What I know I don't know

We are a few months into our sustainability project, and I have learned a lot in that time. The most important lesson is probably that I know very little of what sustainability actually means. 

Sustainability defined

The straight forward definition according to Google, is:

- the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.
"the sustainability of economic growth"
- avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.
"the pursuit of global environmental sustainability"

So, the definition for me and my family would be:
- to keep our finances in order, save up and be mindful of not wasting money
- to do what we can to stay healthy and happy, both physically and mentally
- to make sure we make organic, durable, long lasting decisions for all our investments, big and small

A challenging commitment

And we are off to a fairly good start. It is challenging more or less every day, but just having made the commitment to ourselves makes us aware of what we buy, and if it is something that we need to have, or if it is only nice to have.

Some of the good things have been:
- I spend less money, because I consider every purchase before I buy
- I am considerably better at recycling
- I always look for organic/sustainable options before I buy

Some things that we struggle with:
- we throw away too much food
- we have really low quality kitchen appliances, that use way too much energy (thanks previous owners!)

Waste not, want not

An almost daily annoyance is the waste of food. So what I am trying to do, is plan my way out of it. I make a weekly meal plan, and try to reuse ingredients in the different dishes. When I look for recipes online I try to use the ones that calculate the amount you need of the different ingredients, and buy only as much as I need. It is a challenge though, because very often things are packed in bulk (Spring onion can apparently only be sold in packs of five!), and the bigger you buy, the cheaper it is. For a small family of three, buying in bulk isn't an option. And when there is only one person in the household that eats liver paté - and said person being the smallest one -  throwing some of it out on a weekly basis is almost impossible to avoid. Getting organic liver paté in smaller containers is not possible, as far as I know. But I am slowly getting better, and figuring out little hacks to avoid wasting food. Pro tip: don't go shopping on an empty stomach! It is not good for your wallet, your waste line or the environment...

Making a weekly meal plan, and buying smaller, might not save the planet by itself. But I recon every small step in the right direction, will get you to your goal in the end, and it is definitely worth a try. 

Waste no more

If you are thinking this week's blog post is about a new single from Faith No More, you'd be wrong, although this one is worth a listen! 

No, this week I want to talk about reducing waste, and the below tips are courtesy of The Danish Society for Nature Conservation, from their latest newsletter. 

How much?!

Each Dane throw away approximately 11,4 kg rubbish per week. More than half of that end up in the furnace and go up in smoke, according to the Danish Environmental Protection Agency.

A better use of the resources is to sort and recycle the waste.

But you can also start beforehand and be mindful of what you buy and how much of it will end as waste in the end.

10 tips for reducing waste in your home

  1. Buy quality
    You might have to pay a bit more, but a quality product lasts longer. Every time something new is produced, it takes water and resources that release CO2. It takes 1400 liters of water to produce a new t-shirt. That's more than 10 filled bathtubs! The CO2 discharge from producing a Danes average use of textiles, is the same as driving 2143 km in a car. So, for every year you use your clothes you save money and reduce CO2. When buying bigger things like furniture or vehicles the savings on the CO2-account is equivalently bigger.
  2. Only buy things you need
    Consider your need before you buy. Is it something you need, or something you want? Try to think ahead with your purchases: will you still want the fur lined winter coat next year? Will you get tired of a yellow bag?
  3. Fix things
    When you buy quality it is usually cheaper to fix things than to buy new.
  4. Secondhand 
    Buy secondhand. Search for secondhand stores close to where you live, or shop online. If you have bought something that didn't fit after all, sell it rather than throwing it out. Use a fabric tote for your shopping rather than buying plastic bags.
  5. Borrow or swap
    If you only need something for a short period of time it is better to borrow, e.g. if you have children, are throwing a party or traveling. There are plenty of Facebook groups where you can borrow things, or you can borrow from or swap with friends. Rent books, e-books, music and films at the library, or online.
  6. Buy things that don't result in waste
    Experiences are good gifts, buy reusable water bottles, bring your own jug when you want a coffee to-go, buy a normal razor rather than the plastic ones. If you have children avoid using throw away cloths and bibs, and rather use cotton versions that can be washed in the machine. Also consider cloth diapers.
  7. Buy products without packaging
    Avoid food and other products with unnecessary packaging. Be aware though, that with fruit and vegetables the packaging often has an important function: to keep the food fresh. For instance, a banana stays fresh for 2-4 weeks in a thin plastic bag, compared to a week unwrapped.
  8. Use reusable containers
    Pack food in lunchboxes rather than plastic bags. Don't use tinfoil, but sustainable sandwich paper, or reusable boxes.
  9. Avoid wasting food
    Make a meal plan for the week and use what you already have as a starting point. Use your leftovers. Don't buy in bulk unless you need to. Keep the food you need to eat first at the front of the fridge. Freeze leftovers for another day.
  10. Opt out of physical products
    Say no thanks to printed ads. Use electronic mail for important papers from the bank and government. Read books and papers, as well as buy music and films, digitally.

Do you have any other tips for reducing waste in our everyday lives?