Hi everyone, Erica here! I just got back from a 10 day trip around Northern Europe, and I’m here today to tell you all about the different sustainability programs (or lack thereof) I saw along the way. It was so inspiring to see how so many different countries and cultures are working to protect our environment.
Stop 1: Copenhagen Denmark
Did you know Copenhagen is known as the bike capital? I sure didn’t! Copenhagen is completely filled with bikes, when I landed in Denmark early in the morning, there was more traffic within the bike lanes of people cycling to work than driving. Even when it was pouring rain one day, everyone rode their bikes like any other day.
My hotel also made it clear that sustainability mattered to them. A lot of the produce in their restaurant came from their own farm, and they advertised about using all parts of the food to reduce food waste. Check out some of the pictures from around the hotel.
Stop 2: Stockholm, Sweden
Like Copenhagen, Stockholm is full of bikes and bike lanes, even in the heart of downtown. While to me riding in the city center looked terrifying, it was a beautiful day and you could see entire families biking together. Stockholm is also an incredibly green city, with parks and green spaces all over, full of people spending time outside.
Stop 3: Tallinn, Estonia
I didn’t know what to expect heading to Estonia, but I was pleasantly surprised about how sustainable they are. For the capital city, the streets are really clean, with both garbage and recycling cans everywhere, which are obviously used. One really cute thing I saw were these stuffed toys in a souvenir shop, made from recycled materials.
Stop 4: St Petersburg, Russia
Russia was the only country that disappointed me in their sustainability. The St Petersburg metro system, our tour guide explained, is horribly inconvenient, so almost every family in or around the city has at least 2 cars, making traffic horrific. We drove around the city both in the morning and afternoon and traffic never seemed to let up.
Stop 5: Helsinki Finland
The city of Helsinki is running an initiative through the summer to help protect the Baltic Sea. People sign up to run through one of the city’s parks, and for every person that signs up, the city has pledged to donate a certain amount of euros to save the Baltic. Beyond this initiative, it was clear in my short time there that Finns are enthusiastic about nature and spending time outdoors. I learned that Finnish schoolchildren spend 15 minutes playing outside for every 45 minutes of learning, even in the winter! This outdoor time instills a love of nature into the children from the start.