I’m not a saint. I do my ‘fair’ share of contributing to environmental pollution. But as a vegetarian (part-time vegan) and nature lover I try and do my best to keep my ecological footprint to a minimum. When I was thirteen I read a book by Per Nilsson, in which a kid committed suicide because he was convinced this was the only way to save the environment. I feel this is ‘a little’ drastic, but I do remember it making a big impact on me. And there are a lot less drastic ways to take care of our planet. Or at least minimize the impact your behavior and habits have on our planet. From Monday to Sunday, here are seven ways to reduce a bad impact on the environment.
I know a lot of people love their meat, but the amount of meat and dairy we consume is huge and pretty disastrous for the environment. The numbers are mind-blowing! Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy and water. The meat and dairy industry causes more damage to the environment than all types the of transport (cars, planes, boats) combined! If you’re not ready to become a vegan or vegetarian, then start with one meat-free day a week. It will make a big difference.
We produce approximately 2 kilograms (4.3 pounds) of trash on a daily basis. Recycling is the least we can do to try and make up for all this waste. Recycling can be a bit of a hassle, but is doesn’t have to be. Ikea has these amazing recycling bins that help us separate our garbage. There are four bins in our pantry: one for glass, one for paper, one for plastic and one for waste. The little green bin on top is for organic waste. We have a large bin in the garden, but this small one is easy to put in the sink while we are cooking.
With a toddler in the house we have at least seven full washing machines every week. We try to minimize the damage by using the ‘Eco option’ on our washing machine. Find that button! (And use it.) It’s also on your dishwasher. Another way to save energy (and money) is by hanging your clothes to dry instead of putting them in the dryer. I have to admit my wife is way more consistent when it comes to this, because I love how easy and quick a dryer is. But it saves a lot of energy.
I live in Dutchieland and we Dutchies, we love our bikes. And by we, I mean the real Dutchies, not me. I only learned how to ride a bike when I was fourteen years old and I still prefer walking or driving (read sitting in) a car. But it is so much better for the environment (and your health) to ride a bike instead of taking the car. If you can’t ride a bike where you live, then look into carpooling options. Public transport is also a less invasive option.
Apart from eating less meat, eating your leftovers is a great way to minimize your ecological footprint. We throw so much food away (about 1.3 billion tonnes), even though millions of people are starving. Buy consciously, plan meals, store leftovers in the fridge and eat them within the next couple of days. Other food related tips are: buy locally produced fruits and vegetables (at your local farmers market) and choose organic if you can. You can even bring you own Tupperware so your veggies don’t need to be wrapped in plastic or paper.
We started using eco- friendly cleaning products when I was pregnant with Isaya. There is a huge variety in price when it comes to conscious cleaning, but we have found out that all of them work perfectly well – also the cheaper ones. We now use ecological products for cleaning our hands, clothes, dishes, windows, floors and bathroom. I feel a lot better knowing the damage to the environment and our own immediate health is diminished by using these products.
Stand by Sunday
Another thing my wife reminds me on a daily basis: to unplug. It saves a lot of energy and money. So make it part of your morning and evening routine to really turn off your electronics. Other great energy saving tips are: lower your thermostat (or AC), take shorter showers (I. Just. Can’t.) Buy wooden toys for your kids, instead of plastic, use energy saving lamps, defrost your fridge regularly, look into the possibilities of renewable energy for your home and buy energy efficient appliances when it’s time to invest in new ones.