80% of the Dutch people said that they would love to live more sustainably, but don’t know how to do so. That’s a very big part of our small country, and I can imagine those numbers are not only relevant for us in The Netherlands. I have noticed a tendency in our western society, in which people are becoming more and more aware of their own impact on the world. And they want to live more consciously and more sustainable. That’s amazing.
And you are one of them, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. So first of all, I want to tell you: you’re doing great and thank you for joining in. Together we are stronger; together is better than alone.
So before we move on, I also want to make a disclaimer. The tips I’ll be providing in this article are not some magical tips that will save the world. I want to believe in an ideal world where there’s zero waste, mindful consumption and no exploitation of animals or humans. But hey, let’s get real, that won’t happen overnight. So let’s focus on the things we can change immediately and with only a small amount of effort. Because that’s who we are, people that want the most, with the least of effort. 😉
“Gemak dient de mens”that’s what we say in Dutch.
My 10 realistic and practical tips for a sustainable lifestyle:
- Category FOOD
1. Buy enough food, but not too much.
Does that sound hard to you? Actually this requires some practice, but after a few weeks you’re a master. Consider what you’re going to eat for the next couple of days, or even the whole week if you’re very professional. Then buy only that what you need, no bullshit, no snacks and no things that will rotten within a couple of hours if you first need it by the end of the week. This method saves you a lot of money too, and most often it’s also much healthier, because you only buy what you need, which doesn’t include crisps. 😉
2. Box up all leftover food.
After cooking just box up everything you have left over, even if it’s just a tiny bit and not enough for a proper portion. You can eat it as a snack when you’re craving something but don’t need a whole meal. Also in restaurants, ask to bring the leftover food with you. I’ve worked in many restaurants, it’s not weird to ask, it’s actually a compliment that the food is too good to let go! Then put the boxes into the fridge, or in the freezer if you’re not going to eat it within 7 days.
3 Smell before throwing out.
How can you tell the food you boxed up is still good? Use your nose. For example you bought milk and the package says “best before yesterday”, it’s probably still good today. Don’t throw it away before you’ve smelled it. Also when you boxed up something yourself, it’s probably still good after four days or even more. Just smell. And when the smell is good but you’re still a little unsure, cook it again for a significant longer time, to kill any bad bacteria. Of course you have to be careful with some foods, but if you’re eating plant based, most of the time you’ll be okay eating “older” food.
4. Empty opened food first.
Another thing to keep in mind to reduce the chances of food being thrown away, you should empty opened packages first, before opening a new one. You don’t need to have three bottles of ketchup opened in the fridge.
So conclusion: All the food you bring into your house, may not be thrown away.
- Category TRAVELLING
5. Consider public transport.
Okay this may sound like an open door, but it’s a very important one. How useless it feels to sit alone in your car stuck in the traffic jam, that’s how useless it also really is. So check out the options you have when you’d take the train or bus. Most of the time it’s not more expensive, nor does it take more time.
6. Don’t buy a car.
I know, I know, a car is part of our identity, it’s part of our status, but try to escape the system. You probably don’t need one; there are so many options to share a car or to rent one. And the car industry is bad. Actually every word on which you can add industry is bad. Make-up industry, food industry, fashion industry… So support the small businesses, like your small second hand bike seller in town!
- Category FASHION
7. Buy out of need instead of boredom.
I wouldn’t be Alexandra without mentioning this category. First of all, don’t go shopping to fill up time. You probably don’t need any clothes, you probably have enough to keep yourself warm for the next 12 years 😉 So instead find out the things you like and do that. Walk in the sun when there’s sun. Go dancing, also in your living room. Start painting. Start a project. There are so many things to do, also when you don’t like reading.
8. Buy second hand.
Even when you do need something, it’s probably available second hand, whether it’s online or in store. Just look for those options. It’s not dirty or low class to buy second hand. You will probably find some hidden gems for a fair price instead.
- Category BATHROOM
9. Switch from bottled soap to soap bars.
The bottles are made from plastic and you just use them for a short time before throwing them away. So instead you can switch to soap bars, which come in paper or no package at all. If you need some inspiration on where to find them, check out my friend’s page loofys for some zero waste bathroom inspiration.
10. Showers don’t need to take half an hour.
I love showering as well. Warm and cosy, the smell of soap, the water damp on the mirror. But let’s be honest, most of the time you’re just standing there for 20 minutes, contemplating life. Skip that part and fully enjoy your ten-minutes-shower instead. The contemplating you can save for later.
I hope this was helpful. If you have some practical and realistic tips yourself, let me know in the comments! Thank you for making a difference.