Author: Rosa Bertram
In a world that is getting hotter and hotter than we would like, it is only logical to live more consciously. How? It can be as big or small as you want it to be. Even the seemingly smallest choices on a daily basis help reduce your - and thus the collective - ecological footprint. Do you have to give up everything for that? Certainly not. Having a conscious and sustainable lifestyle is incredibly enjoyable, and it brings you many new insights and possibilities in return. Let's read on.
Nomad, adventurer, and author Rosa Bertram shares the conscious choices she makes at home and while traveling.
Living sustainably: how to do it?
The global temperature is rising in a rapid speed, and biodiversity is shrinking. With all the consequences that come with it. We are experiencing more extreme weather conditions (heavy storms and extreme heat, leading to more wildfires), and more and more species (including ourselves in the long run...) are threatened with extinction. A planet that is too hot, will become increasingly uninhabitable.
That is why companies must reduce their CO2 emissions, and we ourselves must contribute to that. Every choice contributes to it, no matter how small it may seem.
The food industry (especially meat and dairy) is by far the biggest polluter. This is due to the CO2 emissions associated with livestock farming, water consumption, food, and transportation. That makes your choices regarding food the easiest and most effective way to reduce your footprint.
I personally follow the 80-20 rule. This means that I eat 80% plant-based, but sometimes I decide to eat differently. If I impose something on myself not to do, I can think of nothing else but to do it. So, I sometimes eat meat and fish when I know where it comes from and make a conscious choice, not because I don't know what else to eat.
My diet at home is plant-based; I eat a lot of different kinds of foods, buy organic fruits and vegetables where possible (since I spend a lot of time in Portugal, I can easily find delicious local produce from nearby farmers), and I also like to have a vegetable garden. Vegetables or fruits in plastic packaging from the supermarket? I skip those because they often mean they are out of season and need to be transported from afar.
A deliciously elaborate chia pudding in the morning and a brunch full of vegetables, nuts, and legumes are my go-to dishes.
The fashion industry is #2 when it comes to polluting the planet, making your clothing choices an effective way to reduce your personal footprint.
I try to make my clothing purchases as sustainable as possible, choosing natural materials (I mean, a linen blouse is much more comfortable than a synthetic one) and mostly shopping second-hand. So your clothes are unique, and there is already so much beautiful, high-quality clothing made, why buy everything new? Here, too, I apply the 80-20 rule.
Although travelling is often thought to be mainly polluting (you have to move around), you can make conscious and sustainable choices in the way you travel. In my book 'De magie van reizen', I write about how travelling generally makes you a more conscious person (those who spend a lot of time in nature find it harder to make a decision that will pollute the earth even more), but also how you don't have to fly to the other side of the world to relax or immerse yourself in adventure and nature.
In Europe, travel opportunities and new cultures are abundant. Road tripping, hitchhiking, and slow travel are, for example, my favourite ways to travel. When travelling, I always make sure to support local businesses (go to local markets instead of large supermarket chains) and prefer to stay at a guesthouse run by a local family rather than at hotel chains. Also, the mode of transportation can be made more sustainable. I love going on a road trip or try to go on weekly micro-adventures, camping in my car near home (because: why not?). Adventure is everywhere; you just have to be willing to see it.
I love natural skin products, if only for the beautiful bottles and fine products they contain. Did you know that many 'regular' skincare products often contain toxic substances that your skin (also our largest organ!) absorbs? Moreover, most brands are not vegan or animal friendly.
Fortunately, there are more and more transparent and sustainable brands that make the finest skincare products with natural ingredients. Those are mostly made locally, not tested on animals, and do not contain any animal products. My favourite day cream is natural, vegan, has SPF, and a tint, from the Dutch brand ‘Witlof’. This way, you don't have to carry many products, especially handy when you're on the go a lot!
You don't have to live carbon-neutral to make an effort and contribute to a better environment. Every sustainable and conscious choice that you make, is a step in the right direction.