Back Home And Changed Indelibly

As we head off back to the white shores of home, we have time to reflect on what we have learned and how this experience has changed us. In this closing entry of the blog, we will each give our own opinion on this and some thoughts about the future of sustainability and its importance in the global stage.

Ricky: It’s clear that I severely underestimated the commitment to environmental issues in the Nordics. I actually was fortunate enough to travel to Copenhagen last year and even then I did not notice the same fervor for this topic that I did this time around. Perhaps Greta’s influence and the increasing polarization in the world has caused this tonal change. Regardless of the reason, it was quite apparent. In Finland, Estonia, Sweden, and Denmark it was clear from visiting the various corporations and from the attitudes of the people themselves, this was an issue that was becoming supreme in importance. To illustrate this point, in at least two different instances I was about to throw away a plastic good and was chastised by a local for failing to throw it away in the proper receptacle. I cannot imagine this happening anywhere in the United States. It is clear that corporations in the Nordics must respect this issue and make it a focus if they want to survive in this climate. In some ways, it is heartening to see this vigilance, although I do worry that it can become too vigilant in some ways. It is good that is becoming the main topic of conversation, but we do not want the debate to become vitriolic at the same time. Still, I’m sure as time moves the Nordics will be seen as a world leader on this topic and the world will slowly adopt the same tenets. My main takeaway from this trip is that people like Greta and corporations may be small on the global scale, but if enough speak up a major difference can be made.

Ken: This entire journey has been very eye opening to me, from the preparation courses before our actual trip to the trip itself. Hearing about Greta and her activist efforts has really inspired us to look at the effort towards sustainability that can be observed in the Nordic regions. These are practices that are not as common in the Americas. With a different perspective, I hope to bring some of the sustainability practices in the Nordics back to California. Sorting out your trash before disposing of it stood out to me the most as it is much more of a hassle than tossing it in a bin. If the extra effort means a brighter, more sustainable future, then count me in! While staying in Copenhagen, the Kong Arthur hotel committed to green practice by not having an air conditioning system. I can’t imagine any hotel in the United States committing to a similar practice. Being my first time in Europe, it has been an eye opening experience overall and would plan to come back to the Nordic region again!

We both want to thank Professors Myhr and Wihlborg for providing us students with a truly transformative experience. It is one that will not soon be forgotten by either of us. Signing off for the last time; adjö!