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Sweden – recycling, innovations,meatballs, and Midsummer

Visiting Sweden I discovered many interesting things, including the fact that there are many Swedish innovations. I did not know that the metal bottle cap was invented here, or that the author of Pippi Longstockings was from Sweden. Of course we all know about IKEA. But did you know that the person who created it was a 17 year old Swedish boy and it was in 1943? And naturally meatballs and herring are the foods many of us associate with Sweden. The meatballs did not originate here, but were introduced to the country by King Charles XII who brought the recipe back from Turkey in the early 18th century. They are like “köfte” in Turkey.

Sweden is also known as a top recycler. Less than 1% of their trash goes to landfills. I expected to see recycling bins everywhere. This was not the case in the places I visited. Uppsala University did a great job of providing recycling “drawers” for most items. The hotels where I stayed provided nothing. One hotel left a notice in the room for guests to encourage them to recycle. The waste that is not recycled is incinerated in “waste to energy” plants. There is often debate within the recycling community as to whether or not incineration is a good way of recycling. It helps countries in the European Union as they strive to meet a recycling target of 65% by 2030.

While I was visiting, Sweden celebrated – Midsummer. It is a major holiday that has been celebrated since about the 1500s. There are special ceremonies with dancing and raising a maypole adorned with greenery and flowers. The traditional foods are herring, boiled potatoes, and schnapps.

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