Sustainability in Italy

April 10, 2023

By Lily Hoy, ISEP Exchange student at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Italy, home to stunning sceneries such as the rolling hills of Tuscany, the quality produce used to make wine and pasta, all a part of the Mediterranean lifestyle. Italians are famously one of the healthiest European countries, and this ties into their sustainable and innovative everyday life choices. Whether you are planning to study abroad in Milan, or planning a visit, you will notice the sustainable strategies Italy implement to ensure the wellbeing of the environment.

Travel and Transport

There are so many ways in which you can explore Milan, and Italy as a whole. Milan has one of the best city transportation networks; and this is coming from someone who has lived with quick access to the London underground. With many options such as the ATM network consisting of the metro, the bus, trains, and trams, you will never be stuck in one place. You may be thinking- “but buses contribute to carbon emissions”, however in 2019 Milan created a law banning the most-polluting vehicles from 75% of the city. Most of the buses and cars you see running in Milan are, in fact, electric, and the city aims to convert all transport to electric by 2030.

Aside from public transport, you will see the options for electric scooters and bikes on every street, which are open to the public (for a small fee). Many people in Milan opt for cycling around the city since it is quite small in comparison to other major cities. Alongside benefitting the environment, this is also why Italians are very healthy- only 80% of Italians own a vehicle, compared to 91% of Americans. These positive changes implemented by the Italian government mean that they are aiming to reduce atmospheric emissions of Co2 by 2.3 million tonnes per year.

Markets, Farming, and Production

A large part of the Italian lifestyle is visiting the farmers’ market weekly. In Milan, there is a fresh produce market every day in different parts of the city. Selling fresh and exotic fruits, to homemade pasta- and it is extremely affordable! During my visit to a farmers’ market last week, I purchased enough produce to last for the week and it cost me about 12 Euros. If I compare this to local supermarkets, it would have probably cost me 40< Euros!

In terms of agriculture, Italy is notorious for organic, chemical-free farming which has been a longstanding feature of Italy’s food production. More than 15% of Italy’s entire agricultural area is dedicated to organic production, in comparison with the EU’s 7.5% average. Statistics show that over the past 10 years, the use of plastic packaging has decreased by 40% in Italy and implemented recycled products such as cardboard (+70%).

Visiting vineyards and farming grounds throughout Italy, such as in the Tuscan region, will change your outlook on agricultural productions and farming for the better. If you are thinking of studying in Milan, make sure you pay a visit to the markets and farms!

Living in Milan

Alongside these wide-spread strategies, dotted around Milan and other places in Italy, you will also see street vendors selling beautiful flowers and home-grown produce. The lack of greenery in some areas in Milan is all forgotten when the streets are filled with tropical flowers! However, if you do want to see some greenery, take a visit to Sempione Park and enjoy stunning landscapes and water features.

Before arriving in Milan, I knew that Italy was a sustainable country, however I was sceptical about Milan itself as it is a large city. Overall, I have been pleasantly surprised by how many carbon-friendly strategies have been implemented to aid the environment. If you are thinking of studying abroad in Milan, or planning to visit, you will never be short of environmentally friendly past-times.

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