“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” Chris Maser wrote these words in
Amazingly, one country is taking magnificent steps to rectify this imbalance.
Even more miraculous?
These steps are working. In Sweden, over half of all electricity is created from renewable sources. They have been heavily taxing fossil fuels for twenty-five years. They boast a recycling system so effective that less than one percent of household garbage ended up in a landfill last year.
As a result, Sweden has actually run out of garbage. They are having to import waste from neighboring countries in order to maintain their sophisticated recycling system.
How on earth does something like this happen?
It all starts with the values of the population. “Swedish people are quite keen on being out in nature and they are aware of what we need do on nature and environmental issues. We worked on communications for a long time to make people aware not to throw things outdoors so that we can recycle and reuse,” said Anna-Carin Gripwall, director of communications for Avfall Sverige, the Swedish Waste Management’s recycling association. You will not see Swedes littering or skipping the recycle bin, and the reason is simple. They value their environment. They make it a priority to maintain its beauty and health.
Sweden’s recycling system integrates public and private organizations in a cohesive way. Private companies do most of the importing and burning of waste. The energy then goes into a national heating network. “That’s a key reason that we have this district network, so we can make use of the heating from the waste plants. In the southern part of Europe they don’t make use of the heating from the waste, it just goes out the chimney. Here we use it as a substitute for fossil fuel,” explained Gripwell to The Independent.
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed,” observed Mahatma Gandhi. If we want to preserve our world for future generations, we need to make big changes now. As the Swedish people have proven, practical and sustainable change begins with individual citizens like me and you.
Inspired? Here are forty things you can do to help the environment right now. Here are fifty more. Got kids? Even better. I found fifty ways you can do this with your children. The possibilities are endless. Don’t underestimate your own power.