Sustainability: Living Green

Nachhaltigkeit: Grüner leben im Alltag

Sustainability: Living Green

For more sustainability in Europe: On the 24th of October, the European Parliament voted in favour of a ban on disposable plastic. Many of us are already aware of the alarming amount of plastic in the sea. Nearly 13 million tons. This is not a nice sight even as a traveler, when the beaches are littered with plastic and scrap metal. Every single one of us can do something about it. And it’s not hard. In this post I would like to explain my reasons for a greener lifestyle and I will give you a few simple tips for a more sustainable everyday life.

My Motivation for going green

Surely some of you have noticed that recently I have been more and more concerned with sustainability. Whether it’s sustainability in everyday life, traveling, in my wardrobe, with food, in the bathroom or in the kitchen: I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos and documentaries, and read a few reports. The decision to change my thinking and behaviour, however, was inspired by the documentaries  Cowspiracy, The True Cost, and Earthlings (which I could barely watch it until the end, because it showed how cruel us humans can be). Little by little, a sustainability snowball is expanded with other topics like minimalism, fair fashion, second hand, zero waste and veganism. All these things try to cause less harm to the planet.

Before, like many others, I did not think much about the rubbish on the street. Of course I was upset, but even I didn’t pick it up. I packed vegetables and fruits in plastic bags. Purchased plastic dishes and cutlery for celebrations. I was also constantly shopping at fast fashion labels like H & M and Zara. But everyone starts somewhere, as you know, insight is the first way to recovery. Also, if you can’t implement sustainability in all areas of your life, every area that you CAN is worth a lot!

Tips for sustainability in your everyday life

Many people think that sustainability is difficult to implement in everyday life, e.g. because of a job or the family. But little things are easy to do even with everyday stress. Here are 10 easy tips to help you take the first step towards a greener lifestyle:

  1. Sorting rubbish properly: In order to be able to recycle plastic, metal, paper, glass and other valuable materials, they must be sorted correctly in the bins. The machines in the industrial recycling centres are already doing a very good job, but they can not do it all. So, for example, remove the yoghurt lid from the cup. In terms of organic waste – only food leftovers and plant materials go in your compost bin (hair and fingernails are okay, too) . No newspaper though, of course this belongs in your paper bin.
  2. Garbage collection: How often do we see public garbage cans, with rubbish everywhere but inside? You can dramatically help the environment by picking it up and putting it in there yourself. That way, plastic waste won’t make its way into rivers and ultimately, the ocean.
  3. Advertisements- no thanks: To avoid unnecessary paper waste, get a ”no junk mail” sticker for your letterbox. Say “No, thank you!” to flyers and advertisements.
  4. Shut electric power off when you don’t need it: Yes, even TV’s and computers on standby. It saves a lot of money and valuable resources.
  5. Used / Second Hand Shopping: Many electrical appliances or clothes are used by people only briefly or not at all and then they are disposed of. Help give these items a second home. You will find used items, for example, at flea markets, second hand/charity shops or Ebay.
  6. Do more cycling, walking or using public transport: Owning and running a car is one of your biggest monthly costs, reduce it by taking the train instead! With public transport the harmful CO2 emissions are far lower per person or even non existent. The Cologne public transport companies for example use electric buses on some routes.
  7. Grocery shopping: It’s hard, I know. In the supermarket, almost 80% of the things you want are packed in plastic. But every now and then things can be found in glass or in paper packaging, such as corn, pasta or chickpeas. Glass and paper have a higher recycling value than most plastics. And you can even re-use the glass containers at home!
  8. Don’t buy disposable plastic bags when shopping: Take your own canvas bags or backpack for shopping.
  9. Don’t use kitchen roll or paper tissues: If you need to wipe something away, use a tea towel. You can wash and re-use it, and you do not have to throw it away. Instead of disposable tissues, use handkerchiefs, which are washable (at least 60 degrees!) and will last for years.
  10. Shop local: Exotic fruits are delicious, but they are usually imported from thousands of miles away, which is not good for the climate. Pay attention to where your product comes from, preferably Germany (if you live here!), Europe is okay too. The less distance your item travels, the better.

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