Bekah Ashley shared her adventures to Norway that she took with friends, a trip that let her continue to enjoy her passion of snowboarding and learn more about sustainability. Read through Bekah's thoughts and enjoy photos from Gabby Aguirre.

"When last season wrapped up I traveled to Norway with friends to camp, snowboard, and learn about sustainability in another culture. Scandinavia has made a huge push to lower their carbon footprint and I was curious to hear from people in Norway about this.

Our itinerary was a combination of exploration and education. After flying into Bergen we began a roadtrip across the Hardangervidda mountain plateau and Hardangerfjord to Oslo. The road connecting these cities winds along steep granite fjords, waterfalls, fields of wildflowers, and quiet villages. After spending a few days in Oslo we detoured to Folgefonna Glacier and later, Jostedalsbreen Glacier, to take some slushy turns.

On about day ten we made it to Trondheim to meet the founder of Norway’s Protect Our Winter chapter, Ørjan Aall, who gave us a tour of the city and shared his thoughts on climate change action. “Norwegians are a huge part of the problem. We have high private consumption,” he said. “But that also means we can be a huge part of the solution because the CO2 we save makes a big difference.”

We learned from Ørjan that Norway has the geography to battle climate change, but from a cultural lens, it’s more the Norwegian folk soul that faces a problem. “Norwegians are born with skis on their feet. If we want a white Christmas and a white Easter we have to do something. We have to care and we have to show that we take climate change seriously.”

We spoke to Ørjan about making conscious decisions as individuals around food (cutting down on red meat) and private consumption. You don't always have to buy something new - you can repair and take care of what you have, and buy/sell used things.

“On a national level you have to use your right to vote,” he said. “You have the right to vote in two ways. Every time you swipe your card - when you buy something you give your vote to a company that either makes good or bad choices. And in parliamentary elections - it’s so important to use your right to vote and have knowledge about what the different parties stand for.”

As our trip continued so did the conversations. When we circled back to Bergen we spoke to fishermen and ship captains about Norway’s goal to become a low emissions society by 2050 (although parliament is doing their best to fulfill this by 2030). I had a lot of questions - what does it mean to be sustainable as individuals, as a culture? Is lowering carbon emissions enough? Similar to the U.S., one of the biggest challenges facing Norway is shifting away from a fossil fuel-based economy. This transition requires that we think and act differently than we have in the past about energy and the environment. Talking to locals deepened my understanding of the roles people and government have to play in this shift. For example, the Norwegian Parliament lends a hand by offering subsidies on eco-conscious things such as electric vehicles. Last year over 40% of Norwegians drove electric cars with this support. Transportation is the second largest contribution to human caused carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere so you can imagine the positive impact of driving an EV. Another important piece is cultivating a culture of sustainability rooted in things like public education. By teaching climate science to youth, Norway fosters communities who recognize the impacts of their everyday actions. We saw the ripple effect of this as we spoke to university students, many who are passionate about studying sustainability.

As the trip wrapped up I felt grateful for the connections to the people here, their openness to share knowledge, and the perspective we were bringing home. While learning about parliament's initiatives gave me a new lens on responsible government, what I keep coming back to is the role we play as regular people. Not only politicians, climate scientist, or educators, but each of us… consumers, students, parents, voters. We are all influencers in some way." -Bekah Ashley