On the one hand, many people see themselves as nature-loving and environmentally conscious people. Some countries have modern climate legislation with ambitious goals as fossil-free transport sector and fossil-free goals. At the same time, developed countries have large carbon footprints.
Forest fires, heat records and harvest crisis. This year’s summer has put the climate and sustainability in focus and the understanding has increased that there is nothing happening in the periphery or in the future. This is a blog post about what you can do for the climate. That changes must now be a fact.
Of course, it is great that we minimize food waste, lower indoor temperature, sort sources, ship disposable items, change to LED lamps, use fabric bags and climate compensate our air travel. But it is not the measures that save the planet. This is not where the big benefits for the climate are. Unfortunately. I promise you, I also wish it were that simple.
A single flight can “erase” 20 years of nitic source sorting. A single flight to Thailand from Europe emits the equivalent of 2.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to that of an ordinary car emitting for a whole year. We need to get down to about 1 (!) Tonnes of carbon dioxide per year per person to cope with climate change. Then you understand that we have little to work with.
But what can you do then? There are plenty that may at first appear like great sacrifices, but which for many are already everyday and they can become that for you. Here are 10 tips on what you can do to live more sustainably for real:
1. Minimize flying
One of the most important things you can do is change your flight habits, both privately and in your work.. Book web conferences instead of always meeting physically, and choose closer destinations for the annual holiday. Let air travel be something really special and luxurious. Just as it was just 20 years ago. Of course, the best thing is to skip the flight completely. There are lots of beautiful places to discover without taking the plane. And you, few things last forever, it might go flying with good conscience in the future with fossil-free aviation fuel.
2. Reduce car driving.
It is not primarily about what fuel you use, but about what car you have. We cannot buy environmentally friendly cars in the belief that we can then consume more energy with good conscience. See the car as the comfortable luxury it really is and choose more environmentally friendly alternatives such as trains, buses and bicycles as often as you can. Maybe you can work from home one day a week with the argument that it’s better for the environment (and your stress level)? Do you push the children to activities, preschool/school, can parents take turns strolling with the children or can you cohabit?
3. Eat more vegetarian.
The negative environmental impact of the meat is mainly that cattle emit large amounts of methane, which is an even worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Meat production also requires large amounts of water, fertilizers and feed, and is an inefficient way of feeding a large population. Eat vegetarian and some fish as a basis and luxury to it with Swedish nature beetles on more festive occasions if you must.
4. Buy renewable energy.
By purchasing renewable energy you have a lower climate impact because it does not add any new carbon dioxide to the atmosphere when it is used. It may sound awkward to have to change electricity companies, for example, but today you can do it in a quarter. You are a google search away from having renewable electricity and/or heating.
5. Consume less.
We stress and work hard to make money in order to consume clothes and gadgets. And then we have a hard time getting rid of the things that take our time, money and energy. And we weren’t happier by that either. Fashion must become a long-term and more sustainable, so-called slow fashion.
6. Buy second hand.
Buy clothes and things that someone else may not have or have tired of and let your things that are not used find new owners. Swap, donate or sell items you don’t use. It may take some patience to buy second hand but the win is lower cost and less environmental impact. When you extend the life of garments, energy, chemicals and water are saved. And you, kids don’t care if something lacks store slip or original cardboard.
7. Stress less.
When we become stressed, the least possible resistance team begins to apply and we take shortcuts. We take the car when we could walk or cycle from a distance. We roast ready-made meatballs and fast-food macarons so we don’t have the energy or time to break habits and cook a new vegetarian dinner. And we stress jump less thoughtful things in an effort to cushion the stress. Or fly far away to finally be able to relax and unwind as far away from everyday life as possible. Stress is not good for those who want a sustainable lifestyle. Or for the climate
8. Be more satisfied.
In today’s society, we are teased early on not being satisfied, striving for more and better. Consume more, travel more, do more. The freedom of choice and the opportunity to do “everything”, combined with the fact that we can see what others have and do via social media, create dissatisfaction with what one has.
Because you can always have more and better. But you can train yourself to be happy with what you have instead of sighing for what you don’t have. Long-term happiness is something you create within yourself, not with external attributes or experiences. If you become more satisfied with what you have, your climate impact will most likely be reduced.
9. Inspire others.
The social change and lifestyle change we need to make in the coming years seems to scare a lot of people, which is why we do not talk about it. Politicians hardly dare to address the issue of fear of decisions that restrict individual freedom. We need more inspirers and role models at the individual level, and more who talk about what you can do and what you do yourself.
Not least for politicians to understand that we as a society are prepared to make the change needed for our children and grandchildren to have a planet to live on, but that we then need help with structural changes in society.
10. Have fewer children.
Studies have shown that not having children is the single biggest sacrifice you can make for the climate. Greater than refraining from air travel, car trips or meat. When something as basic as reproduction is considered a climate hazard, then it is a serious signal of how unsustainable our lifestyle is. Sure, children are the source of happiness for many, and so for us, but who says that more children would lead to greater happiness? We simply cannot help raising so many children and, as in point eight, be more happy.
But where to start then? Just as with minimalism and dieting we think you should start where the threshold feels reasonably low or where you have a certain commitment and motivation. If you like cooking vegetarian and organic food may feel like a fun challenge. If you have just become a parent you may be able to buy more second hand, organic and less stress. If you need to take a look at your health, you might want to leave the car more often and eat more green. It may also be the economy that is heading in the wrong direction and that you therefore choose to shop less, buy second hand, be more satisfied and leave the car more often. Of course, it also depends on where you are on the sustainability ladder today, both practically and mentally.
Another way to attack the points is to test for one month. A vegetarian month. One car-free month. A shopping-free month, etc. Maybe you succeed in establishing new habits and realize that it was not that difficult.