more planned, biking around Buenos Aires has never been easier.The cycle ways are like mini two lane streets that run along the edge of main roadways and link up seamlessly to one another. Caution: Most streets in Buenos Aires are one way so it is really easy to forget when crossing a street with a bike lane to look both ways to avoid collisions with eco commuters.
While the idea of bikes as a method of transportation is still somewhat new to residents, cycling in Buenos Aires is quickly becoming more commonplace, much like it is in large cities in Europe. Buenos Aires also promotes biking as a transport option through its bike sharing program, EcoBici, as a means to reduce traffic congestion and environmental impact. Even better is that these bikes are absolutely free to use and are available from 8am to 8pm during the week and 9am to 3pm on Saturdays. Tourists interested in using the bike sharing program simply need to show their original passport and provide a photocopy as a form of insurance. Biking is a great way to see a lot of the city at your own pace, however if you feel you need a little guidance to navigate the busy city streets there is also plenty of guided biking tours.
Another green initiative still very much in its beginning stages but gaining momentum is the city’s overhaul of its waste management system. Late last year Buenos Aires was named one of the world’s top 10 cities battling global warming by the C 40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which looks at over 60 mega cities from all around the globe. Buenos Aires also received the City Climate Leadership Award for the City’s waste management policies the year before. The city’s Green Agenda, promoted with the slogan Ciudad Verde, has added hundreds of recycling bins throughout the city, as well as committing to reducing waste burial techniques, replacing them with more eco friendly approaches such as recycling or waste conversion. It also focuses on community engagement and education centring around greener methods of waste management. Though still in its infancy in a way, social awareness is growing and the idea of recycling and thinking green is starting to spread across the city. And that can not be anything but a wonderful compliment to Buenos Aires’ blossoming green scene (one one pun for the road.)