Most of us have good intentions to live more sustainably but at least for me they are often difficult to implement. Small changes can make a big difference and are a lot easier to maintain than radical changes; so here topics I want to think about more in depth to make better choices in the future. It’s simple but beating a habit is tricky, especially if it involves making once own’s choices and versus the barrage of advertising we are fed with on a daily basis.
Minimise food waste
An obvious one but probably the hardest, at least for me. All those good intentions of buying veg (or herbs in my case) that eventually get forgotten and float towards the back of the fridge hidden by other items. Or the leftover food that’s waiting to be taken along for lunch but lives a sad life forgotten in a lunch box in the fridge? Being more organized is the solution here – work in progress for myself
Unless I absolutely need to, I won’t buy fruit/veg outside of its growing season and when it’s not grown locally (or at least in Europe). I will leave the South African pears and Argentinian raspberries behind. If we would all consider this a little more, sustainability would be a simple story of supply and demand. Ideally, I’d like to buy more from local producers but usually don’t have the time (or don’t make the time..) to get to a local farmer’s market. That’s on the list for future improvement.
There is so much we can do aside from the obvious like minimizing running water for no reason (while showering, brushing our teeth, running half empty washing machines etc.). Simple things like not boiling a full kettle of water just for one cup of tea, not using microwave/hob/oven for defrosting food but slowly defrost at room temperature instead, or not using a larger hob ring than required for a pot. It’s simple, we just need to beat our bad habits and instead think. Let’s be leaders, not lemmings!
Reduce packaging/ plastic waste
I struggle to fill my bin with non-compostable rubbish but always have plenty of recycle paper waste (which is somewhat ok) but even more recyclable plastic waste. Decomposable plastic leaves an uncomfortable feeling with me unless it is biodegradable (of which I’ve only seen relatively little). Plastic waste for me mainly consists of all the unnecessary wrapping from fruit and veg. A further reason to buy more local food and use farmer’s markets instead. I don’t understand for example why plums need to be packaged in a little container and again wrapped in plastic. Why aren’t these containers all bio-degradable? When I was a child I’m sure to remember that blue containers in which mushrooms were packaged were made of cardboard, similar to egg cartons, it seems to be plastic these days only. The challenge here is to beat convenience and help change the mindset, especially that of large supermarket chains.
Reduce use of chemical substances
Be it the chemical lawn feed, the shampoo and shower gel we use, washing powder, toothpaste – it’s an endless list of substances that somehow end up in our groundwater and hence in our water supply, never mind the plastic waste that comes with it in the form of containers and tubes. Alternatives need to be sexy though for consumers to buy these – I’m convinced that more sustainable alternatives are at least as effective as the chemical options, but non-conventional producers may have less advertising power. I want to make more conscious choices when using such chemical products and research if there are no other options available.
Use disposable containers
Mountains of disposable coffee and latte cups and cupholders and covers, water bottles… ‘nuff said – can we all just put some more thought into our daily activities and bring along refillable options. I can’t believe the number of people I see walking around with disposable coffee cups and water bottles. And those snobby coffee capsules…
…and of course walk, cycle, car-pool…