The “to-Do List” of Things to Stop Doing
Let’s be clear when we say “not to do anymore”, we must understand, “to temper or slow down considerably”. The consumer society has created a multitude of needs in our lives. The question today is whether or not we are strong enough to say “stop” or whether we prefer to continue to keep our blinders on, making us, in the end, selfish.
So, what do you think? Would you be willing to:
1. Eat less meat
The idea of becoming vegetarian, vegan, or vegetarian overnight puts the followers of these dietary practices directly in the extremist box. Imposing is not the right method. It is better to explain, to show, to repeat, rather than to impose.
In the case of meat, two factors come into play: pollution and animal suffering. Regarding pollution, it is essential to know that to produce one kilo of beef, the greenhouse gases emitted are equivalent to a 60 km car journey and require between 20 and 50 times more water than what is needed to produce one kilo of wheat or rice.
Regarding animal suffering, we have always been comforted that only cats, dogs, hamsters, rabbits, and birds were pets, worthy of having feelings. Other animals were considered wild and destined to be eaten, regardless of their age. But, unfortunately, we have to accept what we have on our plates to make a difference.
So, if eating meat is not vital, it may be that it remains unavoidable for reasons of terroir, roots, etc. The idea is not to eliminate it, but to consume less and better quality meat so that our food looks more like it should. At present, our children consume too much meat and proteins, according to a study conducted by Greenpeace and relayed by the Food Observatory. Our eating is no longer vital; it is a need created by the consumer society, thus generating a multitude of diseases—obesity and diabetes in particular.
2. Get rid of your car?
Sell your car and use public transportation. Could you do it? The vehicle is accused of releasing an average of 2.5 tons of CO2 per year. The proposed alternative solutions (hybrid cars, electric cars, etc.) are only a shadow of so-called “sustainable” vehicles. Ten years ago, almost half of the people said they were ready to leave the car in the garage. Today, the number of vehicles in the world is constantly increasing and is on the way to reaching 2 billion.
While the public transport craze still bothers some users, the government is not doing anything to reverse the trend. However, there are incentives to buy an electric bike or ride a bike to work every day!
3. Don’t take the plane anymore?
Flying is undeniably polluting. It would help if you only did national air travel in case of emergency. The idea of making airlines pay a pollution tax would be pure nonsense since, in the end, it would be passed on to the ticket price, and therefore to the consumer. So what to do? Ban them? Too many economic stakes… What if reason and common sense were finally enough to decide? Flying, yes, but not every day and not on national routes.
Flying is not only harmful. It can also motivate new experiences, such as discovering certain civilizations, visiting family, etc. Of course, it is sometimes possible to use other modes of transportation, more respectful of the planet.
But in some cases, the plane is almost unavoidable, like going to the other side of the planet. It’s all about balance. If you have to fly once a year, try to balance your carbon impact by eating less meat, driving less daily, or funding a tree-planting organization accordingly, for example.
4. Consume better?
This is the simplest effort to make and the starting point for taking a more ecological approach to our daily lives. Better consumption has repercussions on at least three factors: economic, environmental, and sanitary.
Consuming tomatoes in winter is not normal. Consuming products from Asia or Africa every day is not normal either. Of course, if you eat one pineapple a month, your impact will be almost zero. However, if you eat avocados at practically every meal, the consequences are not the same.
Eating local and in season does not prevent you from having a mango once in a while. But the idea is to favor the cycle of nature and consume what it offers us in real-time. It is also necessary to put on one’s apron, try recipes, and start cooking again to become aware of what we eat and eat better. Forget about overpriced, fatty, salty, and sweet prepared meals. Going back to basics is within everyone’s reach, even if you are not a cordon bleu and don’t necessarily have the time to cook elaborate meals.
Organic food is becoming more and more popular, but here again, be careful, not all labels are equal, and sometimes a vegetable grown by a market gardener near you without an organic label is often of better quality (and cheaper!) than a vegetable with an organic label sold in a supermarket.
Moreover, consuming food by limiting over-packaging is also beneficial. The hunt for single-use plastic is on, so why not use the many alternatives that exist today? Reusable bottles, food films with beeswax, washable paper towels… are habits to adopt to change things at home and thus have a less polluting impact on the planet.
As for non-food products, repairing rather than throwing away to buy again is also an option to be favored to make objects last in time and save money.
5. Downsizing your wardrobe?
The minimalist trend has followers all over the world. However, brands are still very much alive, even though some have very un-human practices to design their clothes (low wages, child labor, fur, dyes harmful to health, wastewater discharges into rivers, etc.). After the oil industry, the textile industry remains the most polluting in the world.
Some brands are now “green” and show their difference while following the fashion; they tempt fashionistas to jump the gun and assume their passion for ecology. Therefore, buying less and better is also valid for the dressing room.
6. Consume water sensibly
Taking a bath costs not only a lot of money but also wastes a lot of water. Showers are the best alternative for washing. Many tax credits or aids are now available for water heating retrofits. Thermodynamic water heaters, solar water heaters… allow real savings, quickly making the initial investment profitable.
Teaching children to turn off the tap while brushing their teeth or rubbing their hands is very easy, especially if you take the time to explain to them why you are doing it. Fortunately or unfortunately, the best (or worst) habits are formed and kept for life at a very young age. Think about it!
Thinking that abundance is unlimited is a utopia. Thinking that possessing something gives meaning to life is just as utopian. Consuming less, in general, is good for the planet, for the wallet, and people. So, what do you think? Would you be ready to make such changes in your life to save the planet?