Alumni Spotlight: Semester in Ecuador – Green Initiatives
Kate Ross, 2015 graduate of the University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, majored in Dietetics with a Spanish minor. In 2014 she received the CISabroad Green Scholarship which she used toward her Semester in Ecuador program. We recently caught up with Kate to learn about the green initiatives she documented while living and studying in Quito, Ecuador.
The main inn, lobby, and dining area of The Black Sheep Inn
What eco-living and green ideas did you see while studying in Ecuador?
In regards to “going green,” I definitely think Ecuador is more “green.” In my host home we had a compost in which we threw out all biodegradable food waste. To my surprise, we did not have a disposal and so it was easier to remember to use the compost. In comparison to my home in the U.S., we just throw food waste down the disposal or in the trash. Along with the habit of consolidating food waste, I also got into the habit of recycling.
Posada Oveja Negra
What green activities did you witness while living with a host family?
In Ecuador it was very common for people (my host family, friends, etc.) to recycle their glass and plastic. My host mom would also reuse any salvageable glass or plastic container. Not only did families recycle, but the college students would too because many times recycling is driven by incentive for money back. For example, when you brought back your beer bottles “cervezas,” you saved a quarter (Ecuador uses U.S. currency). When a beer only cost $1.25 or $1.50, saving $0.25 definitely works in the consumer’s advantage. I think this is very important if the U.S. wants a recycling campaign to be successful. While most people do recycle because it’s good for the earth and our future, I believe money motivates almost every human on this earth. If people are able to directly save money while recycling, I believe more people would catch on.
Beautiful recycled wine bottles decorated the shower!
What was the best “green” and eye opening experience you had while living in Ecuador?
I had the privilege of staying at what I (and many others) call the best hostel in Ecuador. The Black Sheep Inn (La Oveja Negra) has two special qualities about it. It is completely “green” and also vegetarian. Every detail was carefully considered in order to maximize ways to recycle, reduce, and reuse.
To me the most interesting part about the inn were the bathroom. Instead of using water to flush waste, the bottom of each toilet was filled with cedar wood shavings. This made for a type of porter potty that decomposed on its own, while the scent of cedar covered the stench of any unwanted smells. I thought surely this wouldn’t work, but we were very pleased with this invention!
What’s next now that you’ve graduated? I will be starting a Dietetic Internship, a required clinical rotation, at the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences.
Any travel tips? 1.Expect the unexpected; 2. Just say “yes”; 3. Bring plenty of Pepto-bismol!
What did you learn about the world when you studied or lived abroad? What new ways of living have you incorporated now that you are back home?
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