Sustainable living in Sweden

Maybe you have already heard (many times?) about how Sweden is the paradise for sustainability. The country commonly is at the top when it comes to sustainable practices and goals, and this was indeed one of the reasons why I decided to study here. Nevertheless, in my perception, our current global economic system is based on maintaining a lifestyle that could’t be more unsustainable: overconsumption is driving to the complete depletion of natural resources. In many aspects, while living in Sweden, I could really see its ambitions towards a more sustainable society, for example a lot of investments in developing new and green technologies, as well as better habits and incentives for societal transformation. Most of the waste produced here is recycled or used to produced energy. To do so, the system is extremely efficient and well stablished. When you live here it is way harder not to recicle then to recicle: everything is already in place for you to just follow the rules. In countries like mine it is the complete opposite, one really needs to go after of having a more sustainable living.

In Linköping you will separate all you trash: organic waste is put on this green bags.

Besides waste handling, other aspects of sustainable consumption can be diet choices and buying habits. Concerning diet, and more specifically meat consumption (once the production of meat is one of the main drivers of environmental damage), in Sweden you can find a no number of vegetarian/vegan options in the supermarket, it is really impressive all the substitutes they have made available here. Sweden is really trying in this way, I have been to many events where the only food options are vegetarian. Why not give people a hand in transitioning to less meat, right? Also, one thing I have noticed about eating vegetarian in Linköping for more than a year is that even if vegetables  are usually more expensive than in other countries, it is always cheaper than eating animal products. Always.

Some of the endless vegan options you will find here

 

 

 

 

On the other hand, I have found that buying habits in Sweden are maybe its biggest weakness. Here consumption in high, either clothes or furniture, swedes are amongst the biggest consumers in the world. However, at the same time, Sweden also has great options to escape this culture, such as buying second hand. Buying second hand is a big thing in this country, and I love it: it is more sustainable and you can find really great deals. I guess all societies have its contradictions and ways in which it could do better. Nevertheless, in Sweden sustainable living is really at the center of many discussions and you will find more opportunities than never to engage and experience it.

 

Images: google images.

Fika, more than a word, a culture

Fika is one of those things I have no idea how I managed to live most of my life without. if you have never been in Sweden and/or haven’t looked up anything about the country you probably also still live in the darkness of a world fikaless (I have just made this up). But truly, in Sweden fika is almost a entity and I bet it will be one of the first things you will go through once here. When I arrived in Linköping, someone spoke about the importance of fika and I didn’t quite understood, <<what is this fuzz everyone keeps talking about?>> I didn’t think it was that much big of a deal. Little I knew.

      

       

Straightforwardly, a simple definition of fika can be “a time in the day to stop what you are doing and have a conversation over some coffee and a sweet food”. But this is too simple. In my country we have this traditional break in the afternoon for coffee and bread, but it’s not the same. The point is that fika is a culture in itself, it’s a feeling, a concept, a state of mind, and maybe one will only fully understand it once experience it. What I like the most about fika is how it is a respected ritual, meaning everyone understands its importance and really engage in it, being kind of a moment which everyone is allowed (and even demanded) to enjoy. It is a break without excuses. A pause in everything you are doing, just to enjoy the simple and good things in life: people, food and, of course, coffee.

So if you are in Sweden, you will have fika. All. The. Time.

Usually it envolves the traditional cinnamon bun, but really it doesn’t matter much what is the food, fika is about time. Giving time to layback and enjoy the present moment. I feel like nothing matters when it’s time for fika, just to be there.

Excited for fika already? You should.

Eating out (of your country)

One of the first things you will have to do in Linköping is to go to the supermarket, after all one needs to eat. Shopping food in another country for the first time can be challenging but also very interesting. At the beginning it seems everything is different and you can’t recognize not even a package of bread. Finding that one food you love to eat back home can a treasure hunt.

Particularly, I love to go to the supermarket and I found it even more fun here in Sweden. After a while you start to recognize everything and understand your likes and dislikes among your new options. You even learn some new words while trying to find your favorite things. It is also a nice experience to try different foods and learn about another culture through the mouth.

Sweden it is not the cheapest country, but you can always make your way and find good deals. Almost every supermarket has weekly products on discounts and the prices can be up to 70% lower for those. Also, in Linköping you have different options to have your groceries, ranging in price and variety of food and including items from other countries. The tip is to keep a trained eye and be open to different flavors.