Jane Arrowsmith turns people’s forgotten fruit into gold – or at least delicious food. Photo: Johannes Frandsen.
July isn’t only the most classical holiday month in Sweden, it is also the time of the year when people’s gardens start to explode with fruits and vegetables.
It might sound odd, but for many this seems to be an annual surprise.
When holidays are planned, very few take into account that their own homes will turn into food-producing factories. Others just don’t have the time or energy to take care of harvests from plants and trees that were probably already there when they moved in.
So while Swedish gardens are bursting with tons of apples, pears, plums, currants and gooseberries – a lot of it unfortunately just rots away.
Liquid apple for darker days. Photo: Johannes Frandsen.
When Jane Arrowsmith, who lives in the western part of Stockholm, noticed this, she felt something had to be done.
She started by letting her friends on Facebook know that she could harvest their fruit and give back 20–25 percent of it in the form of jam, juice and other refined products. The rest of it, Jane and her family eat themselves or sell at local markets.
Soon enough people started to contact Jane themselves. It is hard to know how much fruit Jane takes care of, but she knows that last year more than 300 kilo of apples went to juice-making, and that was just a small part of the harvest.
The electronic waste of the day at the recycling station in my neighbourhood. Photo: Sara Jeswani.
As you probably already know, sorting our waste and recycling is something of a popular sport in Sweden. Yesterday figures for the Swedes’ achievements when it comes to taking care of our electronic waste were published, and – voilà, we’re on top of the world list at bringing our old electric toothbrushes, coffee machines, computers, mobile phones, refrigerators and light bulbs to the recycling stations.
During 2011 we recycled 154 185 tons of electronic waste, which equals more than 16 kilo per person (to be compared to the Euro directive which is set to 4 kilos per person). During last year we recycled 82 million electronic gadgets – 4 million more than the year before.
Just too good to waste. Photo: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se.
As I wrote last week, awareness about the climate and environmental impact of Christmas food has grown quite a lot. But there’s one more thing to this: It doesn’t matter how organic and locally produced the food is if we end up throwing it away.
Every year Swedes let about 900.000 tons of edible food go in to the waste bins. Leftovers from a overdimensioned dinner, those incredibly cheap vegetables that we couldn’t resist buying, meat that would have been delicious but was forgotten when a friend called and wanted to eat out… These things happen to all of us, but a bit of planning can easily reduce waste a lot. Read more » >>
They may look harmless… but trays like these have caused 12 tons of food waste every year in Kiruna! Photo: John Lobel (CC: BY-NC-SA)
Could an ordinary food tray be a new environmental villain that should be banned from public restaurants? Well, maybe these are words that are a bit too harsh, but in Kiruna [map] in the North of Sweden, the tray has been pointed out as a hidden environmental threat, reports the Swedish Radio (article in Swedish). Since three years back all the district’s schools have stopped using trays in their canteens.
The reason? Trays make us take more food than we can eat.
– When you take food and have to hold on to you plate, there is a limit to how much food you can load on it. Otherwise it will spill over the plate’s brim. If you have a tray you can keep on loading all there is without reflecting on if you are actually going to be able to eat it all. These things make a big difference, says Marianne Schröder Mågård, working with food issues in Kiruna.
All students aren’t entirely happy about not having trays (Where put the mobile phone and the wallet when you carry the food? More food ends up on the table.) But: food waste from Kiruna’s schools has dropped drastically, from 28 tons to 16 a year. I guess that speaks for itself.
Once in a while it’s good to take a look back in time and realize that some things have actually changed – for the better
Just watch this information film clip from the Swedish authorities in the 1960:s, when littering was seen as one of the biggest threats to the archipelago. The recommendations back then might seem a bit shocking today: “Sink it in the water or burn it in the harbour”.
But, as in all cases, we can only ask ourselves which of the things that we are doing today that will be looked upon with the same disbelief in 50 years …!
Sjövett means sea sense. Read the whole transcription of the speakers’ text below the film clip.
(When the man has poured his beer:)
“And a few holes in the bottom [of the can] … and it will sink.”
“It already looks like this, but if we don’t deal seriously with littering, our beautiful archipelago will look like this within ten or twenty years.”
“So are there only careless and untidy people who have left this garbage behind? No, most of it is thrown overboard by ordinary, decent people, thinking that ´It doesn’t matter if throw that little thing, nobody will notice it among all the other garbage´. But it’s exactly that little thing – millions of them – that form the large rubbish heaps.
Like this, by means of a few rocks, the garbage kan be sunk beyond the islands, in deep waters. But it’s even better to burn the garbage in the harbour.”
… is one of the founders of Sweden’s first climate magazine, Effekt. Seeing the connections between society and nature results in a lot of thoughts about how we live our lives. How are Sweden and its inhabitants setting about the challenges of making our society a more sustainable one? Why is Sweden often rated as one of the world’s most sustainable countries? Do we earn that title? And what have we got left to do?