A late night of Northern Lights chasing resulted in a dazed early morning, but today was filled with hours of opportunities to learn about our final two cultural story topics and speak with local experts. Many of our interviews began around 10am and with our bodies still adjusting to the time difference, free hotel breakfast coffee was this morning’s life-saver.
My set of interviews took me on an adventure through Reykjavík’s different sectors on wheels, riding in one taxi to the offices of Orkustofnun, the National Energy Authority of Iceland and the home of the United Nations University Geothermal Training Programme, and another to the University of Iceland. In between, I had the opportunity to visit Góði Hirðirinn, which translates to Good Shepherd. The store is run by SORPA, the waste and recycling facility that works in partnership with Iceland’s municipalities. This is a used household goods store and, despite opening just at 12:00pm, the space was packed with local Icelanders just five minutes after the doors opened. The store was stocked with a variety of used items, from books and vases to couches and vacuums. Each item was priced relatively affordably, with many of the objects valued underneath 1000 Kronas.
These five separate interviews were spread throughout the day, allowing me to speak with a total of seven different experts on the topic of environmental sustainability. Four of these individuals spoke about Iceland’s waste management efforts, recycling initiatives and conscious consumption in order to shed light on the worldwide importance of managing waste through sustainable means. The other three interviewees were experts in the field of Iceland’s geothermal energy and climate. With the City of Reykjavík’s recent announcement to go carbon neutral by 2040, these individuals offered their time to speak about the importance and challenges that come with implementing alternative means of energy, Iceland’s initiatives to help other countries become more energy sustainable and the role of these methods in reducing the impact of climate change.
Hugi Ólafsson is the Director General of the Department of Oceans, Water and Climate at the Icelandic Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources. Regarding the topic of climate change and the implementation of climate-friendly policies and goals, he spoke on the importance of viewing a more sustainable lifestyle as a positive window of opportunity rather than an inconvenience.
The night closed with a group dinner of Icelandic-Spanish fusion cuisine at Tapas Barinn, where we had a seven-course meal complete with Icelandic specialities: lamb, puffin, whale and lobster. If you’re wondering what puffin tastes like, just imagine a sushi texture, a meaty flavor, and lots of salt. But whatever you do, don’t imagine a cute puffin perched along the Icelandic coast while you’re eating. The ultimate treat for my taste buds was, of course, the dessert: white chocolate “Skýr” mousse with passion coulis. If blogs could provide tasting samples, I would.
Tomorrow, our festival experiences at Iceland Airwaves begin. Stay tuned for band reviews, photographs and more adventure tales!