Sunday, October 11, 2009

Update from Sweden

Hi dear 3E-COE members and friends! I arrived two weeks ago in Uppsala, Sweden, where I'll be living for the next two years and finishing my studies long-distance. I'm sorry that I had to leave at the moment when the anti-disposable water bottle campaign has been heating up, but I'm thrilled to hear about all of the exciting developments and progress you've been making there!

Some of you may know of Sweden's record of being very progressive on the environmental concern/protection front. Well, reading about these developments from afar was great, but seeing many of them in action is even cooler. For example, in our apartment complex, we have recycling bins for plastics, metals, cardboard (paper must be brought to one of four municipal facilities), compost (yay!!), and trash, of course.

While all of these options are exciting, what blows me away the most is what happens to the trash. According to an excellent report of the city's developments, seventy percent of household waste gets converted into fuel for 50 city buses. Seventy percent!! The report also states that the facility that converts waste to fuel is being expanded so that 100% of the city's household trash can be used as fuel for public transit. Amazing, huh?

Something else that's quite exciting is how many people ride their bikes here and how the city accommodates/encourages cycling. For example, there are bike paths, many streets have dedicated bike lanes, and in some cases there are separate traffic signals for bicycles. Further, part of Uppsala's "Stop the Unnecessary 2.0" campaign includes encouraging individuals to bike to work. Other parts of that campaign include having e-meetings, keeping an eye on how much we print, turning off lights, etc.

If you have the time and interest, there are several pages in the report that focus on environmental efforts that the city is taking to make life in Uppsala more sustainable. It's mind blowing and very inspiring...seeing all of these efforts here reminds me of how much hope there is of similar amazing things happening in the U.S. In State College, we already have the awesome bike paths...

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