Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sweden's Conservation Efforts

(from left to right) Clear glass, Colored glass, Paper, Garbage

One of the biggest impressions Scandinavia made on me during my trip is their conservation efforts. Both Copenhagen and Stockholm are extremely aggressive in recycling, reducing waste, and promoting bicycling as a mainstream transportation. In the Bay Area, we are more progress than most of the country, but I am embarrassed seeing what they are doing here. All of their "garbage" cans are categorized. In most of supermarkets, you either bring your own bags or you pay for the bags. I remember seeing that proposal in not too long ago, and many people were angry at the idea of having to pay for shopping bags. Their public transit system is rapid, on time, and extremely reliable. I took public transit everywhere during my two weeks here. Outside of many train stations, self serve bicycle rentals are available. Bicyclists have their own wide lanes and traffic signals with little concern of colliding with cars. Needless to say, I see very few obsess or overweight people here.

Air and Water quality indicators

Right next to the waterfront of Copenhagen, there are these two indicators (above photo) showing Air and Water quality. They also explain what the government is doing to clean the water and air and the importance of doing so. At many supermarkets, I see self serve recycling stations. People just bring their plastic and glass bottles to feed into the machine and get cash for recycling them. They don't need to make an extra trip to some recycling facility.

Plastic and glass recycling station right inside of a large super market. It pays to recycle.

As I walked  by their Culture Festival, I noticed another banner, "Good Planets Are Hard to Find. Don't Blow It." That shall be a constant reminder to all of us. Conservation efforts aren't something we should wait for our government to take actions. It starts with individuals like you and me. For the last few years, I have felt like an oddity at times for growing my own food, composting, recycling, and hardly ever driving my car. After seeing what they are doing here, I don't feel so odd anymore.

"Good Planets are hard to find. Don't blow it."

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