Blue sky in Uppsala (Source: Sania) Blue sky in Uppsala (Source: Sania)

Study in Sweden Sustainability Challenge

From the June 11th to 17th, Supritha, Usisipho and I initiated a one-week challenge about living the sustainable life because living in Sweden changes our view. This new perspective is a result of living in an environment that has incorporated sustainability aspect into the daily life.

When I thought about sustainability two years ago, what I had in my had in something high up in the elite level where it consists of policy and agreement. Two years down the line, I acknowledge that sustainability itself is multi-faceted. It is a destination but also a progress. It is a global issue that is made up of numerous local issues. It requires partnership and individual change.

The three of us (Supritha, Usisipho, and I) are studying sustainability in three different universities in Sweden – except for Supritha who just finished her study (grattis!). We sat down and discuss the main issues of this topic and came up with seven challenges to do that was intended to drove behavioural change and got us more conscious. Our experiences were shared through stories in Study in Sweden’s Instagram account.

The one-week challenge (Source: Sania)

The one-week challenge (Source: Sania)

The easy challenges

Since I have been exposed to sustainability topics quite a lot lately, I discover that transitioning from my usual daily life to this challenge is not hard. I mainly use a bicycle or walk as my choice of transportation in Uppsala. Other than those two, I also use the public transport which I find to be very convenient. Especially if you are going with your friends!

Public transport means reducing your carbon footprint while having fun with your friends (Source: Hyunjin Nam)

Dancing in front of T-bana (Source: Hyunjin Nam)

That picture was taken when a parade of high school students passed by in the spirit of graduation celebration. It is not like every time I am with Sanjay and Emma in front of the metro that we dance like no one is watching. I do not want to give you the wrong picture here. The secondhand market industry here is big. If you do not believe me, read Raeed’s post about it. Most of my winter clothes were bought in the secondhand shop, or from the online groups that focused on buy and sell items. Usually, there are quite a few in every city, especially if it is a notable student city. To buy a secondhand item is not just sustainable for the product’s lifecycle but also for our wallet. Double benefits win.

The farmer's market (Source: Sania)

The farmers’ market (Source: Sania)

Eating locally sourced food really help to reduce your carbon footprint (CF). CF is the total emissions that are the result of someone’s activity or a product (during manufacture and transportation) during a given time. I have not really count the real numbers of my food consumption CF during my time in Sweden but my hunch tells me that I might have been more sustainable when I was in Indonesia, just because all the fruits and vegetables were sourced locally. There are not as many options that I can have here in Sweden if we talk about locally sourced greens and fruits, especially in the winter, but I think I compensate my CF in this area by not driving around in my car.

To go to a farmers’ market I have to get on my bike or take the bus because it is quite some distance. Particularly the one that is shown in the picture above – it is in Stockholm so I have to take the public transport. Then my housemate came up with an idea to eat the flower in season. You heard it right, a flower. Apparently the season of elderflower comes in advance so we have to use the resource that we have to feed ourselves, otherwise, they will go to waste. We made an elderflower pancake with sprinkle of sugar – it was an interesting experience and taste, I would love to have it again!

Elderflower pancake, very sustainable! (Source: Sania)

Elderflower pancake, sourced from the neighbourhood, felt very sustainable! (Source: Sania)

The not-so-easy challenges

Transportation, fashion and food responsible consumption, waste management and social donation are not a new habit for me. They have integrated into my life. However, there are two challenges that have not yet become my habits. The first is electricity consumption, and the second is water consumption. I have to admit that I still take these resources for granted.

All the gadgets and the electricity used (Source: Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se)

All the gadgets and the electricity used (Source: Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se)

Whenever my laptop has been fully charged, I still have it plugged in. Every time I finished charging my phone, I just take the charger off my phone but not from the electric socket. I managed to not do it for two days but it was forgotten on the third day of the challenge week. So bad.

Splish splash of water is fun even the moose likes it (Source: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se)

Splish splash of water is fun even the moose like it (Source: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se)

The other challenge that I find it hard to do is to have a short shower. Perhaps it is caused by the fact that my mom wanted to take a shower before she went to the hospital for labour when she had me (I was told that the top of my head was already out), so right now I am just fulfilling her wish to take a shower. Maybe I am just looking for a reason because to change a habit is not easy. Yes, it is not easy but it is not impossible either. I will do my best to change my habits for the better and sustainable direction.

Have you tried the Sustainability Challenge? What is your story about it? Or if you are not interested in trying one, let me know your reasons – it is nice to know different perspective. Let’s talk in the comment section below.

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Sania

From Indonesia to Sweden. From a product designer to a master student in Sustainable Development at Uppsala University and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Do you have questions about studying in Sweden? Reach me through e-mail at sania.studyinsweden(at)gmail.com
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