Today we took the train to Malmo, Sweden for one of the several tours they are offering in light of COP 15. Our tour was about Augustenborg, a town which previously had old buildings falling apart and ashamed residents, is now a place where residents have every right to brag about how they are one of the leading eco-friendly cities in the world.
One of the highlights of this tour was the green rooftops that we were able to walk up and see. These rooftops are can be easily maintained and prove to be a simple way to bring nature back into the city. This part of the tour was very enlightening because the tour guide reminded us that just because we live in an urban environment, does not mean that nature cannot be a part of our lives. If buildings take all of the ground space up, why not use the empty space on the rooftops to grow plants and possibly even food?
Another great part of Augustenborg were the various bike paths. Since arriving in Copenhagen, and then traveling into Malmo, I am very impressed with the amount of people who use bicycles instead of cars. I was impressed when I saw the separate bike lanes in Copenhagen and how I learned that in the winter the bike lanes are plowed before the rest of the street. This shows the dedication of people here who are actually making an effort to be eco-friendly. In Malmo, I was informed that there are even more bike paths than in Copenhagen, and I think that it is spectacular that people utilize the bike lanes and do not depend on cars as a main source of transportation.
There were many other parts of the tour which amazed me, such as the use of geothermal energy, use of solar panels, and their canal system; however, I was in awe of their recycling centers. Throughout the town of Augustenborg, there are small buildings which have clearly labeled recycling bins where people take can take their garbage and sort it out. Some of the waste is even used for fuel, which is what our tour bus ran on! Augustenborg even took the citizens who did not want to partake in this recycling system, and drove them to places where their waste would go otherwise.
This tour was just very inspiring because Augustenborg has become transformed into such an environmentally friendly place. I am excited to see that their government cared so much about this that they did everything they could to engage their citizens to be part of an eco-friendly life style. It is amazing what the support of their citizens can do because they all take an active role in society by recycling, maintaing the green rooftops, riding bikes, and teaching all of this information to young children who will continue this sort of behavior as they grow up. All of the great features of Augustenborg did not just happen over night; it took lots of time, money, and most importantly support from the citizens who are now so proud of where they live. This gives me hope that if Augustenborg can transform itself, that with enough support and desire for change, even a city like Chicago can start incorporating these green tactics into our daily lives.