Living sustainably in Sweden
Here are some tips for living more sustainably in your everyday student life in Sweden. Several of the tips can also help you save money.
Bring yesterday's food in a lunch box
One-third of all food produced in the world is not eaten. If you get leftovers, save the food in a lunch box and eat it for lunch the next day. At KTH, it is common for students to bring lunch boxes to campus. There are microwave ovens on KTH's campuses that you can use if you need to heat your lunch. Bringing lunch boxes saves money, prevents unnecessary food waste, and reduces the number of disposable items you might receive from takeaway food.
When buying food
- Many stores offer groceries with short sell-by dates ("bäst före" in Swedish) at a reduced price. This way, the stores do not have to throw away the food and you as a consumer can save money.
- If stored correctly, food will not automatically become dangerous after the sell-by date has expired. Look, smell and/or taste the food before throwing it away.
- Some food, such as meat, has a label for the last consumption day ("sista förbrukningsdag" in Swedish). This label indicates how long the food is safe to eat, and you should throw the food away if the date has passed.
Choose the right food
- Try to reduce your meat consumption and eat more vegetables. If you buy meat, try to choose Swedish meat and avoid meat that has been transported from other parts of the world, even though it may be cheaper.
- Choose fish that are fished or farmed sustainably. Preferably, buy fish that is MSC labeled (msc.org) .
- Choose fruits and vegetables that can be stored, such as coarse vegetables, and choose more sensitive fruits and vegetables according to the season.
- The market for organic food is growing in Sweden, and it is easy to find organic alternatives to meat, dairy products, eggs, fruit, vegetables and other products. These products are often labelled “ekologiska” or simply “eko”. Organic products are often slightly more expensive but, on the other hand, have many advantages: fewer used chemicals, better care for animals, and less climate impact. There are two labels for organic food in Sweden, KRAV (krav.se) and The European Union organic logo (EU website) .
Recycling is a big thing in Sweden. Packaging of paper, plastic, glass and aluminium can be recycled into new products. Do not throw cardboard, plastic, newspapers, glass, aluminium, batteries or lamps in the trash. Instead, sort them and put them in recycling bins. Many residential buildings have their own recycling bins for such materials, while others are located in residential areas.
Many homes also sort food waste. The food waste can, for example, be used for biogas, which many of Stockholm's buses use for driving.
KTH's premises have recycling bins. Be sure to put plastic, paper and other items in the correct container. What should be thrown in the different containers is clearly indicated.
If you buy cans and PET bottles in the store, you pay 1 or 2 SEK in deposit. This is called "pant" in Swedish, and you will recognise it by its logo with circular arrows. You get your money back if you hand in your cans and bottles at the "pant" deposit stations, located in about 3 100 grocery stores in Sweden.
Textiles have a significant climate impact. Many large clothing chains have started accepting clothes for recycling. For example, the fibres of old clothes can be recycled to manufacture new textiles, among other things, with the help of KTH research . You can also sell your old clothes online or hand them to second-hand shops.
The textile and fashion industry is a resource-intensive industry. Production requires large amounts of water, chemicals and energy, and it causes emissions into the air, soil and water. Textile recycling is good, but the most important effort you can make is to consume in a good way. For example:
- Consider buying second-hand. The clothes already exist and do not contribute to new emissions. There are many second-hand shops in Stockholm, and it is common for Swedes to sell clothes second-hand online.
- Buy good quality clothes that you can use for a long time. The longer you can wear the clothes, the better for the environment.
- Look through your wardrobe and use what you have. Find new combinations with your garments.
Biking is the cheapest, most enjoyable and most sustainable way to get around. Depending on where you live and study, it may also be the fastest. The bicycle network stretches throughout the city with separate bicycle lanes on larger roads. Second-hand bikes are affordable, and during the winter months, you can switch to winter tires to stay safe on icy roads.
Stockholm has a well-functioning public transport system, and it is easy to get around by metro, commuter train, bus, tram and boat. Travelling by public transport is better for the climate than driving a car. Taking public transport in Stockholm is often even faster than a car. Find maps, timetables and info on sl.se .
If you want to visit other parts of Sweden, consider taking the train. Swedish trains run on electricity and are significantly more environmentally friendly than flying. In addition, you can see Sweden's different landscapes from the train window. Find tickets on sj.se . As a student you can buy tickets at a reduced price.