Sustainability is on the agenda. And why is that? We know that our lifestyle has a direct impact on the climate. Our consumption habits have been causing changes in the way our planet behaves, with direct consequences on our lives.
Etymologically, the word sustainable originates from the Latin word sustentare, which means "to sustain", "to support" and "to conserve". Thus, we can say that to be sustainable is to support and conserve our common home, our planet, its resources, for the preservation of life on earth.
It may seem a difficult and unattainable practice, but we know that it is in the small daily actions that the difference lies. In other words, we don't need big manifestos or transcendent transformations, we need our two hands and good will.
Let's translate that to the terrain of concrete actions, how do we become sustainable in our daily lives? We don't want them to be difficult demands to make and lead to giving up. They are simple practices that are easy to maintain and give enormous satisfaction and results.
Eat local food
Whether we are in Europe, Africa or Brazil, there are foods specific to each geography, suited to the climate, adapted to the needs of the population. For this reason, it is more ecological to choose what is available within a radius of 500 km, for example, than to eat food that has travelled thousands of kilometers to reach your plate. What we guarantee when we choose local food is that the environmental costs of transporting and storing it are minimized.
Eating seasonal food
With new technologies for farming, we have access to all kinds of vegetables and fruits all year round. But that doesn't mean they are the best choice. We should opt for seasonal foods, which are harvested at their time, as they have numerous benefits for your health and your household budget.
Choosing foods in season is being sustainable and healthy. Seasonal vegetables and fruit are those that ripen naturally on the trees and in the soil and are harvested at the right time, so they are more nutritious, tasty and juicy.
Nature has its own rhythm and has reasons to provide us with some foods at sometimes of the year (fruit, for example) and not others. Seasonal food is also less expensive to produce and store and this means savings for the environment and for your wallet.
Cooking our own food
Being a hands-on cook is not for everyone. But even for those who are not good with knives and pans, there are many cooking courses we can take to increase our skills and home-cook delicacies to the delight of ourselves and our guests. Cooking at home has many advantages as, apart from being able to control the ingredients we are eating, we are producing less waste. Ordering food implies packaging (often plastic) and the travel of a vehicle to our house. Buying food in bulk also has advantages because we reduce the number of packages that enter our homes.
We may think that if we recycle all the rubbish we produce, it's already a big step. And it is, if you consider that many people still don't separate their rubbish - for lack of motivation, or for lack of a recycling bin near their homes. But separation is not always done in the best way, and recycling also has its environmental costs. Recycling programs, while commendable and constantly evolving, where they exist often only capture a minority of recyclable goods that people throw away.
For those who already separate waste, and want to go further, using less plastic is a solution. Less waste, better planet.
Using cloth shopping bags instead of plastic or paper bags in shops is a very simple idea and already adopted by many. Use washable cloth towels for cleaning and drying instead of paper towels. Use cloth nappies instead of disposable nappies - this is an ambitious step, but our parents and grandparents have always done it, without complaint!
The average household can produce a staggering amount of waste every year. By choosing kitchen towels instead of paper towels and reusable water bottles instead of disposable water bottles, you reduce your waste production by several kilos per week. So simple!
Less cars, more bikes and walking
Although the electric vehicle market is growing fast, there are still many fossil fuel-powered vehicles in circulation. This transition takes time, and the production of these eco-friendly vehicles also has its carbon footprint, let's not forget that. Until we are all driving electric vehicles, one way to be more sustainable is to use environmentally friendly vehicles. In this article we give two classic examples: the bicycle and the legs. In other words, instead of inventing the wheel with highly technological instruments, let's use what has been around for a long time and is well done. The bicycle is undoubtedly a vehicle of choice when we are on the road to a more sustainable planet. In many cities there is a growing network of cycle paths, prepared to receive cyclists safely. In places where there are no bicycle lanes yet, roads should increasingly become a space where motorists, motorcyclists and cyclists live together in a civilized manner.
Even if we have not yet taken this step of circulating by bicycle, let us be motorists who respect those who use ecological means of circulation. Regarding legs, if there is no impediment to their use, they are by excellence the perfectly designed means to move around. For many, it is already common practice - walking, hiking, jogging. For those who haven't yet explored, through lack of habit, this natural resource, our suggestion is to start with the basics: small daily trips, easy to do: go to the grocery store on foot, walk the dog a little further, go to the coffee, walk to work - preferably if you're not working from home!