This summer a friend and I traveled through Norway. Due to our slight lack of planning we resorted to hitchhiking here and there. While doing so the large share of electric cars took us by surprise. Though we never actually managed to ride with one of the many Tesla’s we spotted, we were told that buying an electric car in Norway gets you a 25 percent VAT reduction as well as many other economic bonuses. Yet, the lack of trash dumped on the side of the roads was just as compelling. How come Norwegians are so environmentally conscious?
In Bergen we met a group of locals, all of whom worked for an oil company. They seemed reluctant and almost ashamed to admit what they did for a living. One even felt the need to add that it was his first job and that he had to pay the bills, didn't he? Needless to say, the night ended with a ride home in one of their electric cars. Could this environmental conscience be borne out of the fact that Norwegians are trying to make up for their country's big business with fossil fuels? Here's what we found on the trip.
Spending time outside seems be fundamental to growing up in Norway. We saw playgrounds in forests, kindergartens with generous outdoor areas and schools that dedicate a weekday for students to explore the surrounding nature. A local beach gave way to some serious Astrid Lindgren vibes: a family building their own bonfire and a five-year old showing us her first self-caught fish.
When we had the chance to spend time with a Norwegian family in their traditional cabin it became clear that this connection to nature is not outgrown with adulthood. In the weekends many visit their hytte, a refuge, to trade in everyday comforts like TV or a hot shower for all kinds of outdoorsy gadgets. It seems that this eco-friendliness is not just an ingrained part of life but something that existed way before the oil boom came around.
Nina Schröder, master student Arts-Klinisch Onderzoeker