Sustainability in everyday life - It's our own choice
When it comes to the topic of sustainability, responsibility is often shifted onto consumers. We are told to buy less, fly less, drive less and eat less meat, while little is done in politics or by large corporations. Shouldn't they be the ones responsible instead of us?
In fact, this question is not so easy to answer. Of course, it's up to politicians and companies to find sustainable solutions, use fewer resources and reduce CO₂ emissions. Nevertheless, we too can make our contribution. Ultimately, it is our consumption behavior and our demand that determine supply. And as with everything else, when it comes to sustainable consumption, change starts with us.
Sustainable consumption starts with you
We live in a world that is focused on consumption. Day after day, we are bombarded with advertisements designed to entice us to buy more than we really need. The tenth pair of sneakers, the latest smartphone - even if we actually know better, we often find it difficult to change our behavior in everyday life.
Can I myself really make a difference? Why should I do without when everyone else is carrying on as before? In fact, mindful consumption starts with each and every one of us.
But you don't have to change your entire life in order to live sustainably. Even small changes can make a big difference. What you do can inspire others and even impact local commerce.
For example, "Zero Waste" has been trending for a few years now. Zero Waste is a sustainable movement that's all about avoiding waste by shopping package-free whenever possible (and making things yourself instead of buying them). The movement has led to package free grocery stores popping up in many cities. Some Zero Waste fans have asked their local supermarkets if they can buy their deli items in Tupperware they brought themselves. Lo and behold, some stores have actually gone to the trouble of finding a solution that meets both hygiene standards and customer preferences and have started allowing their customers to buy cold cuts and cheese entirely without plastic wrap. This small example shows that it is quite possible to make a difference, even if it is only in our small, local environment.
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Consuming mindfully - where does my product come from?
Sustainability in everyday life means to realize that resources are needed for every new part that is produced, and that these resources are finite. Have you ever asked yourself where the material for your vegan sneakers comes from and under what conditions it is obtained? When buying sustainable products, it's also worth taking a closer look, because what says sustainable on the label, it doesn't necessarily mean that it is truly sustainable
Yoga mats made of natural latex, for example, are often advertised as sustainable yoga mats. But what exactly does that mean?
Natural latex is a fast-growing raw material and can be recycled. However, latex is often grown in monocultures in Southeast Asia, which leads to the deforestation of native forests and the destruction of biodiversity
Hemp for textiles is also often produced in Asia. True, hemp is an incredibly great and versatile material. But if it has to be transported all the way to Europe first, how sustainable is it really? As you can see, sustainable living goes far beyond choosing the right material.
Shopping locally, regionally and seasonally
We are accustomed to having everything in abundance and available for purchase at any time of the year. Coffee from Peru, potatoes from Israel and kiwis from New Zealand - yet food from overseas is actually one of the biggest climate killers, as it has to travel long distances. By buying locally, you're not only protecting the environment; you're also buying naturally ripened, seasonal foods that have more vitamins and nutrients. This supports farmers and businesses in your region while promoting short supply chains.
Shopping locally and regionally doesn't only make sense for food, but for many other consumer goods as well. For example, instead of ordering everything from big internet platforms, you can support local retailers, making sure that the little store around the corner will still exist in a few years. Instead of buying products that are produced under questionable conditions Overseas, you can specifically buy products that have been produced under fair and sustainable conditions in your own country or region.
You have the choice
It's your choice. You alone decide what you buy and who you support with your purchases. With our consumption behavior, we always make a decision for or against the environment. So how about we all start with ourselves and change a little bit, and by doing that, we change a lot together?