Thoughts from Nuuk Culture Night

Every year in January companies and institutions all over Greenland open their doors to the general public. This year it was held on Saturday 19 January.

We visited the Ministry of Nature, Enviroment and Research. Their theme for the night was on how to protect the enviroment. Perfect, right? Not quite.

People were being served cakes and warm beverages using single-use non-biodegradable cups, plates and spoons. Is that really the message the Ministry of Nature, Enviroment and Research wants to send?

A quick walk down the road to the supermarket Brugseni would have given them the opportunity to buy biodegradeable and compostable spoons, plates, and cups. All made from sugarcane instead of plastic.

Back to the culture night. We visited Nuuk Imeq, which is a licensed brewer of Coca-Cola, Carlsberg and Tuborg products.

In Nuuk you can return your empty bottles in reverse vending machines where you get your deposit back. These used and empty bottles are then cleaned and re-used. Which saves on the use of plastic.

Unfortunately, only specific types of bottles can be returned and recycled using the reverse vending machines. We wish this recycle scheme would be expanded to include aluminium cans and water bottles imported from abroad.

By the way, next time you want to buy a new tooth brush - please don’t buy a plastic one. Instead, buy one made from biodegradeable and compostable materials. Such as this one made from bamboo (currently on sale in Brugseni Nuuk):

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Harbour bus

Several cities around the world have water or harbour buses, including Copenhagen (pictured above). Why not Nuuk?

The city of Copenhagen decided in 2018 to replace the fleet of harbour buses with fully-electric ones, thereby reducing the noise and air pollution.

Nuuk has lost it’s connection to the sea as a way of transportation. Umiaq boats and kayaks was once a must have mean of transportation. Today, most people in Nuuk have a dirty fossil-fuel car even though there’s only 8 km from one end to the other end of Nuuk. During rush hour the town’s roads can barely handle all of these cars, but the harbour is unused.

GreenGreenland would like Naalakkersuisut (The Government of Greenland) or the Sermersooq Municipality to invest in green harbour buses that could serve the town of Nuuk.

The above image is a quick mark-up of 8 possible stops on a Nuuk harbour/water bus service.

  • Qinngorput Harbour
  • Nuussuaq / Malik Swimming Pool
  • Nuussuaq Harbour
  • Tidal Stairs
  • Queen Ingrid’s Hospital
  • Colonial Harbour
  • Inuk Hostel
  • Attartu

A Nuuk Water Bus service would free up space on the roads and in the ordinary buses, as well as help ordinary people get from A to B in their daily life. Each of Copenhagen’s future electric harbour bus has a capacity of 80 people, 8 bicycles and 4 baby prams. Such a capacity would help families with children in Nuuk. It would also be a tourist attraction in and of itself.

A direct route from Qinngorput to Queen Ingrid’s Hospital or the Colonial Harbour would be a quicker way for people to get to work in the town center or to their hospital appointment.

Harbour buses would also be cheaper than building tunnels or bridges if and when the future neighborhood Siorarsiorfik is build, or if the politicians finally come to their senses and decides to build the Nuuk International Airport south of the town - instead of in the middle of the town itself.

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The Queen’s New Year Speech

Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark gives a live televised speech every New Year’s Eve at 18:00. She is the only Monarch in the world who gives such a speech live with no transmission delay.

This year even The Queen talked about climate change. She fears that thought and consideration are being forgotten.

A translation of her thoughts on climate change and Greenland:

“Increasingly, our way of life affects the environment and the climate.

Businesses have green strategies. Wind, sun and biomass give us cleaner energy. At home in the kitchens many sort the waste. Many buy organic.

It is probably the young people who take the lead. It is those who understand that the problems of the future will be theirs. They will not - like us elderly - linger in old habits.

Therefore, we must listen carefully to the young people when we discuss how we can avoid challenging the balance in nature.

We must take care of the future. We must think about in time.

In Greenland the ice melts. Here, the changes are also clear.

There, high north, you live close to nature. Everyone is dependat on weather and wind, ice and snow all year round. In these years nature is generous. Fishing goes well. It is making progress.

It is my hope that the good development for Greenland will continue and that the vast country must be better tied together and tied closer to Denmark and the world.

I send my warmest New Year's wishes to everyone in Greenland.”

Incidentally, this New Year Speech was broadcast from the Fredensborg Palace, because the Queen’s residence Amalienborg is having climate change protection work done.

Weekly catalogs

A quick and easy way to reduce the amount of waste in Greenland is to stop distributing catalogs and newspapers to every single household every single week.

Every week the chain grocery stores Brugseni, Pisiffik, and Super1 deliver physical catalogs displaying new products, and products on sale. Every other week Pisiffik also deliver a catalog from their other stores Elgiganten, Nota Bene, Torrak Fashion. In Nuuk the local newspaper “Nuuk Ugeavis” also gets delivered every Wednesday.

As seen in the above picture Pisiffik chooses to cover their catalogs in unnecessary plastic which serves no purpose.

The weekly local Nuuk Ugeavis is available to read for free online. So are the catalogs from Brugseni, Pisiffik/Elgiganten/Spar/Torrak Fashion/Pisattat/Jysk, Super1, and Stark.

So if every catalog and newspaper is available online for free. Why is it necessary to print physical copies and distribute them to every household? The answer is of course - it’s not.

In Denmark it’s possible for households to opt-out of receiving free newspapers and catalogs by signing up for the “No thanks”-sticker. Which is a sticker you put on your mailbox, and you will no longer receive the waste that is store catalogs.

Such a way for people and households to opt-out of receiving local newspapers and catalogs are, however, not available for people in Greenland.

GreenGreenland proposes an opt-in procedure. The default should be that no household receives store catalogs or newspapers unless the household has specifically signed up for it.

This will heavily reduce the amount of waste produced, which saves everyone a lot of time and money. And it helps the environment.