“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” – Dalai Lama. Whenever I feel defeated by the news and the state of our planet I think of this quote. Because even though I eat fully vegan and I try to inspire you to eat (more) plant-based, I still feel defeated sometimes. How can we be more sustainable in 2021?
– HOW TO BE MORE SUSTAINABLE –
EAT (MORE) PLANT-BASED
Diets rich in animal products require more energy from fossil fuels, more land and more water to produce compared to plant-based diets. In general, a (more) plant-based diet is better for the environment.
Eating a (more) plant-diet does make a difference. A simple Google search will tell you how much CO2-equivalent per kg is required for your food. For example, meat generates a high quantity of greenhouse gases (GHGs) compared to fruits, peas, wheat and nuts.
Next time when you think your small daily choices don’t make a difference consider this: it takes around 25 servings of vegetables to meet the same emissions as 1 serving of beef. This is a big difference in emissions and it’s totally worth it to opt (more often) for a plant-based diet.
This source also shows just how beneficial it can be to switch to a (more) plant-based diet. Food emissions can be reduced by as much as 73% (depending where you live). Our diet is a very effective way to reduce our carbon footprint.
EAT LOCAL & SEASONAL
A plant-based diet does not always equal sustainability though. It is a good idea to consider how your food is being transported. If your tropical fruit and veggies are air-transported it can create more greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram than necessary.
If it’s possible, consider where your food is coming from and how it was transported.
In line with the above, I personally think it’s not necessary to consume an avocado every day. Avocados require a huge amount of water. During warmer months, one avocado tree uses a lot of gallons of water every single day to thrive. And these trees are almost always in regions such as Peru and Mexico where a good amount of water is used for just one crop.
When I throw away food, I’m actually throwing away natural resources. Worldwide food waste is a big concern. All that produced food is wasted. I once read that if food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses (after the USA and China).
If you can, buy what you need and freeze anything you can freeze (that’s more than you think). You can freeze stews, herbs, bread, and fruit (juice). And if you can, compost any leftovers.
HAVE A LOOK AT YOUR BANK
Your finances may not be the first thing you think about, but this small change can have a big impact.
If you make sure your bank is not investing in fossil-fuel companies, you are making a daily change without actively doing anything. There are a lot of greener bank options these days.
VOTE WITH YOUR WALLET
We vote with our wallet. What we spend our money on has a big impact how the world looks like.
Consumers are getting more aware and are more concerned for the environment. As a result, companies are looking for natural resources to decrease the carbon emissions and reduce the negative impact on the environment.
Banque Raiffeisen is an example as an ethical and responsible bank. Banque Raiffeisen was established in Luxembourg in 1925, and is the first cooperative bank.
In 2021 they established a partnership with Hëllef fir d’Natur from natur & ëmwelt and Friendship Luxembourg.
With this collaboration you can plant a tree. All you have to do is use the Banque Raiffeisen Visa card to pay. It doesn’t matter what you pay for. The sustainable Visa cards (unique in Luxembourg) are a way to raise awareness and fight against the damaging effects of climate change. By using this card you plant trees in Luxembourg and Bangladesh.
200 transactions = Banque Raiffeisen plants 1 tree in Luxembourg or Bangladesh.
Deforestation (removal of rain forest or trees from land to convert it to a non-forest use) is high on the agenda of the environmentally-conscious, because it has a greater impact even than global warming. A (more) plant-based diet (so less deforested land is needed to use for livestock) and planting more trees are valid and sustainable counter-reactions to that. The main reason for that is that trees have a crucial role when it comes to removing CO2. Trees supply us with oxygen, but also help to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The more trees we have and plant, the more help we have in reducing our overall emissions.
OTHER SMALL (BUT BIG) CHANGES
If you are like me an avid reader, it’s worth considering switching to a digital way to purchase and read books. I buy a lot of books and when I moved, I was shocked to realize not just the sheer amount of the paper I had collected over the years, but also taking into consideration the packing and shipping of all of these books. Some books, such as text books and cookbooks are just better printed, but the vast majority can be easily read on a digital device.
If you don’t have a Kindle, Kobo or don’t want to invest in an eReader, consider using an iPad (if you have one). And if you are reluctant to buy e-books you can use the app Libby to digitally browse and borrow books via your local library.
A small habit which doesn’t cost me any effort is to always take a reusable-bag with me. It’s almost impossible to avoid all (micro) plastic, because plastic is literally in almost everything. Plastic has become a part of our world and even our food, but small choices such as skipping food packed in plastic can make a difference.
WHEN WE KNOW BETTER, WE TEND TO DO BETTER
Personally, I find it important to educate myself on this topic. You can find plenty of books, news sources and documentaries on the topic climate crisis.
When you know what is actually going on you can make better smaller and/or bigger choices. The last two documentaries I have seen on this topic are Seaspiracy (Netflix) and David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (Netflix).
I’m aware it takes a lot more than our small daily changes and we need world leaders and big corporations to take action too. But think of a snowball effect. Whether you choose to plant a tree with your Visa card, waste less food or decide to go (fully) plant-based, you are voting and giving out a message to the world. We can do better if we are all in this together.
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