Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sweden Hates Convenience

I have never seen a garbage disposal in Sweden. Ever. They have to exist somewhere. I’m absolutely convinced of it. I can’t imagine Americans being the only ones who appreciate the convenience of just throwing all of your food down a drain then chopping it all up with the push of a button. Or maybe it is just an appliance for the upper class. Or the lazy. Which could really span a wide swath of consumers if you think about it.

Garbage disposals tend to spoil a person. I didn’t have one in college either. It’s awful. Food sits in the trash and grows. Food is supposed to stop growing once it is my kitchen. But without a garbage disposal it doesn’t. It lives on. It stinks. It molds. It’s just really gross. With the growth comes all kinds of weird bugs. Fruit flys for example. Where do they come from? How do they appear on the 12th story of an apartment building just a couple of days after I throw an apple core into the trash?

I blame the whole Swedish garbage culture. They make you sort out everything. Paper, cardboard, clear glass, colored glass, metal, batteries, food. They are relentless. And when you have to sort out everything it’s not good to be able to just throw it down the drain. My apartment building tells me (that’s right, it’s big, purple and orange, and it tells me stuff) that sorting out all of this food actually provides electricity. Maybe. But is it worth it? I don’t like stinky food in a small apartment.

These are the sorts of things that people should tell you before moving somewhere. Are garbage disposals standard? Yes or no, it could be a deal breaker to some people. So if you’re planning on making the move to Sweden, beware. Garbage disposals in Sweden are as rare as me dressing up as a mountain yeti for Halloween. Which has only happened once. Keep that in mind. And Welcome to Sweden.

48 comments:

  1. Garbage disposals are illegal in your new country.

    Welcome to Sweden!

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  2. Yes, it's a secret stuff here. The new apartment I'm about to move has carbage carrying included in rent, but I still haven't found any place where to put them. No small holes in walls either.

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  3. What do you mean no small holes in walls, smek this? ever heard of window before? LOL.

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  4. what Smek means is that a lot of apartment beuildings here in sweden have holes in the walls out in the hallways where u throw your trash out. Then it makes its way all the way to the basement to the trash by force of gravity..basically it just falls there.

    You know what? i agree with you..where are the garbage disposals at???????

    I have many discussions with my husband about the strange ways of life here because, well they are just strange...but i am sure they think we amaericans are just as bad. i always get asked why i came here when the USA is better.

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  5. dont ask why i cat spell...its 6am

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  6. Mogli, that's the medieval way to handle carbage. Although it may be in use in Gamla stan. Actually those narrow roads there are not roads, they are sewer canals which lead to the sea! That's why the locals use umbrellas while walking there. Don't put this to Wiki :)

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  7. Oh, of course I was not being serious about the window! (me and Smek have this "alternative" (not weird) sense of humour so excuse me). I agree mrs. cecrux that there are indeed lots of things in Sweden that seems weird to a foreigner. I've been living in this country for five years now, and I can say that I still haven't got the hang of a lot of Swedish ways.

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  8. oh god i am an idiot Mogli.. when i read what u said about the windows. i didnt read that YOU posted it.. for some dumb reason i assumed it was the owner of this blog.lol

    anywho...i just discussed the garbage disposal with my swedish husband he says maybe you will get hurt...and my reply is i could get hurt using the coffee machine by burning my hand on the hot plate..yet they still have them..Like im gunna stick my hand down the drain with a disposal in there!

    Living here sometimes is like walking on a glass plate thats paper thin..you must be so careful because god forbid something terrible happens..sheesh! grow up in america once! back in the 70's when i grew up you rode a bike full speed without a helmet..im still living.obviously.

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  9. ehh Mogli..ur are also in Göteborg???

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  10. Yes, Smek and Moge were only kidding here. Sorry, Hair, if it offended you. Seems our nick names have also nick names :)

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  11. They're bad for the enivornment those garbage disposal things, but if it helps I can tell you the sex of the fruit flies (the one thing I learnt from my science degree)

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  12. hmmm... garbage disposals elicit all kinds of reactions.

    fruit flies should love sweden. at least then they have plenty of old food since there are no garbage disposals. and then ella can find out the sex of them. clealy sweden is the place for ella.

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  13. I live in Sweden and have grabage disposal! Guess, I'm one of those lucky few! hehe

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  14. Why would you need a garbage disposal when you have a hole in the wall in the stairs that you can just conveniently throw your garbage? Garbage disposal is bad for the environment and can get locked up if you put too much garbage in it....

