Sweden is Running Out of Trash


landfill garbage trash sweden

In Sweden, this trash would be almost as good as gold. http://newenergyandfuel.com

Sweden is now importing trash from surrounding countries in order to sustain its waste-to-energy program. Its recycling program is so successful that only 4% of all trash that the Swedish population produces ends up in landfills.

This is very delightful news and sheds light on a brighter future in environmental conservation as well as a cleaner environment overall. However, this recycling-centered mindset has caused a rather peculiar problem: there is now a shortage of trash to power this waste incineration program.

On average the waste-to-energy program handles two million tons of trash annually and heats 810,000 homes. It began in the earlier half of the 20th century, and has increased in capacity and efficiency throughout the years. The trend goes like this: waste incineration capacity increases, while percent of garbage going in to landfills decreases.

According to Public Radio International, Sweden now imports 800,000 tons of trash on an annual basis. Most of the trash thus far has come from Norway. The deal that Sweden gets is nothing short of spectacular. Norway pays Sweden to export the trash from their landfills. What Sweden gets in return is a FREE energy source to provide thousands of homes with electricity and heat.

The flip-side is that the waste byproduct known as dioxin, which comes from the ashes of trash, is an environmental pollutant. Along with the dioxin there are also heavy metals in the ash. These all get exported back to Norway where it gets put back into the landfills. Norway does not seem to mind this as burning waste seems to be more expensive than exporting it.

(One thing I do not understand is why Norway does not implement the same energy-to-waste program as Sweden, that way an even larger part of the Nordic area could become a waste consuming powerhouse. As Norway’s economy continues to thrive, I don’t think that finding money to fund such a program would be much of an issue.)

Countries like Italy and France could benefit from exporting waste to Sweden as well. Naples, Italy produces more trash per square meter than any other place on the planet. Have you been to Paris recently? If you are traveling from Chicago, you can definitely smell the stench in the air in many areas, especially where trash is left out on the curbs.

How about implementing this kind of system in Africa or Asia? There are numerous countries with waste treatment programs that are not on par with the developed world, posing various health threats.

I hope that one day Sweden will lead the way in other regions of the globe by continuing to handle waste creatively as well as educate individuals and groups on recycling methods.

For more information regarding how trash affects our planet, click here.










All Your Kids are Sexting: Sex, Nudity, and Violence


A recent study has found that roughly 28% of teenagers text fully naked pictures of themselves to other people, also known as sexting. 31% of teens admitted to asking others for sexts. This means that sexting has become as trendy as bell bottoms were for your mom and dad in their psychedelic days of yore.

The study examined almost 1,000 high school students from seven public schools in southeast Texas (yes, the study is confined to Texas, so the data is extrapolated, but unless this particular region of Texas is the sexting capital of the world, it’s a fairly safe extrapolation). The participants were 14 – 19 years old and 55% were female.  Interestingly, the study found that male and female teens sext at equal rates, though girls were asked far more often to send naked pictures than guys were.

Sexting also seems to be age related, as the study found that:


More 16- to 17-year-olds sexted than their younger and older peers. Sexting requests also peaked when teens were in that age range and dropped off at age 18.


Some important highlights regarding sexting include:

  1. White teens sext the most, far more than any other race.
  2. There is a strong correlation between sexting and sexual behavior, including unsafe sex.
  3. Girls are bothered the most to send sexts.
  4. Socio-economic status has no effect on the rate of sexting.
  5. Most importantly, due to vague laws, millions of teens may be held liable for child pornography charges, leading many to urge law makers to create more specific child pornography laws.

So what does all of this mean?  Should we start destroying cell phones with bibles and ask the Westboro Baptist Church to pray for America’s salvation?  Is America destined to become a sex-ridden cesspool of debauchery and child porn?  No. I feel like a broken record when I say this, but what this means is that we all need a paradigm shift in the way we think, as well as more thorough and realistic education regarding the topic. We are sexual beings, and no matter how much we try to repress this fact, it remains true.

Let’s begin:

Sex is taboo in many countries around the world, and America is far from the exception.  Our bodies are a constant source of shame and seen as something to hide from the world and ourselves.  God forbid that a girl is curious about her vagina, or a young boy about ejaculation! On the other hand, violence, gore, and war is glorified and constantly portrayed as heroic, noble, and necessary. Why are we so afraid of telling our kids about the most essential part of life, the act that makes life possible?  Our Puritan ancestors would be proud, but the progressive future is shaking a giant, phallic fist at us.

