IPPC published its climate report this week, and this week’s news has been all about it. It is hard and scary to read that we only have like twelve years to stop the global climate warning not reaching to the two degrees. The action needs to be taken now, and we all need to do something. But sometimes I feel hopeless. In the mornings when I have read all the news about climate change, I have been thinking, what I could do more. When walking on the street I look around those busy people passing by with their plastic smoothie cups in their hands and then I saw rubbish on the street, and I feel hopeless. We are the western people and we should know it better. And at the same time I am busy too and hungry, it would be tempting to buy green smoothie, I need energy! Anyway, does it really matter what I do in a big picture? Does it really matter my little sustainable choices that I try to make, when the oceans are full of plastic, in the other side of the world people are working in bad working condition and out planet’s carrying capacity is about to collapse?
Well, does it matter?
As I talk to my husband, he is underlining that if we really wanted to live according to sustainable values, we would be living like his best friend in Brittany. He is living without electricity, in a minimalist way, he doesn’t consume hardly anything, he buys his food from food market and from locals and he is recycling or reusing everything. Only a few of us could live like this. I mean think about: warming your place every day, going to a cold shower and doing your needs to a bucket. Still, I really admire this person, I am proud of that we have chance to call him as a friend. He is a role model, and I don’t know anyone who is living like he does.
Anyway, I still want to believe, that it does matter what you and I do in every day level. And I do want to write about our sustainable lifestyle that we try to put in practice in our everyday life. You must have notice that this blog is about sustainable lifestyle and good life, right? So tips are coming now too, because we need action. Normally different reports and medias lists three categories that we can start doing changes and minimize our carbon footprint. These categories are: our eating habits, reducing taking a plane and paying attention to our consumer habits. Here are my tips for minimizing carbon footprint in each category. Yes, they are easy on paper, but not so easy put in the action.
Reduce eating meat
It is a meatless October (at least here in Finland), it is a perfect excuse to stop eating meat for a month at least. Participate a challenge and find your support group on Facebook, if you feel like it is easier when you share your results with others.
Start with little steps. For example, if you eat meat three times a week, start replace one meal with vegetarian food. Make it a habit.
Try new vegetarian recipes and try to replace meat with vegetarian substitute. Try to make a lasagna with vegetables only, for example! In the best case you will get excited to try new recipes and learning to make more sustainable meals. This is what happened to me, when I started to be vegetarian three years ago.
Do you have kids? Tell them to about why it is important to reduce eating meat. Do you have little kids? Think about, is it really necessary to start learning them to eat meat in weekly base.
This is a hard one! I mean would you say no to a summer holiday in a warm destination or weekend in Rome? Probably not. And I cannot blame you. Discovering new places is broadening and you always learn and experience something new. But you know the truth: taking a plane is a bad for the planet and it is raising our carbon footprint. Of course you can buy yourself better conscience by living more sustainable way in your everyday life, but the best solution is to minimize your flying trips.
My solution: try to think in a new way. Is it really necessary to fly for this city holiday for just a couple of days? Is it really recuperative after all? Think about how tired you will be on Sunday evening when you are returning home after a weekend trip. Think about all the time wasted when getting to an airport, waiting in lines and so on.
If you are traveling a lot, stop to think: why am I doing this? What is it that I am not happy about my every day life where I am? Is it possible to move to another country or start looking your environment with new eyes?
I surely do know what I am writing about. We just moved back to my cold and dark home country from sunny and warm Spain. I could start booking flights to a warmer destination, but instead of doing that, I want to travel near by and get to know my county better.
If you traveling for a work, think if you can replace some of the flying and meetings by just making a Skype connection.
Remember: you can always compensate your carbon footprint by paying an extra flight fee for example here.
Change your consumption habits
This action we can take immediately. Think, what you really need. Try to find other solutions for buying, like borrowing books, tools and clothes from your friends or neighbors. And what goes on fashion and decoration trends, stop following them, and get out to be a fashion victim – it is not fashionable at all! You must know that fashion industry is one of the polluting industry in the world. When a shirt costs ten euros, you can be sure that it hasn’t been made in an ethical or environmental friendly factory.
So what should you do? Buy clothes on occasion, and buy only quality clothes that are made near and with natural fibers. Buy only for the need and ask your self every time: am I going to use this for another ten years? (Or like me: when I am a grandmother.) The best solution would be not to buy at all, and use the clothes that you already have.
Summary: Take care of the clothes you have and try to prolong their lifespan.
What goes on grocery shopping, avoid buying food that are packed in plastic (definitely not easy here in Finland).
Try to buy local and seasonal food and buy food on food markets, if possible.
Buy only food what you need and just a little at time (if you have chance to go to a super market often) and try to minimize food waste.
Carry a fabric bag with you.
Protect and be active!
Protect forests; they are important carbon throat for cleaning the air from carbon dioxide. Stop taking free distributions, read your magazines in your nearest library or if you buy them, change magazines with your friends. This is one way to safe money, too!
Support environmental groups.
Alongside our daily decisions towards sustainable living, we need more rapid action from a political level in global and in local basis to guide us to make better choices that are necessary to take in a long run.
Meanwhile, start doing something today, pick up a trash from the street or avoid buying that smoothie in a plastic cup. The important thing is that you start consciously think about your daily actions and what you could do more, because it does matter.
We can do this!