Exchange student: Confused and hiding rubbish

- in Column, Nyheter

When I first arrived in my corridor room in Lund in September, I couldn’t find the bin. An English friend had warned me that the kitchen plugs weren’t ‘normal’. She was having to take the kettle to her room to make a cup of tea. I was prepared for the timers on the plugs, but I couldn’t for the life of me find the bin!

Though trying my best to avoid them, I was overloaded with plastic bottles and bags from my journey, and without any means to dispose of them, I hastily hid them in my kitchen cupboard. They are still there to this day (I have now figured out where they go, I’m just lazy).

It took me a week and a half to find the recycling cupboard, and over four months to really understand it. Separating light glass and dark glass, not crushing the pant and being able to recycle all forms of soft plastic is all quite new for me, and I grew up in London with a pretty large environmental conscience.

When I asked people about the mysterious recycling cupboard, they laughed at me which is fair enough. This is a system that Swedes have been absorbed into seamlessly – as an exchange student, it has taken some getting used to!

Swedes are so accustomed to this way of life, that I reckon it goes unnoticed.

Swedes are so accustomed to this way of life, that I reckon it goes unnoticed, as we all mundanely give hours of our time to sorting trash.

It has been much easier, since arriving in Sweden, to keep up a plastic free eco-friendly lifestyle. It’s very nice to be in a country where the municipality are trying to help, not hinder, your environmental efforts. With Greta Thunberg sitting outside the Swedish parliament week in, week out for her skolstrejk for klimatet, it is clear to me that Sweden has its head screwed on. Extinction Rebellion powers through, whilst plastic free stores such as GRAM in Malmö are increasingly popular. But here I am, an exchange student, confused because I can’t find anywhere to throw away the plastic packaging to my new IKEA bedding (they too are taking steps to reduce waste, with their new mushroom based packaging. Look it up!).

So how to be environmentally conscious in Sweden as an exchange student? Do nothing but what the Swedes do– follow their every step (which they don’t even notice they are taking) towards those 3 million different recycling boxes, and get used to it. You’ll be doing it a lot!