The other day I shared a post on a study of carbon emissions, showing us that the little thing don’t matter if you don’t do the big things. But that is not the complete truth. The little things matter less for global warming through global emissions of CO2, but it matters in other ways. Our environment still care. Plastic for example is still harmful for us as people, for animals as litter, for lakes as litter and microbes. Production of cotton and food is still plagued by pesticides harming both environment and people. Forests, seas, land, animal and people are still harmed by the way we live, carbon emissions or not. That’s why the little things matter. That is why I continue to care about sustainability, and know I can make an impact through my tiny eco steps.
There is an infinite amount of way to limit your impact on the environment. The never-ending question is of course how effective the alternatives are. Can you really make a difference?
I constantly wonder how my actions affect the environment. Does it matter that I didn’t recycle that thing properly? Does it make a difference that if I buy ecological or not that time? Infinite questions.
This is going to be long, but stay tuned! It’s important!
This june a study was published in IOP science, based on other studies, reports and recommendations in an attempt to determine which every-day actions are the most effective to reduce greenhouse gas emission.
They recommended four so called high impact actions.
Having one fewer child. Every year this would lessen a person’s impact with 58.6 tonnes CO2.
I don’t think I’m ready to consider this but that is one HUGE number to be sure. When looking into this, it is counted on each parent being responsible for half of the children’s future CO2 impact based on current numbers, plus a fourth of the grandchildrens emission etc. Thus, in theory this could be much less by teaching your children to live more environmentally friendly (if they never had a car either this number would be much lower for example). Buy removing national emission this should also be 17 times lower according to the study.
Living car free. Each year this would save 2.4 tonnes CO2 every year.
Woho! I score in this department! But I don’t know how borrowing a car time to time affects this number. Anyhow, it’s counted from the amount counts production, maintenance and fuel. This clearly show that reducing our transportation habits would make a huge difference – from catching the train, to walking or car-pooling.
Avoiding airplane travel. For every transatlantic roundtrip it saves 1.6 tonnes CO2.
Not all flight as transatlantic and probably lots shorter in time which would limit its effect. So lets say 1 tonne CO2 per roundtrip in general. Problem is, this means you probably choose other alternatives and thus affect in some regards.
Another challenge to this is that it is pretty much expected that you will travel by plane for your vacation. It’s seen as some everyday luxury that you can fly away for that awesome vacation. The challenge here is to change the common idea of vacation and moving it closer to home or by getting there by train.
Eating a plant based diet. Each year this saves about 0.8 tonnes CO2.
This compared to a meat diet counting emissions from fertilizers, livestock and transportation. I guess I am saving up fairly good in that department, and Nikki even more so. I still use dairy products and such, which I should make an effort to transition from to minimize emissions.
In the study they compare this with things such as recycling which is apparently four times less effective than removing meat from your diet. There goes that hope. Keep in mind though that even though recycling might not have the biggest CARBON impact it can matter a lot in the amount that is unnecessarily burned or the amount that is successfully reused. That in itself is a victory, carbon footprint or not. Still, it is staggering that the tiny steps I try to take matters very little if I don’t do the big stuff.
My carbon footprint
As I’ve understood from the study one individual need to limit their yearly emission to under 2.1 tonnes CO2 if we are to reach the goal of keeping climate change at 2 degrees. Thus, you can eat meat and fly one time a year and then use nothing more – no car, no children, no lights or any products. Or you could use a car, and then use nothing more. Or you could have a child, and then you can do nothing more for your entire life that has any emissions. You get the picture.
So to keep within limits, I would choose not to fly. For vacation I would probably take a car instead, but rented and shared with at least four people – so say that’s at least half of the emission saved. And no meat, but still daiary (let say I save half of it), while keeping recycling and choosing the right light bulbs. So in theory, I could minimise my carbon footprint with 0.4 +1.6 + 1.2 + 0.3 = 3.5 tonnes per year. That is at least pretty impressive, and probably means that I’m under the necessary emission levels. So that is something to aim for.
.. but what about the little thing?
Using a tote bag, recycling, choosing better materials, re-using clothes, minimizing my shopping. Does it matter? I guess not if you don’t do the big stuff. It doesn’t matter how many of the little stuff you do if the big stuff is still done. If I keep flying my imprint is just too huge for recycling to matter. That kind of sucks. Like it’s all a waste to try.
But it should be the opposite – it means we know that we have to focus on the big stuff. If we start there, all the little things will come to matter too. If I don’t fly or use a car and can eat plant based at the same time, the little things start to matter too. This just means that I know where to start.
And mind you, the little steps matter in other ways to. They are important for a sustainable world in many ways, just not the most effective to limit carbon emissions.
Another period-related tiny step I´ve taken is using a cup. And I don’t think I can say enough kind things about it. I´m using it as I write and it is simply so easy.
