Tuesday, August 2, 2022



It’s a delight conversing with you all! There are a few things in my mind, which I wish to share with you all, regarding the environmental awareness I experienced in the part of US that I visited. Care is taken in very small ways, but which goes a long way, in terms of caring!

It was the month of May, 2012! My son had moved from Stanford University, Paulo Alto, CA, to Bellevue, WA, US. We planned a visit to Bellevue, to meet him and to get a feel of his working and residing place! It was our first visit to the US, followed by many more, later on! 

It was a Delta KLN flight, destination Seattle Tacoma; with a layover of about three hours at Amsterdam. I was excited about travelling to the other half of the globe, which was exactly 12 hours behind us. We had talked to him often and were well aware of the impact; the time zone lag has, on human body. It was an era of no whatsapp, so no whatsapp calls. There was no logging in at the airports. Our mobiles were quite useless, till we reached home in US. We were aware that the only connection after we took off would be at the layover point, where we could send an e-mail about our whereabouts to our son or relatives at the other end! It sounds so funny and out of date today; we can’t imagine a situation like this, bringing home the fact that communication and technology have advanced so magnanimously!

The flight took off at about 1.30 early morning, underlining the fact that now we were cut off from land, homeland as well as our destination. A grumpy feeling engulfed me. Being suspended in the air for hours together can act funnily on your psyche. The time was such that finally we fell asleep, not even for about an hour when we were awakened for food. We were not hungry as it was our midnight but we accepted, for the fear of being hungry later on. Flights to US, feed you so much, at all odd times, that you really don’t feel like eating, hours after you reach your destination! It’s all because of the 12 hours’ time difference! After about ten hours, we reached Amsterdam. We had started in the night and we continued travelling in the night, as when we reached Amsterdam, it was night! 

I had read about Amsterdam and the airport, so was curious to see how it was! It was a very lively and clean place; all hustle and bustle! Three hours, on paper, seemed a long time, but it proved to be very short, when we actually reached there. Huge airport, getting down from one flight, finding your boarding gate for the next flight, all formalities proved three hours to be less. What I was impressed about were the sparkling clean washrooms, which were cleaned immediately after every use. Later on I experienced that washrooms even in the remotest places were very clean, a delight! Rampant use of tissue papers was observed everywhere. Clean drinking water was no problem at any place. Shops with curios and mementoes were alluring.

Flight to Tacoma Seattle took next twelve hours, the screen in front of my seat showing the places on earth, which we were flying over. It was a mesmerizing view out of the window, at the same time, fearful too. Crossing seven seas, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Europe, Canada and finally when the wheels touched the land of Tacoma Seattle, we heaved a sigh of relief!

After taking an underground train to the luggage belt site, finally we were ready to move out. My son’s smiling face relieved us of all the travel fatigue! The view from his car window was our first glimpse at the USA. High rises, green belts, lawns, beautiful roads, fly overs, disciplined traffic, cyclists, almost no two wheelers, few pedestrians, no shouts, no horns, no hawkers, were a few things I noticed at first sight.

Bellevue is one of the eight most beautiful cities in USA. Our residing place was near Downtown Park in Bellevue. We walked down every day and observed that, as pedestrians, we were very much respected. Cars in full speed too would stop and let us pass. People greeted us, as they walked by. All streets were lined with pots with fully blooming roses and other flowers, which no one touched! Trees laden with apples too, were untouched. I couldn’t quite imagine this happening but later learnt that the thought, “What is not mine, belongs to the state” was deeply ingrained in the citizens. Not a speck of paper, dust, debris could be seen on the road. The park was huge, citizens of all ages strolling around. There were many with pet dogs, at the leash; what truly surprised me was that the dog owners would scoop up their poops and clean up the place! There were huge dust bins everywhere, more importantly, which were used. 


