You have to be careful to avoid treading on broken beer bottles and cans. The amount of garbage in the street makes it look like a big festival has been taking place. Two hours later, when other people go to work, the streets are magically clean and tidy.

Cleanliness is something that really defines Sweden, and last year Stockholm got the award for being the best city in Europe for environmentally friendly urban living.
When you arrive as a foreigner to the capital of Sweden, you are probably in for an eye-opener. In your hotel you may notice that the lights in your room only switch on when the key is inserted into a device inside the room, preventing any lights from staying on when nobody is in the room. All those miniature bottles with shampoo and conditioner are conspicuous by their very absence. Instead, there is a large container in the shower. Last, but not least, hotel guests are expected to sort their garbage! This can be seen as a strange and time-consuming chore to people, but the environmental concern is part and parcel of every Swede's daily life.

It’s no surprise that Sweden, together with Denmark and Holland, is the best in the world for recycling.
In Sweden, recycling garbage is something you are born knowing about. Nine of ten Swedes don’t throw batteries, milk cartons, glass or plastics into the regular garbage can, according to Statistics Sweden. Instead they go to a recycling plant nearby and throw each item into different dumpsters. If you don’t follow the signs that tell where each item shall be put, you could end up with a big fine.


Green is indeed the new blue and yellow
Even if Swedes have been aware of the importance of taking care of the environment for decades, the number of environmentalists has increased over the last few years. The most obvious sign is the popularity of the Green Party (Miljöpartiet), which historically pushed issues such as climate change, environment—and equal rights. In the 2010 election it surprisingly became the third biggest party in Sweden.
The party garners the most support among young people. It is also young people who consume most ecological food and clothes. Many trendy restaurants and cafés around Stockholm, especially in the district Södermalm, serve only locally produced, organic food.
Sweden's capital is spoiled with efficient care for the environment and clean streets. It is not without reason universities around the world send their students to Sweden, to study and observe methods of recycling. There is a place for everything, and we put everything in its place—even when its use-by date has expired.

By Hanna Aqvilin