Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gurtenfestival & Recycling

Two topics that would seem unrelated, but little do you know...
I spent the weekend in Bern to go to the Gurtenfestival. I got a little preview Sunday morning of what we'll all see tomorrow.

First, Gurtenfestival!
I had planned to attend Friday evening through Sunday, but couldn't leave till Saturday morning. Probably for the best for how little I knew what I was getting into. After getting wristbanded and seeing the enormous line for the Gurtenbahn (a small railway up to Gurten), I decided to walk up thinking it couldn't be that bad. It was actually quite a hike, around 30-40min! But once at the top I was rewarded with music from Züri West, KT Tunstall, Ben Harper, William White (again!), Amy MacDonald.....

Züri West seemed to be the main attraction--the most prominent Swiss rock band (lyrics in Bernese Swiss). I enjoyed their performance, but obviously not as much as everyone else. They're quite old/established; the crowd knew most of the lyrics. So many people were now at the festival, that transversing the grounds to get to the next stage (with Amy MacDonald) was a challenge...basically a human herd.

Unlike Lausanne, where I hear many different languages frequently, including at Festivale de la Cité, I heard, almost exclusively, Bernese German at the Gurtenfestivale. Naturally, more artists were singing in German, or at least conversing to the crowd in German. I was thankful that KT Tunstall didn't speak German; she's good at entertaining the crows in between songs.

Overall, a great festival with a lot of different artists. And an aggressive approach to recycling-->

2. Recycling at the Gurtenfestival
At both Festivale de la Cité and Montreux Jazz, I noticed many recycling stations. Recycling was encouraged and readily available; the Gurtenfestival, however, made it almost mandatory. For most containers and plates you had to pay a "deposit" when you purchased your food or drink: 0.50Fr for PET bottles, 1Fr for plates w/utensils, 2Fr for cups. So, for 0,3L milkshake, I paid 5Fr: 3Fr for the milkshake + 2Fr for the deposit. Heineken served beer in more durable, reusable plastic cups, so naturally, you wouldn't have the impulse to toss it aside. Throughout the festival grounds, there were 3 or 4 stations where you could return your recyclables and collect your deposit. The effort was extremely successful; the festival grounds were clean, except for (what I dislike about Europe) the cigarette butts .

3. Recycling in Switzerland
Generally, recycling is a luxury service, meaning that it's only available in developed countries. I remember educating African refugees in Houston about recycling; the concept was new to them, as no recycling programs were available in the native countries. In the States, recycling is encouraged, a praised effort, a good habit. The Swiss, however, have a extensive recycling system--they recycle 76% of recyclables. The importance on recycling really hit me when we had a short review at lab meeting about the our recycling in lab. Even during my first week, after reading my housing complex's instructions on waste disposal, I was confused about what items could be recycled and what is waste. I recently found out that households have to purchase stickers for trash bags (so the collecting service takes it away) but not for recyclables.

I wanted to post all this earlier, but was waiting to find my camera cord to include some pictures of Bern and the festival. The cord's lost, so the pictures will come in a separate post.

See everyone tomorrow!


Suzanna said...

Ahhh, so funny. I lived next to the Gurten and hearing your surprise 30-minute trek cracks me UP! hehe:)
I didn't realize the deposit-for-cup scheme was a Bernese thing. They also did the same downtown throughout the UEFA snack tents. Glad you visited my city (although I'm back in Houston). Have a great rest of your stay!

warmi said...

i think swiss is a great country