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  15. strangely enough I imagine that your argument that "garbage disposal is bad for the environment and can get locked up if you put too much garbage in it" can also be applied to that hole in the wall where you throw your garbage. Can't imagine some of the stuff people throw down there is good for the environment and if you put too much in it gets plugged up...

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  16. Just to clarify, no the hole in the wall doesn't get plugged up. Maybe if you throw like, a ton of garbage in one day... I'm not saying the "hole in the wall" is completely environmental-friendly but it's definetly more environmental-friendly than a garbage disposal. The most environmental-friendly solution is the tiny little "houses" that can be found below many apartment buildings where you can sort all the garbage and blah blah... Usually I wouldn't bother making a discussion out of such a boring and minor issue but God, I'm bored right now...

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  17. Well, hopefully this blog can bring some enjoyment to your day. Even if it does lead to a discussion about garbage.

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  18. No, we don't hate the convienience but we love the envirement! Figure that one out

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  19. I can't figure it out. I'm American.

    And I feel confident that there other ways of helping the environment that would have a bigger impact than not using a garbage disposal.

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  20. Oh I just have to make a little comment here.. I am born and raised in Sweden, and so far I have never, ever seen a garbage disposal. I don't know what it is, what it looks like. I can somewhat imagine the functionality, but until now I never realised that you would need one! ^^

    Thank's for an interesting blog!

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  21. oh its a wonderful technology... but you're right. they are rare in sweden. like a unicorn.

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  22. I'm an American of Swedish and Swedish-Finnish grandparents who lives in San Francisco.

    I don't have a garbage disposer in my kitchen sink and I don't have a garbage chute (the hole in the wall) in my apartment building, but I also don't wait 12 days to take my garbage out from my small apartment, either.

    San Franciscans are weird Americans because we separate our garbage so that it can be recycled, and we have composting. The city garbage service picks up food scraps we put into separate garbage bins to be composted.

    That way, hopefully the only thing we put into the ground is compost, rather than finding more places to put giant holes in the ground to fill with our (unsorted) garbage.

    Of course the other option is to use the Grand Canyon. We already take all of the water out of it before the Mexican border, so we may as well fill it back up with something. Oh, that's right, Bush isn't President anymore, never mind.

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  23. The two cities that I spent most of my time living in in the US were similar. We separated out all kinds of recycling. And my family has a compost family. So I struggle sometimes to identify with the whole wasteful American idea when it comes to garbage.

    And the Bush thing, really? We're still doing that?

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  24. It's not a matter of convenience or personal advantadge. it just can't be.
    thinking that avoiding garbage sorting might be a preferable choice just because it's quicker and avoids undesired scents is kind of...selfish.
    consider that you could use smaller bags to collect left overs, so that they would fill up faster than bigger bags, obliging you to get rid of them more frequently, avoiding the stink.
    I assume you get out of your apartment at least once a day, so taking the food bag with you shouldn't be an unbearable effort.
    moreover, it's unbelievable (sort of) that you can't just see the benefits of garbage sorting.

    moulds and fruit flys don't misteriously self-generate: Lazzaro Spallanzani tried to prove this theory, but he was refuted by Pasteur (I might be wrong), who proved that under certain conditions it was impossible for fruit flys etc. to appear...

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  25. The thing is though, I am a selfish person. I don’t want to have to take the trash out at least once a day. I don’t want to have to use smaller bags. I like using the bags I have. They fit a lot and I already get them from the grocery store.

    I see the benefits of garbage sorting. I just don’t see that it is worth my time always. Cost benefit analysis if you will. And I have decided my time is more important than pulling an apple core out. I’ll pull recyclables out, cardboard, cans, all thatgood stuff. But I’m not ging to sort my hushållsavfall.

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  26. have you ever spent hours (let's say in a week) waiting for a bus of an inefficent public transportation company?
    have you ever queued for hours in front of an office where ten guys are supposed to help you but just two of them are actually available?
    have you ever wasted your time because of other's inefficience, lazyness, ecc.?
    that's a waste of time!

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  27. I sure have (SL)
    I sure have (Arlanda and SEB)
    I sure have (my previous job in Uppsala)

    they are all a waste of time. Which is exactly why I want a garbage disposal. Gotta save my time whenever I can.

