To take one example: In a study of Colorado elementary- and middle-school students conducted in 2010, those observed in elementary school, in the authors’ words, “wasted more than a third of grain, fruit and vegetable menu items.”As for me, I learned my lesson last year when my sixth-graders caught me throwing away nearly half a plate of food. Americans have a reputation for doing things on the go: breakfast in the car, lunch at a desk while catching up on email and, of course, coffee on the run. In Finland, my experience is that people are more likely to slow down when they drink coffee. Frantically, I rummaged through the shelf that held our cups.I had severely miscalculated, taking too much food without having enough time to stomach it all. Eventually, I found one silver to-go mug, but the cover was warped.The activity of taking a sauna is not, in any way, sexual.
Sure, Finns know how to have conversations, but they’re not driven by a compulsion to fill time and space with needless chatter.
They had just finished critiquing one of my habits, and they could see that I was on the defensive. According to them, I’m too generous with my hellos.
When I told them I would do my best to greet them just once every day, they told me not to change my ways. But the thing is, now that I’ve viewed myself from their perspective, I’m not sure I want to remain the same. And since moving to Finland two years ago, I’ve kicked a few bad American habits.1. I have yet to meet an American who doesn’t dread the awkward silence.
“I just said ‘I’d love to meet up again.’ It’s like an expression.” Johanna was not satisfied with that. In Finland, people take you at your word.” Since that day, I’ve endeavored to say only what I mean. Its message was straightforward: “No bio waste.” In January, my school launched an initiative to combat leftover food, dubbed the “Eat What You Take” campaign. Now, when a student (or teacher) clears his tray and has food on his plate, there’s nowhere to ditch it.
In the cafeteria, the only available receptacle for the 450 people in my school is a small container the size of a beach bucket, but it’s not for food. Under this new policy, students who have food remaining on their plates have two options: take a seat and polish off the leftovers, or take a bold step into the kitchen and issue an apology to one of the lunch ladies.