Bellevue Library is a wonderful place; Mahatma Gandhi's statue outside made us feel at home. You can take any book or magazine and comfortably sit in any place, for hours together. Cleanliness, neatness, discipline was very obvious. We even took membership for a month as we were truly fascinated by the system and order in that place. Citizens of all ages visited and sat around reading. All facilities like scanning, zeroxing, computer, internet were provided to the visitors, as they believe in developing a reading culture amongst the citizens! 


Carpooling is appreciated by the state; there are separate lanes for cars with more number of passengers and they save time. There is no horn honking, no speeding beyond a limit and no throwing litter out of the cars. Separate lanes for cyclists are seen everywhere. Helmets are mandatory. The physically less privileged, children, aged are given priority, wherever possible!

In the residential areas, there are green belts, small forests, after every big community, which are functioning like lungs for the establishment. I observed ponds in the forests, where placards were put up, instructing passers-by not to disturb the natural ponds in any way, so as to maintain the ecosystems. Wetlands are protected similarly.



Each society has very similar types of houses, with huge backyards, similar front yards and chimneys, painted in two or three colours. This helps in keeping uniformity and an ethnic beauty. Well planned look is definitely more attractive.                                    

Lush green lawns, almost like prairies, can be seen very often along the roads, where rabbits, deer, ducks are rampant and freely grazing. Traffic stops to a halt, if they wish to cross the roads and they too, do it in groups! There are sign boards for vehicle drivers, instructing them to stop if they see animals crossing the roads. 


Speed limit is strict and the huge penalty is sent directly to your numbers or on mail, by the cops in blue, in blue light flashing cars. They are feared by the public! Penalty goes on increasing, if you do not pay it in time! 

We noticed that it was pre-election time, but the size of campaigning placards used was pre-decided, small and compact, which fitted at the end of road dividers. No huge banners, hoardings, placards with wishes; which was mind refreshing change! The beauty and sanctity of the place is maintained.      

All water is drinking water; thus purified and potable. Homes are equipped with hot and cold water tanks and basins are fitted with crushers below the drains; so that if any vegetables or solid debris goes down the drain, it can be mashed and it then goes to the drainage tanks. Imagine how much load on the sewage system is decreased; moreover, it also avoids blockages.

Homes are provided with three wheeled and closed dust bins, about four feet height; green, blue and black. The green is for dumping all wet, biodegradable waste from the house like kitchen waste, blue for dry recyclable waste like paper, plastics, metal and black one for e-waste. Each week, one specific day is allotted to a locality, when one is supposed to wheel the dust bins out, at a particular point on the front road; the special waste disposal vans come at a particular time and empty the waste in closed tanks in the van. No open debris, no foul smell, no filthy sites!


One is not supposed to smoke in public places; there are special smoking zones provided. 


At the bus stops, there are recycling dust bins, making it convenient for all to use. Public transport systems are strong, clean and very sensitive, with respect to time. So much so, that even a second’s delay is flashed on the screen, at the bus stop.

There are forest trails all over Redmond, Bellevue, Seattle, Kirkland, Woodinville, wherever possible. These are well maintained, with tall shady trees and a boon for trailers, hikers, pet owners and regular strollers. Natural eco-systems are maintained here; preserving, protecting the environment.


In tourist spots like Mount Rainier, various interesting quotes and placards are put up for the tourists, urging them to respect the environment and nature. 

One great gesture I observed was that whenever you visit a restaurant or hotel, at the end of the meals, they provide you with TOGO boxes; requesting you to carry all left over food, so that it wouldn't be wasted; moreover the money you spent, is respected! 

What I realized was, it’s necessary to inculcate an awareness about the environment in a child, right from its formative age. A child imitates parents and hence it is necessary to imbibe good habits in every citizen, young or old. Unless one understands the importance of  protecting, preserving, propagating nature and its values and considers the earth as one's own home, the deterioration cannot be reversed. 
So much for now!  Let's think about how such an awareness would be created around us! 

Prof. Dr. Jaya Kurhekar,

Green Blogger