My life here has been filled with research and traveling. I am leaving soon, but I wanted to conclude this blog with one observation I have been keeping track of my entire time here. This is the way companies use Swiss-made products and Swiss quality to advertise. See the pictures below from lattes to tshirts to magazines (red spines) to sugar to fast food.
There is a huge push in Swiss grocery stores, restaurants, etc. to buy Swiss grown vegetables. In the grocery stores, it is actually hard to find vegetables from other places, but if I do they are from Spain or Italy. However, I wonder what happens in the winter when it is too cold to grow most of this stuff here.
On a side note Organic (Bio) options are almost always available and, in the case of soy milk, can even be cheaper than the product that is not Swiss and not organic (below). ( I still haven’t figured out why/how there was that large of a difference. They are both 1 L)
The companies could be using the association of Switzerland with quality (If you go into any tourist trap you are sure to see ‘quality’ watches, pocket knives, and chocolate). The sign below is on all trams I have seen in Switzerland. Notice the Swiss flag next to quality.
It could be politics that I am not familiar with. It could also be partially due to Swiss pride. Overall I wonder how it works out environmentally, because the Swiss are funding their own economy and saving in money and in emissions to transport food in from over the place.
Anyway, this has been an amazing experience and if you too are an exchange student going to ETH or even Switzerland, do not hesitate to contact me with questions!
Cheers and thanks for reading!
P.S. I also noticed that the zoo is really outwardly honest about environmental cruelty (I first noticed this when I saw a little girl scream in disgust at a sign that had turtles being cooked for soup on it to show why that type is endangered). I found the signs below. The tire one even talks about how many cars are in Switzerland in particular. There was a lot more too but some was lost in translation. These you can distinguish the message without reading. I want to compare this to the Indianapolis zoo next time I go.
On Sunday, our lab went on a long hike. It was impressive how easy it was to all meet up and get to the starting location via trains. Maybe it is just me, but when stuff like that has to be organized around cars, things can get more complicated. We all met at the train station, bought tickets, and got on the train together. The hike was beautiful (above) although a few of the Swiss were saying ‘the views were alright.’ I guess it is nothing compared to hiking near the Alps. I loved it.
I also love yogurt and this is evident from my stack of polystyrene containers that I have been saving to recycle since I arrived (This is mostly because I can only find PET recycling right now but I know PS recycling exists). However, I was able to recycle the labels. These containers- of any brand of yogurt I have found here EXCEPT imported stuff which is a very small section- have been made to be easily taken apart and recycled. The label that indicates the flavor, brand, calories, etc is paper-based (maybe card stock?). It is removed by tearing a perforated side of the label. Then the plain white container can easily be recycled. It doesn’t have a mix of colored plastics meant to entice the shoppers and make the product stand out because they do this on the label that can easily be recycled. It isn’t hard to separate the plastic part from the label part. In fact, it was obviously created with the product’s ‘end of life’ in mind.
P.S. It is now a few weeks later and I am leaving soon, so I set out with the mission to find PS recycling. I went to the recycling center at coop and found a customer my age who spoke English. She told me she has never seen PS recycling and doesn’t think they do it here. I looked up recycling centers online and could not find anything but PE and PET recycling (I think… it was all in German, French, or Italian). I then left the Coop to go to the crowded streets of Zürich during ‘Street Parade’ (my timing is awesome). This means I stood out because I was not wearing neon. I went up to the street cops and asked in German if they spoke English. One nodded and I asked about PS recycling and held up one of my yogurt containers. He responded in German and walked me over to a trash can and pointed at it. I had to throw away all of my yogurt containers in the middle of this huge festival which was pretty sad.
On a brighter note, yesterday- August 1- we all said ‘Happy Birthday Helvetica’ and I went to a different festival with lots of beer and dancing. I found out there that they give you 1 chf if you bring your empty glasses and cans back to the bar, so we all just collected the cans that people left around and paid way less for our drinks! (Beers are 6 chf and mixed drinks are 15 chf!) The ground was pretty clean too, especially because there were a lot of people like us picking up the cans to save money. One of the people in our group was pulling cans out of the trash can when her friend turned to me and joked ‘This is what Swiss poverty looks like.’