Reduce our footprint?

Reduce our footprint? Reduce waste? Reduce spillage?

We have to admit, we are not holier than the pope, and certainly not the best role models to be preaching footprint reduction, but hey, we hope writing this article might just inspire some of you to do at least something!

Our latest travels, but also my recently discovered passion for diving, have made us more aware about the fact that we are screwing-up our beautiful planet at such a speed, that sometimes I believe we will still experience it to melt down.

Plastics are everywhere: coffee cups at work, meat and fish are wrapped in it in the fresh corner of your supermarket, soft drinks, water and milk are bottled in it, fruits and vegetables used to weigh and carry them home. There is almost a different kind of plastic for each one of them. At the end of the day you literally have a bag full of none reusable plastics. Of course criticasters will say, a large part is recycled and re-used. This might be true but the bad thing is, as everyone knows, is that they don’t perish and stay in our eco system for a zillion years when they are just thrown away. Other plastics, of which we are maybe less aware, are in shower gels, scrubs and toothpastes. They enter our drinking water system or our oceans and are hard or impossible to filter out.  We drink them and fish eat them and we eat fish…

Our list of, maybe small, improvements:

  • We use durable water bottles to fill at the water fountain at work, we use them when going on a trip and even at home.
  • For soft drinks and milk we returned to glass bottles
  • We use re-usable shopping bags, you can fold into a pocket and keep with you easily
  • Recently we bought re-usable light weight bags to buy fruits and vegetables in the supermarket

Paper and carton are very often used as packaging material, for advertisements, paper tissues, and toilet paper. Paper perhaps might be somehow less aggressive than plastic but it still means cutting trees, which are vital to our environment.

Things we did and do are:

  • A sign on our letterbox, which says ‘No Advertisement’
  • No paper newspapers or magazines
  • Toilet paper from recycled paper
  • No paper but cotton handkerchief
  • Unsubscribe from personalized paper advertisements

Water is the new gold. Visiting some places where potable water was not such a matter of course accelerated our change towards the usage of water. Not every-one has the luxury to have drinkable water just from the tap. Here in western Europe we use drinkable water to wash ourselves, wash clothes, do the dishes, wash the care, flush the toilet, water the garden. We use drinkable water for everything. And that really is a shame.

Our list of improvements is still too small in this area:

  • Take more showers than baths (we have a large bathtub which is always tempting when you want to relax)
  • Only fill the bathtub halfway, there is still plenty of water left
  • Share the bath with my wife, which can be relaxing and even romantic [Symbol]
  • Fill the washing machine completely and not let it work for only a couple of clothes
  • Fill the dishwasher completely and don’t let it run for just a few pieces of cutlery
  • Use a pressure washer to clean the car, terrace and dogs kennel

Probably some of you will think you can do more! And you’re right, that’s why we will continue to look for small and sometimes bigger things that can have a positive impact on our environment. We even welcome you to share your tips, maybe we can learn from each other. Others might find al this ‘think about nature’ just a way to get some attention and that’s a ‘hype’, which will blow over.

Honestly? I think we all need to start at least sweeping before our own door in order to turn things around. We have to turn our ‘consume and throw away society’ into a ‘use, share and re-use’ society because the earths natural resources are not unlimited. There is only so much it can take and we think we are near it’s limits.

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