Last August I decided to try and constantly challenge myself with the credo ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. Because I’m on a personal mission to help accelerate the transition to a more sustainable world, I have reviewed my life and made some changes.
I travel by train as much as possible and convenient. As I am in the fortunate situation to drive a brand new, leased, hybrid BMW it’s very easy for me to drive my car for any short or longer distances. Combined with the fact that the car is paid for by my employer who is, understandably, not very happy for me leave the car standing in front of my house and have him pay for my train tickets. 'But, I want to make a difference, I want to contribute to a more sustainable world. Should I return the car and travel everywhere with public transport? We have 3 small children, how do we then visit family, how do we bring them to daycare? And, how do I visit our clients who are all over the country, and not always in close proximity to a train station?'
So, I decided to buy a reduced travel card for out of hours train travel, I try to plan my meetings at such times I won’t have to travel during peak hours. When I need to bring or pick up the kids, I take the car or, I cycle and then take the train. I don’t travel if I don’t have to. And I carpool with colleagues when we’re going to the same location, we work or chat in the car together. And I've come up with the idea to rent out the car at times when I don't need it (snappcar, mywheels). To people who are not in the fortunate situation where they have a choice. People who, at that moment, need a car more than I do. It saves money, it saves cars (if they can use mine, they don’t have to buy their own), it saves fuel. It saves the environment.
When I am meeting someone, for coffee or lunch, I always suggest to sit at ‘UitJeEigenStad’. This is a restaurant close to my home, they have a local farm in the city and they serve homemade food with ingredients from that farm. Everything they serve besides the food is also locally sourced. And, I've been a vegetarian since I was teenager.
Recently my grandmother passed away, I've inherited her wardrobe. Yes, most of her clothes are old school and outdated, but they are also very durable and retro (Thriftshop - Macklemore) 😉 Since I started wearing her cashmere sweaters I have not been cold, and I have received several compliments about the shearling coat I took from her collection. For the children, I combine hand-me-downs from friends with green and honest label clothes (Waschbär, Ekodepeko) And I give away all the clothes they’ve grown out of to others with small children.
We have a learning thermostat (Nest) in our home, it switches off automatically when we’re not there, or when everyone is asleep. We switch off all devices when they are not in use, no standby mode. We do not leave our phones or laptops to charge indefinitely, we check if they are full and disconnect the charger from the socket. We do not have a doorbell (ooh that’s a silent energy guzzler; always on standby for that once a week someone’s at the door. We have a small home so a knock suffices) Of course we have LED lighting, we cook electric, I make notes in a correct book or with evernote on my computer. I own a keep cup for on the go coffee and a durable bottle for water.
Yes, these are small actions, and on the scale of things they might not make much difference, but they do make a difference in my life and the lives of our children. These are conscious choices to not look to the outside world for change but to take responsibility. By constantly thinking about the choices you make the chance you make a sustainable one increases. The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.