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Picking up from where we left off in part 1,  we have some interesting topics for the day. They may seem trivial to some, but are more important than you might think. These topics include: transit and traffic systems, the Swedish grocery store, and lastly in home appliances. Everything is designed around efficiency, this shows whether you’re at home or navigating your way through Swedish traffic. Here’s an example… of course we have been exploring Malmö and its surrounding areas and we noticed something, we have yet to see a single traffic light. The reason for this is because roundabouts are drastically more efficient. Overall, it seems the Swedes have planned ahead to make their country as user friendly as possible.
You might not think about it, but over the course of our lives how much time do you think we waste sitting in traffic, at a red light or some other transit system deficiency? Time is one of the most valuable things as we can never get it back once spent. On that note, here’s are some interesting facts: “Roundabouts reduced injury crashes by 75 percent at intersections where stop signs or signals were previously used for traffic control, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).”  Additional studies by the IIHS of intersections in three states, including Washington, found that roundabouts contributed to an 89 percent reduction in delays and 56 percent reduction in vehicle stops. Congrats, you have more safely and efficiently navigated through traffic and just arrived at the grocery store.

One of the first things you notice as you walk in and go to grab a shopping cart is that all four of the cart wheels rotate 360 degrees. This might seem silly to Europeans that I bring this up, but is relatively fascinating for an American foreigner. The shopping baskets also have miniature 360 wheels and the basket has a handle for you to hold on to while the basket effortlessly glides around on the floor. I noticed as we walked through the store, people were able to more easily and effectively move their shopping carts/baskets. The carts also have these neat little electronic hand held scanners, they allow you to quickly lookup the price of items and then you can “add it to cart”. At the end of your shopping trip, you simply check in the scanner and pay for what you’ve collected. Genius!  Finally, you arrive at the checkout – you attempt to converse with the cashier in your broken Swedish but fail, as they quickly switch to English. We also noticed the conveyor belts were much narrower, which makes sense if you think about it. The casher can only scan one item at a time, so why pile up 5-10 items side by side only to make a huge mess of falling over groceries. Lastly, they have a divider that the cashier controls for after the items are scanned. This allows two people to be packing their groceries simultaneously, which makes the process faster. We have yet to use the electronic hand held scanner but we are working ourselves up to that.

Speaking of electronics, Swedish house hold appliances! It seems almost all devices here have some energy savings efficiency thinking behind them. Appliances such as the washing machine, dryer, refrigerator, oven and stove top to name a few. All of them have some form of usage reminder, meaning if you leave open the refrigerator it will beep at you, same for the washing machine when it finishes a load. Safety precautions also seem to be much more relevant here, the stove tops are induction which typically are a bit safer. The oven has a little latch that requires both hands in order to open it. All in all, I have noticed so many things here in Sweden, it’s a night and day difference, old vs new, slow vs smart, it pleases my inner engineer. It’s a pleasure to observe and inspect my surroundings, I truly appreciate how much effort goes into design and functionality here in Sweden.

I plan on writing part 3 to this series – so stick around!

Drop a comment below on which efficient subject you found most interesting.


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  1. I find the entire topic of efficiency interesting. As a working mother, I have trained myself to be as efficient as I can to give me more time to do the things I find truly important while accomplishing the day-to-day tasks that need doing. To have a government system in place that actually helps in this regard is huge.

    Specifically, I find the use of roundabouts interesting. Our county and the neighboring one here in the U.S. have begun to institute the usage of roundabouts. While I I initially resisted the change, as most of us do, I have come to appreciate the benefits of the roundabout and it’s nice to hear that the stats bear this out!

    Looking forward to Part 3! Thanks!

  2. On a more expanded note, roundabouts give the people a more active participation, more control over their own lives. The less you need to govern the people – the more you let the people govern themselves – the happier the people are. This idea is as old as the Tao te Ching and if more governments worked towards that, there’d be more peace in the world.

    1. I agree on this, and it stands true on many issues. The more you “tighten the reigns” to more people will pull and tug, and try to get away. However, by allowing some freedom, some self governance, people are happy and I believe tend to make better decisions. As for traffic, giving people a more active role and less stops, means fewer opportunities to get distracted.

  3. Walmart and most of the USA. Grocery chains have us checking our own groceries out to save on employee budget cuts which it is complete garbage. There is no customer service in the USA. anymore we come to do it yourself or call 800# to walk you through your problem because once again they prefer not to give customer service. Least they could do is make it more energy efficient and time effective like other Countries do!!! Seem like the US. is Third World Country compared to others regarding several things much of what you have already mentioned in several of your Blog’s.

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      I have noticed quite a few things since I have been here, but one of the simplest is the shopping carts. Such a small thing, yet makes such a drastic difference. Swedish efficiency shows itself everywhere, which makes me appreciate it.

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