Sunday, September 14, 2008

Malmö, Sweden Goes Green

Lately Malmö has been in the news for bombings, gang fights, shootings. Happy things really. But just the other day an article came out praising Malmö for its commitment to being green. As in environmentally friendly.

According to the article, 5 Amazing Green Cities, from How Stuff Works, “Model cities are ranked by a combination of criteria. These include urban planning and environmental statistics. They encompass energy sources, consumption and emissions, as well as transportation options and ­habits.” So it takes a lot to be considered a model green city. Of the five listed, one is Swedish, one is Danish, one is Icelandic, one is American, and one is Canadian. That in and of itself is kind of interesting because you have three Nordic countries, and then Portland and Vancouver are both in the Pacific northwest of North America. Seems very much like there is some sort of geographic thing going on.

Sweden in general is considered pretty green. You recycle everything. Some cities have multiple trash cans so you can sort everything properly. Källsortering. It’s kind of a pain at first but you get used to it. And then you go back to the US and ask silly questions like “where does the soft plastic go?” or you flatten all cardboard boxes and try to find out where they can be recycled. In other words, it becomes very much a part of your everyday interaction with trash.

Now, with that mindset you would imagine someplace that isn’t beset by gang violence would be the greener city. Like Stockholm for example. Apparently, you would be wrong.

Malmö takes the cake, for the most part because of its use of sustainable energy. The article also mentions that the city is “pedestrian and cycle friendly.” But so is the entire country so that doesn’t really impress me that much. What did impress me was that an entire neighborhood (a former shipyard) in the city run on solar, hydro, and wind energy. Considering the rise in oil prices and the discussion in the US about oil independence and regardless of your stance on global warming, it’s kind of cool to see that renewable energy can be used successfully in larger areas.

Sweden does good work when it comes to this sort of thing. I would be interested though to know how much it costs to make an entire neighborhood run on renewable energy.

But if you’re looking for green places to live, look no further than Sweden and the rest of the Nordic countries. Or the Pacific Northwest if you want to stay over on that side of the Atlantic.

Welcome to Sweden.

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  1. We've been "källsorterat" in over 10 years in my home. Your post came across as if that the multiple trash can thing is rare in the States. That's weird. It seems as such a basic thing when it comes to trash management, to be careful with where you sort your trash. Just had to say how surprised I got while reading this post.

  2. well I can only speak for where I lived in Oregon and Colorado but the actual sorting of everything into various trash cans is rare there. That being said, we do have large recycling bins but we just toss everything into those. The thing is though, in Colorado where I lived at least, cardboard wasnt recycled.

    It is a bit different. Here though, it seems that everything is really sorted. Its just a bit different really.

  3. to most outside of the us, the recycling rate of americans is scary. and to many americans, it's also scary. our inability to perceive our actions with respect to the environment is also shown here:

    go sweden - show us how to be green! if you could switch easily from your american ways, then we all can.

  4. I really appreciate you writing this blog-it has provided some useful insight into living in Sweden. My family and I are seriously considering moving to Sweden-we have been researching this for almost a year, but really have found little info helping us pursue this. We have tried to contact the Embassy here in MN, but we were basically told it was next to impossible to immigrate to Sweden. Wondering if you would be willing to offer any advice and insight into how we go about doing this. Let me know the easiest way to contact/communicate with you.

  5. @slurb - its true its pretty easy to get used to. but I must say, aside from not recycling cardboard in colorado, where I lived in Oregon and Colorado did good work with recycling. And we just threw everything into a big bin and then it was sorted for us. So some places in the US have it figured out. But as a whole Sweden wins this one going away I think.

    @michelle - glad youve been enjoying the blog. and feel free to email me at aswedishamericaninsweden at gmail dot com.

    that being said, without any sort of familial ties to sweden or some sort of refugee status it is pretty tough to immigrate here.

    check out migrationsverket ( that is the swedish immigration website for information. the best bet is to get a job or study visa before getting here. that makes it easier. student visas are pretty easy to get but Im not sure how they work if you want to bring the whole family. jobs are harder to get but make it easier to bring the whole family.

    send me an email and Ill see what else I can answer.

  6. Gang fights in Malmö? All I can picture are scenes from Grease, except with more scarfs.

    Very green city though, not sure how Vancouver is on there over say Stockholm though.

  7. well, its kind of motorcycle gangs wo are fighting down in that area. The Skåne region and a lot in Göteborg.

  8. A regional thing, indeed. Wee. :o)