Bringing Bæredygtighed Back

Documenting sustainable practices throughout Northern Europe from an American perspective


While studying abroad for the spring semester in Copenhagen, Denmark, Madeline Fischer will document her experience pursuing bæredygtighed (meaning sustainability in Danish), comparing the environmentally sustainable practices and policies found in Northern Europe to those of the United States. Fischer is a junior at UW-Madison from Blanchardville, Wis., double majoring in life sciences communication and environmental studies.

June 9, 2016
A post-study abroad perspective on global sustainability

Madeline Fischer
Four months ago, I wasn’t imagining what it would be like to come home. The only thing on my mind was this little country called Denmark – the first place outside of the United States that I had ever had the opportunity to venture to. Four months ago I had no idea that I would see the Eiffel Tower at night, that I would ski in the Alps, that I would climb to the top of a wind turbine, or that the people I would meet would become some of my best friends.

“How was it?” seems to be everyone’s obligatory question upon seeing me again, and I don’t think I’ll ever have an honest answer. My usual response, though, is something along the lines of “it was incredible” or “amazing,” or some other cliché word that could never encompass the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with moving to a new country without anyone familiar by your side.

Read More »


May 9, 2016
Blown away by Samsø, a Danish island powered by wind

Madeline Fischer
After living in Denmark for three months, there are a few things that I’ve come to view as uniquely Danish. Open-faced sandwiches, better known as smorrebrød; hot dog carts (or pølsevogn); and a constant flow of bikes down every major street. However, there’s one characteristic of Denmark that isn’t quite as pleasant – the wind.

I’m not talking about little gusts here and there that catch you off guard. I’m talking about one constant gust, strong enough to force even the most experienced Danish bikers off of the saddle. There are times when I am biking to class that the wind is so strong it becomes nearly impossible to pedal. Not only is the wind robust, but it comes from every direction, meaning that no matter which direction I’m heading, I always seem to be biking straight into these powerful gusts.

Read More »


March 31, 2016
Green Germany: A packaging-free perspective on grocery shopping

Imagine that you no longer have a trash can. There is no place to throw away waste inside of your home, and no trash bin outside that you can set on your curb for your municipality to collect for you. Every piece of garbage that you would normally throw in the trash and forget about is now strewn about your home, dispersed among your food, clothes and furniture. You’d probably eventually get sick of the trash, dig some holes in your backyard and fill those with the waste, but what happens when you run out of space there? You’d quickly realize that your backyard is finite, and instead of thinking of different places you could put your waste, you might start brainstorming ways you could cut it off at the source.  

Garbage is one of the best examples of the old cliché, “out of sight, out of mind.” It smells, it’s dirty and it takes up space, so it only makes sense that we shove it into plastic bags that we throw into bins for someone to t

Read More »


March 4, 2016
Sustainable Sweden

No society is sustainable because they want to be. Switching from a petroleum-based economy to one based on renewables is expensive and a big adjustment, and as a person who is still adjusting to living in a different country, I completely understand why big changes are scary.

So then why are societies making the switch? Yes, global warming has introduced and established the general paradigm that one day the earth is going to be too hot to live on and we’re all going to die, but there are still many societies (ours included) where people go about their daily lives as if this “impending doom” doesn’t exist. So what gives countries that final nudge needed to make a switch to start the investment in a more sustainable future?

Read More »


February 9, 2016
Embracing change for a broader perspective on environmental sustainability

Leaving a place you call home is never easy. Whether your destination is 50 or 4,000 miles away, if it’s not where you grew up, it’s foreign and terrifying. Removing yourself from what is comfortable and replacing it with something unknown is commonplace in the daunting realm that is “becoming an adult.”

I experienced this fear starting my career as a student at UW-Madison a little over two years ago, and I’m experiencing a similar, if not more intense, version of that feeling now, sitting in a café in downtown Copenhagen.

Read More »