Week 3 – Daily Sustainability and a Trip to Switzerland

Bonjour mes amis! The third week of the semester is officially over, and it was the best I’ve had yet.

On Monday during our SLS classes, we discussed ways that we could become more sustainable in our daily lives or alternatives to things that we’re already doing. For example, one of the more commonly known solutions for reducing energy usage in lighting a room is to rely on natural light coming in through windows. Something new I learned, though, was that sending an email of 1 MB (with photos or attachments) produces the equivalent of 15 g of CO2. I had never even considered the energy usage that’s required of digital sources, and it makes me wonder how this energy requirement will shape the future of digital media.

On Wednesday, Jean-Jacque Gaumet (our composting friend and a professor of chemistry at the University of Lorraine) came to Georgia Tech-Lorraine and explained the life cycle of waste, illustrated how much of specific resources we use versus the natural stores of the resource, and gave us examples of how to live more sustainably (and where to find some good tips). Later in the day, he walked the group through a lesson in the kitchen, but he wasn’t cooking us food. Using Marseille soap chips, white vinegar and baking soda, he made us all a little jar of laundry detergent. The total cost turned out to be just over a euro for 18 loads of laundry, and the makeup of the laundry detergent is completely earth-friendly.


We joined Jean-Jacque again on Thursday evening to dump our compost and say hello. He’s attending a conference in China soon to discuss biomaterials, things made completely of biodegradable substances, essentially. I hope he comes back with a lot of pictures!

Speaking of pictures, too, I went outside Metz for the first time this semester to Interlaken, Switzerland, and I returned with at least 200 new photos in my gallery. Everything about this city was amazing: is was bustling with people, there were really good options for food and chocolate (of course), the hostel was picturesque and cool, honestly, and the hike that we took had incredible views over the two lakes (Lake Thun and Lake Brienz). I hiked with a partner, Lindsey Lovitt (a student studying abroad at GTL from Duke University), a total of 18.57mi in 10.5 hours. Some of you may consider this a slow pace (which is true), but we walked next to cliffs for a large chunk of the hike which warranted the slow pace. It was exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time. At the beginning of the hike, it was foggy and a little rainy; eventually we got to a point where we had passed the fog in elevation and got glimpses of the lake between the little wisps of fog. It wasn’t until our descent that the sky cleared up and we were able to look out upon the beautiful blue lake without interruption. It was one of the most beautiful 10.5 hours of my life. Places like this remind me why I’m so passionate about sustainability, smart cities, and green living. There is so much intrinsic value in our planet, and we must preserve it.

I hope you all had as good a week as I did and that you’re looking forward to future installments of my adventures here at GTL. Au revoir, mes amis!