The more greenhouse gases emit into our atmosphere, the warmer the Earth becomes. This is not a novel insight; the issue is brought up every day in print and online media. But how does our lifestyle influence these harmful emissions? How can each one of us reduce CO2, methane and nitrous oxide emissions and live as sustainably as possible? These tips will help you achieve this.
Sustainable living and furnishing
Saving electricity is good for resources, your bank account and the environment. When energy is generated from fossil fuels, i.e. non-renewable energy sources such as gas, oil or coal, it takes a heavy toll on the environment. That is why there is a goal to switch to 100% renewable energy sources such as electricity from wind farms or solar power. However, the proportion of energy generated in Switzerland from renewable sources is currently only 23%. By installing their own solar panels, homeowners can boost this quota and supply their own, completely sustainable energy. Despite the high purchase costs of these solar modules, the investment is certainly worthwhile as the costs are paid off over the years and subsidies are also provided.
Besides this, there are of course many little tricks you can do every day to save energy and thus conserve resources. For example, look for the energy efficiency label when buying electronic goods: equipment with a high efficiency rating (A+ or higher) is indeed more expensive but uses less power, making the purchase worthwhile as it is paid off in the long run due to lower electricity costs. You can also save energy by always keeping the heating at a reasonable and not-too-high temperature of around 21 degrees Celsius, or by using kitchen appliances in the most energy-saving and efficient way possible when cooking. You can discover how to do this and other tricks for energy-saving living in our blog post about saving energy.
While furniture from discount stores is cheap, it is often not produced in a sustainable way and has a short life span due to the poor quality, which means that you will need to buy a replacement after just a few years. If you instead invest in a product, such as a desk, that, although expensive, is made from regional materials and is of good quality, it can be used for longer and you also avoid the CO2 emissions generated by a long transport route for wood from distant countries. If you also look for the FSC label when buying, you can be sure that the wood comes from responsible production.
Consuming and buying sustainably
Conscious consumer behaviour helps lower greenhouse gas emissions by, for example, using as many reusable products as possible. If you always have a fabric bag with you, you can do away with plastic bags for the trip home when you make those impulse purchases. If you have your own coffee mug, you can save countless paper cups in one year that you would otherwise have used for your morning coffee on the way to work. The longer products are used, the better the use of the materials and the outlay required for their production and the less they are wasted. This is how you can save on costs and resources in the long term and produce less waste.
Buying and consuming food also presents many possibilities for optimisation in order to save waste – and resources. Here’s an idea: at the beginning of the week, plan what you want to cook and eat during that week. If you go to the supermarket with a plan and only buy the things you really need, you won’t have leftover food at the end of the week that needs to be thrown away. Something that is good to know: even if the best before date has been reached, most food will still keep for a few more days and doesn’t need to end up in the bin straight away. If yoghurt still smells and looks normal, it can be eaten without any worry.
Here is another important point when choosing food: the consumption of beef involves vast quantities of harmful emissions. This is due to the fact that cows naturally emit a lot of methane, a greenhouse gas, and because rearing animals involves a lot of resources such as water or hay for fodder. So, it is no surprise that the amount of CO2 for each kg of beef is 15.4 kg. The figures also look similar for other types of meat. In comparison, tofu is less than 1 kg. This is why it makes sense to reduce meat consumption and explains why it has a positive impact on the environment. Even incorporating a meat-free day into your week helps – try out new vegetarian dishes and alternatives – it’ll be very easy after a while. It also pays to be mindful when it comes to vegetarian dishes: it is a good idea to keep seasonality in mind when buying fruit and vegetables. Seasonal products involve much fewer CO2 emissions than products that need to be grown in a heated greenhouse.
If you start following these guidelines (supply of sustainable energy and economical use of electricity, using furniture and other products for as long as possible and conscious food shopping), we will be a lot closer to the goal of reducing CO2 emissions and living sustainably. Which idea are you going to try out first?