Growing up in the suburbs of Zurich, Switzerland my parents made sure their three sons would spend more time playing outside than in front of a screen. What used to make it difficult to keep up with the coolest peers, is probably one of the reasons why I find myself today being an environment enthusiast.
I call myself an enthusiast since I have not studied environmental science like my older brother, nor become a gardener like my little brother, but still care about nature. As an elementary school teacher and stage actor, I somewhat study human behavior and interact with the next generation. One working field highly motivates me to make an effort toward sustainable development. The other mainly shows me, why we put our profit and comfort before long term nature preservation goals.
Over the past years, I adapted and incorporated new habits and ways to my day to day life, which I consider less harmful to the environment. Such as:
a) going most places (job, studies, hobbies) by bike, foot or using public transport
b) sharing a flat with two roommates
c) taking only cold showers
d) using bio-degradable washing-up liquid, shampoo, and laundry detergent
e) growing some herbs, fruit, and vegetables in our garden
f) being part of a vegetable growing community nearby
g) eating mostly local, seasonal, naturally grown food
h) sticking to a vegan diet
i) cooking and baking dishes from scratch
j) keeping track of the dates of expiry, not letting things go bad
k) shaving with an old school straight razor blade
l) buying clothes and other goods second hand
m) washing most cloths low temperature after wearing them more than once
n) avoiding products from most huge companies and other irresponsible sources
o) fixing broken things myself as much as possible
p) borrowing tools, books, costumes, etc. from friends, instead of buying and storing them
q) taking part in flea markets and garage sales, or
r) giving away stuff I need no more for free to people to reuse it
s) recycling and composting consequently
t) turning off lights, unplugging power cords, and shutting down devices whenever possible
u) buying long-lasting, high-quality products and keeping them forever
v) wearing a sweater inside the house instead of heating more during winter
w) traveling by plane as rarely as possible and no more than once a year
x) offsetting my carbon footprint by compensating my travels
y) donating to organizations like WWF, Greenpeace, SumOfUs, Avaaz, etc.
z) exchanging thoughts and information with like- and unlike-minded people
A lot of people already know, how they could become an eco-friendlier version of themselves. We (yes, I must include myself) just often lack pressure to put it into action. A more interesting question is, WHY I started doing these things. Saying “I’m ready to give up some comfort in order to save life on earth” makes me sound like a selfless nerd nobody can relate to. In fact, some of my motivation for these actions is quite self-interested and self-serving. My mainsprings can be classified into four categories. I changed my habits, either because….
1) I see a major positive impact on the environment,
2) it makes me happy to do what seems right to me,
3) it is cheaper, or
4) I want to prove to myself that I can do it.
I added the categories to my actions starting with the most present one. Let me explain my thoughts on the first example: a) Since I get grumpy if I don’t move enough, biking to work is just the right thing to do (2) and important to me. I do think, if most people would do so, there would be a significant impact on the environment (1). The fact that I save some money (3) not possessing a car and not spending much on public transport is a nice side effect. Finally, when it is raining cats and dogs, I must go 15km and I still would not allow myself to take the train, I feel pretty badass (4).
Looking through the list again I remember each effort it took me to make it a habit of mine. Whenever I feel at my best, I add a new “planet-saving” action to my daily life. And whenever I am miserable, I just want to let go of this aggravating charge. There is more than an unexplainable intrinsic motivation that keeps me going. It is the air I am breathing right now that makes me want to pollute less. The food I eat makes me want to avoid pesticides and drinking water reminds me of how my shopping bag finds its way back to me in shape of microplastic. What more do I need? I do not wait until necessary actions are forced by law. I found reasons for myself to start the change right this moment. Have you?