According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), we throw away a third of all produced food. About 1.3 billion tonnes of food waste ends up rotting in the trash of consumers, retailers and even suppliers each year. There is so much that every single one of us must do to benefit the planet with just a few simple lifestyle changes and upgrades in our consumer behaviour. But it’s sometimes hard to find the right place to begin and easy to lose focus. So, bear with us while we try to organize (y)our efforts!
Saving water matters enormously. This might surprise this of us living in the industrialized world, with fresh drinking water at our disposal. But a mere 3% of the world’s water is drinkable, and that includes the fresh water frozen in Antarctica, the Arctic and glaciers! So fresh water is actually a rarity. People have created a phenomenon called “global water stress”: we keep polluting and using water in larger quantities and faster than nature can recycle and purify it in rivers and lakes. That’s why preventing water waste was #1 on our list of ways to reduce your ecological footprint.
All of us need to reduce our energy consumption: private households consume 29% of all global energy and contribute to 21% of the resulting CO2 emissions. Electricity doesn’t just appear from your power outlet out of nowhere. It needs to be “produced,” and therefore should be viewed as any other product that is consumed. Turn your lights off when you leave the room: unplug your devices instead of just having them eat up your energy in standby mode; leave your clothes out to dry instead of powering the dryer every time. We can and must do better.
The UN Environment Programme says “while substantial environmental impacts from food occur in the production phase (agriculture, food processing), households influence these impacts through their dietary choices and habits.”
We can’t stress this enough: your dietary choices and habits literally change the world. Of course it is important to watch the amount of food that you waste in your household and how you dispose of it. But it is also important to watch what you buy for your household to begin with.
A sustainable diet, meaning a vegan (or at least vegetarian) diet, helps solve the big problems facing us as a society and species: land degradation, declining soil fertility, unsustainable water use and overfishing are serious man-made issues facing us and our planet.
The food sector accounts for about 30% of global total energy consumption, with most of it going to animal agriculture. World hunger, clean water, the climate emergency and your own personal health gain from eliminating or at least reducing the amount of animal products you consume. Which is why this topic is not only near and dear to our hearts, but also takes up a prominent place on the list of the UN’s sustainable development goals. They even called out a “Decade of Action on Nutrition”.
When buying food in tins and cans, you’re choosing sustainable packaging – so why not choose sustainable packaging for your body, too?! Second-hand clothes are like metal packaging: they stay in the material loop and prevent the excessive consumption of raw materials like energy or water. So, if possible, buy your clothes second hand. Most of these clothes are as good as new and they are a lot cheaper than in the fast fashion stores!