Environment: Life in the City of Milan

What makes this environment special or different?

The environment of Milan, Italy is different because it is urban.  Urban is another way to describe a city area.  There are not many wild animals here because there are no wide-open spaces of natural land.  Many of the natural habitats that were here hundreds and even thousands of years ago were torn down and flattened to build the flat city that Milan is today.  Milan is pretty much all concrete, glass and brick, from the streets to the buildings.  There are not many forest areas or hills of grassy land in the city. Like many other well-known cities like Los Angeles, my hometown, or New York City, everything is built very close together and buildings are built high.  Things are built in this manner because there are about 1.35 million people living in Milan!

Most of the population lives in apartment buildings.  Apartment buildings can be built very high and house many families on one floor.  In Milan, I live on the 4th floor of an apartment building.  There are seven floors in the apartment building I live in while others have as many as 20 floors!  There are two families on each floor of my building, and each family has between two and five people.

One thing interesting about Italy is its varying of climate.  Southern Italy is close to the Mediterranean Sea.  Since Southern Italy is closer to the equator, it has a warmer climate than Northern Italy, where Milan is located.  Therefore, Milan has a colder climate.  It rains and snows more often here than in the southern areas of Italy.  Since it rains and snows more frequently, the farming season is shorter.  This is why fresh crops are more abundant in the southern regions of Italy.

What parts of this environment help people to live here?

 If Milan was hilly, it would be hard for people and machines to get around.  It would also be harder to build buildings, which a city is mainly composed of because architects would have a harder time building tall structures on a non-flat area of land.

Because Milan is an urban area and not countryside, there are not many areas to harvest fresh crops to eat and feed a family with.  Milan supports its inhabitants with food via grocery stores.  However, there are many farmers’ markets in the city.  Farmer’s markets are where people can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and other types of natural foods like fish, beef, chicken, eggs, cheese and nuts which were grown and harvested on farms.  This is where the name “farmers’ market” comes from.  Farmers’ markets are literally markets in which farmers sell their goods.

Farmers’ markets are popular in Milan because Milan’s citizens would like to eat healthily.  Many families cook big meals with fresh ingredients every night for dinner.  I can speak from experience because my homestay family cooks dinner at home with fresh ingredients at least five times out of the seven days of the week.

Due to the close proximity to other houses, you will rarely find large gardens and yards on the properties of residential areas here in Milan.  There certainly is not enough room in the city of Milan to harvest a large amount of vegetables and fruits or have livestock like chicken, cows, and goats like farmers in other areas of Italy can.

Dishes characteristic of Milan are typically rice, soup and meat dishes whereas dishes in the south of Italy usually contain a lot of fish and vegetables. Milan’s famous dish is cottolettaCottoletta is fried, boneless meat.  This was one of the first dishes I ate here in Milan.

What challenges do people face living in this environment? 

Because Milan is a big city with a lot of cars and a lot of people, many goods need to be produced to keep the city progressing and its people alive.  Thus, there are many factories in Milan, Italy that pollute the air with carbon.  People face the challenge of polluted air called smog.  Smog comes from this carbon used by machines like cars, buses and other mechanical structures in order to function.  Smog can be harmful to the lungs if it is in the air.

How have people been adapting to this environment?

People have been adapting to this environment by having smaller cars.  The cars here in Milan, Italy are much smaller on average than the cars in the United States.  These cars use less gas and are thus better for the environment.  Because they use less gas, they are also cheaper to have and maintain.

Some people, instead of driving, use public transportation.  Public transportation allows people to save money on gas and get to work without harming the environment as much as they would have been doing if they drove.  Public transportation such as buses, trams, and metros transport many people.  I take transportation here in Milan to get around the city, to and from work and to my classes in the morning and afternoons.  I even have considered taking public transportation more often when I return to the United States because it is very easy to navigate.

People have also been adapting to this environment by recycling.  Recycling is a way of reducing consumption of goods and products.  If there is an increase in recycling there will be a reduction in production.  This means that factories will not have to make as much to produce goods because the demand for the goods will not be as much.  This is a positive thing because factories where goods are produced typically emit the most pollution into the air.

Italians separate their trash in bins that are specified for paper, plastic and regular waste that cannot be recycled.  This is a very serious issue.  It is so serious in Milan, that if this routine of disposing your wastes properly is disobeyed, the police who regulate this can fine all who are disobedient.

Paper bins are usually colored blue, bins for plastic are typically yellow or green and regular waste is usually put in white or gray trash bins.  This at first was very confusing for me since I usually just throw my trash away in any trash can at home in the United States.  At home in the United States, I also do not recycle as much.  Here in Milan, Italy I have learned that I need to be more mindful in my wastes and what I consume.  It is always important respect the laws of whatever city, town or country you are in.  The best way to learn the law is simply by asking local citizens and always ask if you are confused or unsure of something.



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