George R.R. Martin, the author of the Game of Thrones series, explains perfectly the problem with our culture regarding sex:

I can describe an axe entering a human skull in great explicit detail and no one will blink twice at it. I provide a similar description, just as detailed, of a penis entering a vagina, and I get letters about it and people swearing off. To my mind this is kind of frustrating, it’s madness. Ultimately, in the history of [the] world, penises entering vaginas have given a lot of people a lot of pleasure. Axes entering skulls, well, not so much.

We bring our children to movies featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger taking lives with every pull of his trigger finger but cover their eyes when a naked body is shown on screen.  When boys get into fights we say “boys will be boys,” but when a girl has her first kiss we tell her to stay away and that sex will ruin her life. The spread of sexting is a direct reflection of a culture, and what a culture represses and praises.  Curiosity killed the cat, and it also forced kids to resort to sending naked pictures of themselves.  That’s all this is, simple curiosity and pubescent excitement. The age related aspect of sexting proves it.  Let’s take one more look:

More 16- to 17-year-olds sexted than their younger and older peers. Sexting requests also peaked when teens were in that age range and dropped off at age 18.

Now, this situation isn’t a simple black and white, on the contrary, it is criss-crossed with the complexities of media, politics, substance, religion, parenting, education, and more.  Here is something to consider when thinking about how to raise your own children though:  not every westernized, developed society has the same cultural values regarding sex, nudity and violence as the United States, and guess what, they are doing fine.

Let’s consider nudity.  I live in South Korea right now, and one of the cultural pastimes in Korea is going to the bath house, or in romanized Hangul, the jimjilbang. Males and females go into separate rooms and just generally relax in baths and saunas of different temperatures.  The entire time you are naked.  Little boys and anciently old men ‘hang out’ around each other with everything hanging loose.  I must admit, as a man raised in Midwest America who is used to changing his underwear using the old ‘under the towel’ trick, the bath houses were quite a shock and took a little while to get fully used to.

When I traveled to Scandanavia, I noticed that they had a totally different view of nudity, and gender roles as well.  Many of the magazines depicted topless women, and lying naked on the beach seemed pretty common in Oslo, Norway.  I even saw women breast feeding their babies in public without the slightest bit of self-conscious worry.

Simply put, people in countries like these learn to be comfortable with their bodies, and grow up with a realistic understanding that the men and women they see in the movies and in pornography are not the norm.

Could sexting be related to a repression of our natural bodies?  Could it be a response to a childhood of being more scared of being naked around others than anything else?  I don’t know, but I do know that in America the only naked bodies, or semi-nude bodies that children see are those of perfectly sculpted, often photoshopped models/ celebrities.  In a country where celebrity worship syndrome affects a large portion of the population, it is understandable that the American public has a very warped, unrealistic and shallow view of beauty and themselves.

Every country has a different view of sex and sexual education, but what is common is that sex-ed seems to be lacking in the realistic department.  Unless you really are a time traveling 18th century Puritan, you will agree that teens are going to engage in sexual behavior whether we like it or not, no matter how much we like to believe our children are innocent angels devoted to celibacy.  Face it, your child is a ravenous horn dog just like you, and pretending otherwise is only going to confuse the hell out of him or her and make them think there is something wrong with them when they start masturbating incessantly.

Sexuality and violence are also portrayed in a completely different light in other countries. In fact, they have utterly different rating systems.  For example, in Sweden it’s totally acceptable for a 13 year old and even younger to see a movie with a scene depicting sex (I’m not referring to hardcore porn, just a scene where sex is obviously taking place).  On the other hand, it is inappropriate for a 13 year old to witness any type of violence, even scenes that we Americans would consider sissy stuff, like a punch or a slap.  Perhaps that’s why Sweden has one of the lowest intentional homicide rates in the entire world (to be fair, although Sweden has one of the lowest homicide rates, it does have a relatively large rape problem. )

It is very difficult to accurately and fairly measure crime rates worldwide as all countries have different definitions of crime as well as differing methods for obtaining information. One thing is for sure though, the United States is extremely violent!

It’s pretty obvious here that the media and culture at large are the leading factors in emerging sexual behavior and violence as a whole. What can we do about it?  Be an honest, open parent.

Don’t punish your child for being curious and excited about the world they live in. Just because your child is engaging in sexting does not mean they are some sex crazed, immoral nympho. They are curious about their body and sexuality, and would benefit greatly from open conversations with you regarding sex and sexual behavior. Be honest with your children. Do your job and be a guide.  The less you tell them, the more you are endangering and limiting their lives.