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  28. The problem is the dimension of our sewage system. They can't deal with all the waste that would have to go through them. The sewage plants are also seldom able to take care of this kind of waste. But! In some areas it's ok to use a garbage disposal, this is mainly in areas with new pipes and plants. When it comes to recycling a garbage disposal is much better since the waste get less kontaminated and can be used to produce bio fuels like gas to heat our houses or fill up our cars.

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  29. well I want my tax crowns going to a new sewage system then.

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  30. Well, they aren't payed for by taxes. The are payed for by user fees. If you live in an apartment it will be included in your rent.

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  31. clearly my apartment needs better sewage then.

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  32. I'm an american who has a home in Sweden. I read that Stockholm is now encouraging GD's so I don't think they are so bad for the environment. I know they sell them there because I've seen them for sell in decorating mags. a long time ago. If anyone knows where to get one please tell me because they make life a little more easier.

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  33. thats what I like to hear! garbage disposals for everyone!

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  34. I'm american, and have three seperate containers: recycling (for paper, glass and cans that can be taken to the recycling plant and be re-used), compost (for anything that is biodegradable yet can't be recycled, such as food, napkins, coffe grounds, etc.), and garbage (what doesn't fit into those catagories. You can go to a special place to get rid of batteries. I think it's cool how you have so many ways that you can get rid of things - more recycling!!! - but i also agree that agarbage disposal is nice... as long as it goes to the compost!

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  35. I am constantly impressed byt he recycling systems here, that being said, I love garbage disposals. I just cant deny it.

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  36. How much do you suppose most people would pay for a g.d? I saw an ad one for 4000sek in a mag recently. Then there's the installation. I would guess that most would rather spend that on something different.

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  37. hmm... well I wouldnt be willing to spend 4000 SEK on a garbage disposal. of course I suppose Im stuck on the US prices, where I think you can get one for about 100 dollars.

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  38. Disposals have never been illegal here, but there used to be an annual fee to have one so they weren't very popular.
    Miljöpartiet argued for a removal of the fee for years, and finally they succeeded in Stockholm. I guess the 'bad for the environment' argument is moot if the environment nuts is for it. :)

    Typing 'avfallskvarn' into google reveals a wide range of products, of which the cheapest seems to be about 2500:- including freight.

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  39. oh wow... miljöpartiet making a push for the garbage disposal. thats impressive work. almost enough to make me want to vote for them. not quite but almost.

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  40. That way, hopefully the only thing we put into the ground is compost, rather than finding more places to put giant holes in the ground to fill with our (unsorted) garbage. Trash Disposal

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  41. swedens already managed to come quite a way when it comes to that.

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  42. Mrs CeCrux said...

    Living here sometimes is like walking on a glass plate thats paper thin..you must be so careful because god forbid something terrible happens..sheesh! grow up in america once! back in the 70's when i grew up you rode a bike full speed without a helmet..im still living.obviously.

    well, i rode on a bike like mad too. in sweden. and so did every other kid here during the 70's. nothing fancy.

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  43. me too. but in the '80s and early '90s...

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  44. It's the same in South Africa. I never understood exactly what the people on TV or in movies were talking about when referring to garbage disposals. Here, however, things don't even really get recycled. There aren't enough 'provisions' for it. I'm new to this blog and have recently started reading every post you've written since the beginning, and only in this post now, so still have A LOT to go, lol. I'm enjoying it though. I visited Sweden a couple of years ago in Winter, for a month, and felt so at home. It's a far cry from SA, and I was so sad when I left Sweden and landed back onto SA soil. I felt so depressed being 'home'. I've been researching, and apparently my ancestors came from Sweden, so that explains a lot. I'm also now fascinated with the vikings, lol. Anyway, a lot of the complaints you write about concerning Sweden are either also something South Africa struggles with, or have it even worse. Actually, most of the things seem like such tiny little things compared with the crap this side of the worl, lol. I'm busy learning Swedish (my step uncle lives there) and have put my resumé on the Euros Portal. I'm not really expecting anything, and I don't have immediate plans to move (busy completing my studies first), but just taking a chance and putting it out there. Preparing if you will, lol. Great blog!

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    Replies
    1. Great to hear! Honestly, plenty of these complaints seem pretty ridiculous to me now also. But they were things I noticed. That bothered me. That confused me. Some of them still do. I was younger then. Or something like that.

      Fun that you're studying Swedish. In terms of your family roots, you may want to check out this forum: http://aforum.genealogi.se/discus/

      There are some great resources and incredibly helpful people there that may be able to help with your research for ancestors. Plus, it's free.

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