Drunker, Fatter, Yet Also Greener

DrunkSwede with viking horns photo

Photo via link2lando at flickr and Creative Commons license.

They are getting older, drunker, and they are also getting fatter, as this nation now drinks 70 to 80 percent more beer and wine than they did twenty years ago, while having far more lazy-making computers at home. Fifty-three percent of the men are too fat, and 37 percent of the women are also. Ninety percent of homes have a computer.

Who do we mean? Well, it's not Americans, though of course they top any global obesity stats. It is, in fact, the Swedes. While the population doesn't seem to be aging healthily, according to the Swedish Statistics Bureau (SCB), they are, surprisingly enough, getting more environmentally friendly than ever before.While tiny Sweden has a population of less than 10 million, they are some of the greenest, most recycling-minded folk in the world.

SCB notes that in the years between 2007 and the end of 2009, nearly 50,000 Swedes bought so-called 'environmentally friendly' cars running ethanol or, in a few cases, compressed natural gas.

Meanwhile, recycling is reaching record levels in Sweden - aluminum and plastic recycling climbed, and newspaper recycling hit 91%.

What makes Swedes greener? It may be simply that Sweden's parliamentary democracy and Swedes' stronger trust in their government have allowed more green legislation to be adopted.

A look at the TreeHugger archives shows Swedes getting excited about the low-carbon lifestyle and passive houses, expanding plastic recycling to include soft plastic bags and packaging, and engineering cars that brake for pedestrians.

Green minded Swedes have considered a cloth diaper rebate, and promised (perhaps a bit optimistically) to phase out fossil fuel use by 2050.

And the Swedes manage to be in the top ten consistently in rankings of most sustainable countries in the world.

Is there a takeaway for us fatter, less green Americans?

Well, there may be at least one - don't be afraid to tax the bad and subsidize the good.
Environmental taxes have risen 34 percent in Sweden in the last decade, while green subsidies have doubled in that same time period.

And that hasn't caused an economic drag - Sweden's economy (in part because it had set in place precautionary bank regulations years before) weathered the economic crisis better than any other European nations, according to recent reports.

More on green Swedes:
Swedes Put First Carbon Labels on Food
Dead Bunny Rabbits Burned For Bioenergy in Sweden
Climate Carrots

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