When most people think of Seattle, they think of gloomy skies and coffee. While this is mostly true, there are other important characteristics that define this city in the PNW. One of the first things I noticed was Seattle’s commitment to the environment. In January, a controversial law passed that now requires food to be thrown in a compost bin as opposed to the trash. If you don’t, you can be fined. Their recycling rates are upwards of 50% at this point, with hopes of it reaching 60% by the end of the year. Most of the straws in Seattle are compostable, and every cafe has waste, recycling, and composting bins. I would also say that the portion of people that are gluten free, vegan, or only eat organic is much higher here. While I mostly hear about these environmental practices in regard to California, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about Seattle’s efforts.
The next biggest way Seattle is different than Ann Arbor is the weather. Even though winters are gloomy in both cities, Seattle doesn’t have snow. This blew my mind! How could a city so far north not have snow? (Ans: the Pacific Ocean keeps temperatures warm). While I was working shifts at the retail store, I asked the manager if we should put the rain boots on sale now that spring is over. She then explained how their rainy season was just getting started! It hasn’t rained that much since I’ve been here, but when it does rain you’re not even supposed to use an umbrella. This was another custom I had to get used to. It rains so frequently and so lightly, that people get tired of carrying an umbrella and voluntarily get wet. In my last week, Seattle has had the worst air pollution since 1999. The air is so bad it is the equivalent of smoking 7 cigarettes, according to Vox [https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/8/21/17761908/seattle-air-quality-haze-smoke-wildfire-health]. This is all due to wildfires, and because there are so many particles in the air, the sun glows a reddish color. It’s a little freaky. But Seattle is also unique and known for its diverse sights. If you visit their downtown, you can see Lake Washington, Mount Rainier, and a city skyline. Few other cities can say this! As made famous in Twin Peaks, there are also the Douglas Firs that are worth mentioning. They’re everywhere! And they make the bustling city a little greener. I would also highly recommend watching Twin Peaks, as its a cult classic here. (The show was filmed only 30 minutes away.) Seattle has been interesting, but Ann Arbor will always be my hoMe. I’m excited to get back this weekend!