EARTH DAY 2023 – 22 tips for more sustainability in your everyday life
On April 22nd is EARTH DAY!
Earth Day is an opportunity for all of us to question our ecological actions and initiate changes. Since it was first celebrated in the United States in 1970, Earth Day has become a global event. On this day, over 200 million people in 150 countries are raising awareness with various campaigns. However, Earth Day is less about political actions that are taken and more about what each one of us can do for the environment to improve our ecological footprint. It's about small changes of many individuals that can make a big difference. It's about always trying new things. It's about openness, acceptance and inspiration - for the benefit of our planet.
We at BEARTH would like to give you 22 tips on how to live more sustainably in everyday life. Here we go!
Garden & Balcony
- Bee and bird friendly garden
Monocultures are not sustainable and damage flora and fauna in the long run. Have a wild meadow instead: let the meadow and wildflowers grow instead of removing or trimming it. Longer grass attracts animals and insects. Birds love a variety of nesting and food sources, and different species of bugs and insects also find shelter in a colorful garden. Anyone who is bothered by the idea of a large wild meadow can also create a wild flower bed. Not only is this exceptionally aesthetic and provides a great source for unique wildflower bouquets, but it also attracts bees. They enjoy nectar-rich plants such as wild marjoram, lavender, cornflowers or meadow sage.
Interested? With the search engine of your choice, you will find many more suggestions and tips on how to create a bird and beefriendly environment.
- Own vegetable and fruit cultivation
A balcony or garden offers a great opportunity to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs. Strawberries, salad, zucchini, carrots, peppermint, rosemary and much more are particularly suitable for beginners.
One of the many advantages of home-grown fruit and vegetables is that you not only know where they come from and can go for environmentally friendly fertilizers but you also avoid long transport routes and unnecessary plastic waste. As part of your vegetable cultivation, it makes sense to create a compost heap. A compost heap is your own biological mini-recycling plant, on which you can dispose of all your organic waste, and at the same time build a refuge for a wide variety of bugs, centipedes, insects, hedgehogs and other native animal species.
Many practical tips for growing vegetables at home can be found in the new hands-on newsletter "Ran ans Gemüse" from our partner Acker eV.
- Responsible use of water
When it comes to water always try to: conserve resources, reuse and avoid waste. Climate change and the resulting periods of drought make it necessary to water your own garden manually more and more often. The following rules apply: the larger the garden, the greater the water requirement. This is a problem because water is a scarce resource and currently over 25 % of the world's population does not have access to safe drinking water. It is therefore important that we use the water that is available to us carefully and responsibly.Watch out: At midday, over 90 % of the water we use to irrigate the plants evaporates. In addition, midday watering increases the risk of damaging the plants in the watering process. Water droplets on the leaves act like magnifying glasses, the sun's rays are bundled and hit the leaves with increased intensity.
It´s easy to reduce water consumption just by following a few rules.
Therefore, various environmental and plant protection organizations recommend watering in the early hours of the morning. That means before or at sunrise. The cool earth, leaves and outside temperature as well as the lower intensity of sun rays reduce the evaporation of the water a lot.
Use a rain barrel
Using a rain barrel to collect rainwater is a great alternative to tap water. It does not only contain less limestone, but it also saves resources and is a source of water for animals living in the garden.
Reuse cooking water
Store left over potato and pasta water: Instead of pouring it down the drain after cooking, you can collect it in a bucket and use it for irrigation. The cooking water is rich in minerals and therefore an ideal natural fertilizer for vegetable beds.
Avoid pesticides and artificial fertilizers
Pesticides and toxins are harmful to humans, livestock, the soil and pollute the groundwater. Therefore it makes sense to use sustainable alternatives such as old cooking water, coffee ground, banana peels or compost.
Shopping and Nutrition
- Sustainable coffee consumption
Attention coffee fans: the cultivation, transport and preparation of coffee consumes a large amount of water and the carbon dioxide emissions are high. In addition, coffee pad machines produce a big amount of waste. According to the WWF, 200 liters of water are needed for every single cup of coffee.
You can find out here how you can make your coffee consumption more sustainable:
There are a few companies that offer coffee that has been transported to Europe on a sailing ship, which means that the carbon dioxide-heavy container ship transport has been avoided. For example, the "Segelkaffee" from Koffiemann. In any case, it is worth choosing sustainable products when buying.
- If you want to do without packaging waste , coffee shops or zero waste stores are happy to fill coffee beans into your own containers. Optionally, it makes sense to use regional coffee alternatives. By consuming lupine or malt coffee, the long transport route and the associated water consumption and carbon dioxide emissions can be avoided. You can find lupine and malt coffee in some supermarkets and organic shops in your area. If you don't want to change the coffee brand and neither try regional alternatives, you can still make your coffee consumption more sustainable by using waste-saving methods of preparation, such as an Italian espresso maker (Moka), a French press or a stainless steel coffee filter.
