I apologize for the time between now and my last post. I credit the delay to my distracting infatuation with the world around me while living in Europe. It seems as though I find something new and exciting to do every single day.
While it is getting warmer in Freiburg, and I do miss my morning iced coffee in America, I have recently been introduced to the local concept called the Freiburg Cup. This coffee cup is a simple reusable cup that is offered at all of the university owned cafes as well as many others scattered throughout town. The difference from most reusable cups is that you do not buy it and keep it forever, you borrow it. When paying for the coffee or other drink of your choice, the cashier adds a reimbursable charge of one euro. The deal is that you will only get the money back if you return the cup at some point. As I drink coffee each morning, I love this system because I never have to wash a cup. Every morning I return my Freiburg Cup as I buy my new coffee and receive a new cup. Also, if for some reason I know I will not be returning to the university café the following morning, or if my backpack is too full to carry my cup around, then I can walk into almost any café in my proximity and they will give me cash for my Freiburg Cup. I find this system to be surprisingly simple and effective as it reduces the waste generated by disposable cups greatly. I also believe this kind of system would not be too difficult to implement in American communities, especially like those on college campuses.
Due to Freiburg’s reputation for being such a bike friendly city, I recently decided to rent a bike and take part in the biking culture. A German friend of mine even told me that the bikes in Freiburg outnumber the people. I found a very new Dutch startup with a branch in Freiburg called Swapfiets (https://swapfiets.de/) that claims to be the first bike subscription service. At first I was confused why they chose to use the word “subscription” instead of simply “rental,” however, after a short explanation of the program it made perfect sense. For a fixed price of fifteen euros per month, you are given your own bike fit to your measurements, a bike lock, and a guarantee that if there are any problems with the bike, or you somehow damage it, they will repair or replace it for free. This system works perfectly for students like me who are only living in a location for a shorter amount of time than semi-permanent to permanent residents. By using this service I do not need to spend the greater amount of money needed to purchase a bike, and I get a discounted subscription because of my student status.
For my next post I hope to write about the Vauban district of Freiburg that has been labeled the model for sustainable cities. I believe my class is planning a field trip to the area of Freiburg and I could not be more intrigued to see what this district has done to earn its reputation.