I saw an article the other day that a normal pad contains the same amount of plastic as 3 or 4 plastic bags. I didn’t look into it so I don´t know the sources, but there is for sure a fair bit of plastic in them. Along with other materials, and blood of course, making it hard to recycle. Thats pure waste when we have good alternatives: cloth pads.
I think the largest objections I’ve meet when speaking about cloth pads is that is outside your body and gets a bit gross. This then is the same people that wouldn’t wear a regular pad either since it’s outside the body. I´ve always found tampons scary – it’s a bit of treated cotton you put inside you. I hate the feeling – when it’s full it swells and becomes really uncomfortable. When its not full enough it’s hard to get it out because it’s all dry. And when you put it in its all dry aswell, making it less than comfortable.
This is where cups win. They are neither dry or super heavy. They are easy to get in a variation perfect for your vagina – small or large, hard or soft, tall or short. I find them super easy to put in, and they are more comfortable to keep in there – I don’t feel them at all. Plus, I can take it out anytime without any harm.
Plus, the optimal worth of course: they can be reused for several years. No more buying tampons and throwing used one out – creating even more waste. It feels more sustainable since it’s something I know creates less waste. Also, having something that is reused and last a long time feels awesome in it self. And that feeling is great. Not only can I be comfortable during my period, but I can feel that I’m actively minimising my environmental footprint every day.
Every time I go visit my parents, who live on the opposite side of Stockholm from me, my mother offers to pick me up at the train. A super kind gesture. Often I say I’ll just walk- it takes less than 30 min- or take the bus – about 10 min. But sometimes I accept, because I’m hungry, or tired, or have a heavy bag. I need to stop that. Yeasterday she offered again, because it’s raining. I sort of want to say yes – but really so can take the bus and walk a few minutes in warm rain. No biggie.
Everytime I take up her offer actually matter since it’s one extra start up and a few extra kilometres that wasn’t needed. So from today I will truly attempt to never be picked up or take the car if it can be avoided. If it is possible, I will solve it with a walk, a bus or a bike ride. Bye bye unnecessary car ride! Hello pretty walk in the rain 🙂
Today we visited the amazing Carrières de lumières. If you are ever in southern France, visit it. And if you’re not, youtube it. It was truly amazing and almost overwhelming.
Afterwards we strolled through Le Village which is located right next to it. There we found this beauty. Fresh fruit is generally in abundance here, unlike home, but look at those cups! It’s cardboard and not plastic! I was overjoyed!
The sign said rawfood and stuff to but I didn’t try any of that as we walked on with our fresh lemonades. Thought the village they also had other wonderful sustainable products, sush as unpacked and locally produced soap, fresh and local olive oil, ketchup and jam in glas jars. It was adorable and really nice. And it gave me renewed energy to search for fresh and local products at home – from veggies to bread, oil and candy.
It was an awesome day and I really wanted to share this small sustainable joy 🙂
..and it gives me more faith in a sustainable city. Recycle through someone is both recycling and supportive – unlike throwing it in the bin. Good work local city planing – and keep it up! 🙂
Today we met up around 10 am and shopped bulkfoods at Paradiset, Swedens’ biggest ecological food store.
I had written a draft of food recipes that we will try to make during our Zero- Wasting challenge.
Sweet potato soup with seed crispbread, chili and lentil stew with rice, pesto pasta, zucchini moussaka and more. When you are zero- wasting you can’t buy lentils in a plastic bag, so we took all of our glass jars and hopped our way to the bulkshelves.
We came out of the store with rice, pasta, seedmixes, oats, lentils, almonds, walnuts and medijool dates.
The cashier was very friendly and interested in our challenge, but she told us that many people make their own small bags out of kitchen towels etc instead of using the paperbags they offer at the bulk station. I had packed my backpack full with glass jars in different sizes and Erika had a tote bag full of them with her. Well, we have for sure learned something new today. Don’t drag a ton of glass jars with you when you could just bring some fabric.
After our shopping tour we headed to Erika’s place and had some sushi for lunchmade our own toothpaste and deodorant.
1,5 tbs baking soda
3 tbs coconut oil
20 drops essential oil
Mix all ingredients together.
3 tbs coconut oil
2 tbs baking soda
2 tbs cornstarch
Mix all ingredients together to a thick paste.
Do I have to buy specific products – like only glass?
Or do I look at how long it travelled to get here, and try just to shop near-produced?
Do I prioritize raw food and avoid long processes that demand a lot of energy?
Do I only buy recycled stuff and nothing new?
Does it mean re-suing until everything is broken before I get something new?
Does it mean that I should grow as much as possible at home?
Or is it sorting my garbage and recycling?
Is it always taking the train and bus instead of car and plane?
Do I avoid plastic or do I just recycle it carefully?
Is it to always turn of the light and tv and stuff or do I try to avoid it overall?
There are so many things I keep asking myself what the best solution is. And add to that the social aspect: growing cotton, picking fruits, sewing clothes – all those industries can be awful and I should opt for the better alternatives. But it is such a maze! Where does one even start?