Just a few days ago Stockholm was ranked the most livable city in the world by Reader’s Digest. WOOOOO!!!! That’s where I live. It’s like I was drawn to this environmental oasis by some sort of invisible force, like a moth to light. Or I just needed a change.
Either way, Stockholm was ranked on environmental criteria and finished first followed closely by another Scandinavian city, Oslo. Luckily, the Norwegians had no chance. Probably because of all that oil they are pulling out of the ocean off their west coast. Stockholm pulled in this amazing prize based on their greenness. That’s hippy for being good for the environment.
Stockholm is pretty impressive though. One third of the city is water, one third of the city is parkland, and the other third is actual city. I was in London a little over a month ago and was amazed at the lack of trees and plant life in the city. In comparison Stockholm looked like the Amazon, lush with flora. The city is built on a number of different islands, so I suppose it is in the Swedes best interest to keep the environment in mind seeing as how a rise in the water levels could do some serious damage. They keep up their end of the bargain though and it is well worth it as you walk through the city and come across water almost everywhere you go.
Swedes are very conscious of the environment in everything they do. All household trash is separated in order to recycle and reuse as much as possible. I mean everything is separated, cardboard, soft plastic, hard plastic, batteries, metal, colored glass, clear glass, everything. Swedes are extremely keen on recycling bottles and cans. I have even found myself picking up other bottles and cans to recycle. This might have more to do with my being unemployed and the money that bottles can give you (4 SEK for the hard plastic Coke bottles!), but that’s a different story.
When you go grocery shopping in Sweden you have to either bring your own shopping bags or buy them at the store. That’s right, buy them. Granted, they tend to only be about 1 or 1.5 SEK but still. That adds up over the course of a year. Just another way the Swedes, “suggest” you reuse things. Very sneaky those Swedes. It works though. Everyone brings reusable canvas bags or brings their old paper and plastic bags from previous shopping trips. IKEA has done good work in this regard; they offer a blue bag that every Swede owns. I think it is standard issue once you receive your passport. Like a sort of signing bonus. Even in the US, IKEA has started pushing this idea, charging people for bags in the hopes that they will bring their own. No word yet on if it is working but we’ll see if IKEA has that sort of power over American society yet or if it is still a ways away.
So I haven’t really lived here long enough to know how green Stockholm really is. Having never really lived in a big city before I can’t even compare Stockholm to a large American city. I’ve been kind of spoiled and always lived in very outdoorsy places so I’ve been close to valleys, lakes, rivers, even mountains so I’m a tough critic. I do know though that Stockholm is a beautiful city, an extremely clean city, and is surrounded by crystal clear water, various shades of green, and enough parks to make Yellowstone jealous. I think I made the right decision.