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Let's Be Honest, Episode 43: 8+1 things to do, to become more sustainable

Let’s be honest is a Food Circle project to open up the conversation about the challenges when being or becoming a member of the SC (Sustainability Club). This series will shine a light on the different approaches to making life more sustainable and the step-backs and difficulties that arise. Being more kind and understanding, instead of critical, will hopefully help to encourage us to try instead of giving up when facing a step-back or failure. This is made possible thanks to Sapient, the mother company of Food Circle, which every year offers internships to students from all around the world, creating a uniquely multicultural environment!

Let’s celebrate the achievements and give room for honesty and struggles!

A small introduction

In times where harmful physical fenomenons have made their way into our everyday life and threaten to worsen it, although it is totally our fault, it is our responsibility to save our planet. Global warming, climate change, food waste, water & air pollution etc. are not minor problems. But what can you do about it? Well, leading a sustainable life contributes positively in all these matters. Sure, you will think that one person will not bring the change or have a big impact. If each time, one person changes his lifestyle, then with a healthy mindset we will collectively help combat the environmental problems we face. Here are 8+1 easy and simple things to do, to follow a more sustainable lifestyle:

1. Recycle

The most common way to start impementing sustainable habits in your daily routine is recycling. You know how to do it. Begin with separating your trash to recyclable or not. Under 15 minutes, you can quickly search and learn the basic rules of recycling and what goes where. Some stuff we believe can be recycled in reality, cannot. With this being said, it is a great opportunity to start also recycling our bathroom and beauty products. A research has shown that people recycle only 50% of their self-care products, probably because the recycle bin is in the kitchen. Well, just imagine how much more we could be saving by installing a bin in the bathroom or by collecting and discarding the plastic from the bathroom to the kitchen.

2. Thrift

Another notorious way to go greener. The time comes when you have to ditch something you are very familiar with and very fond of, and that is fast fashion. The majority loves to buy new, in fashion trendy clothes that can mix and match and create beautiful outfits. Understood. Due to this extreme market demand, fast fashion industries have become the second most pollutant source and is estimated to produce approximately 92M tons of waste per year. That's a pretty big number, don't you think?

Well, here entries thrifting, an easy and eco-friendly alternative to fast fashion purchases. Second hand stores are starting to gain more trust and fame the last years. You can find all kinds of clothing and in a variety of sizes. Moreover, the prices are much more affordable. These pieces will last longer and if you get bored you can always re-sale them or give them away to people who need them.

*Pro-tip: Shopping in person is usually greener than online. Clothes shipped across the world have a significant carbon footprint, and often come packaged in plastic. You are also less likely to return things you have tried on.

3. Go #PlasticFree

A dream hopefully to become true. This simple act would contribute to our salvation. But sincerely, it is not simple at all. However, there are some small steps towards this direction. For your grocery shopping, you can bring your own reusable bags to store your products. You are also able to minimise packaging. Instead of buying a plastic wrapped salad, you can go for the fresh ones such as tomatoes, spinach etc. For your drinks, you can carry with you reusable straws and cups as to reduce the use of plastic in your daily coffee. That's some zero waste advices that reduce a lot your carbon footprint. The same can be implemented to the selection of beauty products. Stores that sell unwrapped self care products exist and you bring your own containers to store them. Of course, plastic in some cases is unavoidable but you can recycle and reuse as much as you can so your waste does not end up in landfills and oceans and especially in animals stomachs!

4. Grow your own produce

It is true, the best garden that exists is your own plot. To minimise the fossil fuels and ecological footprint of imported products but also to save a bunch of money, it is a great idea to cultivate your own garden. You can grow fruits and vegetables that will be organic and fresh. It is an unspoken rule that the produce from your garden always tastes better. Furthermore, it is a very interesting hobby. You will learn to divide seeds, to take care of them, learn about their growth and do a little bit of gardening. This way your home will be prettier and cozier.

5. Compost

Well, you can never go wrong with that. Composting is a very useful method. To begin with,it is essential for the garden. While the leftovers you throw become soil, you can use to fertilise your garden and plants and in combination with growing your own produce, that would make you an excellent gardener. It contains many nutritious substances and transfers them to the soil. Of course, we should not forget the fact that we reduce our food waste because it ends up in our composter and not in some landfill rotting there. It seems like a win - win situation. Composting is such a green method and reduces our waste and carbon footprint.

6. Eat less meet

It is not extraordinary why the Mediterranean diet is the most balanced and healthiest diet. The pyramid includes a very balanced meal programme, including every food in moderation. Meat consumption is suggested once per week and processed meat even more occasionaly. Factory farmed animal protein has a higher carbon footprint than many other food options, it's responsible for the pollution of groundwater, air, and soil and consumes an extraordinary amount of energy and water.

A good swapping in sustainable food products would be a more plant-based and whole-food diet. Fruits and vegetables are suggested daily in the pyramid while legumes and eggs should be consumed more usually that fish and meat. Combining all these products you can have a delicious and healthy meal with a high nutritional value. Eating less meet benefits your organisation and at the same time saves the environment and the wildlife.

7. Transportation

It is common knowledge that transportation is one of the most pollutant sources for the environment. It affects deeply climate change, global warming and the greenhouse phenomenon. A huge change of habits and mindsets is needed so we can see results but change comes with collective effort, especially in this problem.

Walking and cycling have zero waste impact and zero gas emissions or anything harmful at all for the atmosphere. If the distances that should be covered are minor, it's a great opportunity to use your dusty bike (or feet of course) and commute. That way you also save money and have a bit of excersise in your day, creating a pleasant feeling.

If car commuting is anavoidable, then here is a good chance to connect with your coworkers. You can find a person that commutes to work by car too and join your forces, become superheroes and help saving the environment a bit everyday. As a result, you combine your transportation, save money because you will probably split the bill and enjoy your dull morning with chit chat and good company. Hopefully also a cup of hot coffee (or tea, whatever you prefer).

Another important option is public transport. As everything, this also has advantages and disadvantages. I can understand why not, a bit gross, smelly, too crowded and time consuming. However, this is your chance to lower your carbon footprint by not driving your car and you have time for yourself to grab a cup of coffee, listen to your music or read your book and maybe have a small talk or make a new friend, who knows? Give it a chance.

Using public transportation means multiple people can use the same vehicle instead of driving, although busses and trains create emissions, this is less than if all passengers were to drive.

8. Energy efficient houses

Beneficial both to you and the environment, greener houses are considered such an investment. Insulating your home, installing energy-saving windows and use a programmable thermostat for more efficient heating and cooling will keep warm during winter and save you a considerable amount of money. Energy-saving lightbulbs will also do the trick since they are eco-friendly and save energy. Last but not least, when you purchase a new domestic appliance, energy efficiency should be the priority.

9. Get educated

In our days, there is a variety of sources both online and written, regarding to ecological topics. The information is plenty and everywhere. You can find amplious books about environmental concience, how to shop and eat more sustainably, about leading in general a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle and mindset and much more. The same applies to documentaries. You can find numerous documentaries concerning nature, wildlife, global phenomenons, climate change etc. Even in Netflix, they have added docs about global warming and wildlife. The access is extremely easy and free for whoever is interested. It is essential though, to have certain knowledge about basic environmental things and maybe after educating ourselves we can finally move on to the next step, obtain greener concience and habits and evolve as human species.

Author: Alexandra Bakalianou


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