- The Veggie Choice
Sustainability starts on the plate. Did you know that over 50 % of global carbon dioxide emissions derive from animal farming? Changing your diet is not easy. Therefore it can be helpful to reflect your habits and to try new plant-based or vegetarian recipes on some days of the week. By deliberately avoiding animal products, carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced in the long term. If you don't want to do without meat, you might return to the old idea of the Sunday roast. Otherwise, you can find a variety of delicious alternative products from the veggie shelf. These are not only better for the environment, but also good for animal welfare.
It is also worth taking a look at the seasonal calendar. Buying regionally grown food supports local agriculture and thus also reduces carbon dioxide emissions.
Rhubarb, asparagus, leek and spinach the right choice in April. How about a homemade rhubarb spritzer or rhubarb pastry? Or what about a salad with young baby spinach or a spinach lasagna? Eating seasonally can be fun because you always have the opportunity to try out new recipe ideas that can be prepared with the available fruit and vegetable assortment.
- Food saving for Dummies
Welthungerhilfe writes that in Germany alone, over 11 million tons of food are thrown away every year. What a waste! Especially since most of the food thrown away is still edible and in good condition. What can you do?
Online portals such as Foodsharing and associated Facebook groups enable the redistribution of food that would otherwise end up in the trash. Have a look and see what you can save in your area.
In addition to foodsharing, "Too Good To Go" is an excellent app to explore. With the help of this app, restaurants, bakeries and supermarkets can offer groceries and leftover food at a low price. This saves a variety of goods from being thrown away.
- Preserving and/or reusing food
Eating leftovers doesn't have to be boring! You can create a delicious meal with leftover food. For example, you can make rice cakes out of rice, eat it with soup or prepare a sweet apple and cinnamon rice casserole. And there are also great ideas for recycling other leftovers. With a few short keywords you may find suggestions in every search engine.
- Shopping? - Not without my BEARTH canvas bag!
If you want to avoid plastic and paper waste, it is a good idea to take your bags with you when you go shopping. These crocheted companions not only look fresh, but have more stability than thin plastic or paper bags. In addition to this they can be reused and washed if they ever get dirty. Thus it makes sense to take a jute bag or a canvas bag with you for shopping. On one hand, this is a great storage and transport option for your shopping nets, on the other hand, you don't have to buy a new shopping bag at the checkout and avoid unnecessary plastic or paper waste.
Not to forget: Many jute bags or canvas bags look really stylish and show others more about your way of life and your attitude. Click here for the BEARTH canvas bag.
Clothing as a Sustainability Statement
- Capsule wardrobe
The idea of the Capsule Wardrobe is to establish a closet filled with high-quality, durable products that can be easily combined with one another. It is designed to discourage constant re-buying and reduce susceptibility to seasonal product lines. The Capsule Wardrobe is based on the motto “Simplicity. Versatility. Cohesion. Quality.” and wants to encourage a more conscious approach to clothing. If you want to learn more about the concept of the capsule wardrobe, you find more information in our blog post about it here .
- Second hand clothing
Buying clothes second-hand means saving resources that would otherwise be needed for production and long transport routes. In addition, reusing clothes is a conscious statement against fast-fashion labels and our throwaway mentality. Second-hand and online shops offer a wide range of products that inspire new styling ideas. Browsing through second-hand shops in your town, enjoying the rustic atmosphere while listening to the 90s playlist in the background can be a real experience. Give it a try!
If you don't have the time or motivation to drive into town, but you urgently need new clothes and want to do without fast-fashion products, go and visit online shops such as Vestiaire Collective, Mädchenflehmarkt or Vinted, which give used clothes a new home.
- Sustainable fashion labels
Sustainable fashion labels are characterized by a fully documented, ecologically and socially sustainable production, transport and sales process. Compliance with sustainability standards ensures a significant improvement regarding the carbon footprint, waste generation and working conditions in production facilities. You can recognize slow fashion labels through different certifications, such as the GOTS seal, which identifies fashion that has been produced sustainably.
The commitment to sustainability while at the same time focusing on fashion is the central part of BEARTH . Here, particular importance is attached to a transparent, green production and supply chain. If you want to find out more about their sustainable fashion collection, you will find more information about production, materials, certification and other on the website under the heading "sustainability".
- Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
An important claim is: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Think carefully about whether you really need the new garment and reduce your purchases by consciously selecting high-quality, durable fashion with a timeless design.
Give old clothes away, organize clothing swap parties or shop in second-hand stores. And last but not least - Recycle: Bring your clothes back into the circular economy for example by re-selling them on a second-hand platform. Repurpose fashion items by sewing new clothes from old ones or by processing them into sustainable cotton pads, table runners etc.
Order and Cleanliness
- Wash and dishwash sustainably
When doing laundry or dishwashing, always try to fill the machine correctly and completely. It is not particularly sustainable to fill the machine only by ¼ or ½. Professional washing and dishwashing can significantly reduce water and energy consumption.
- Washing Fluids and Cleaning Agents
According to the Federal Environment Agency, 1.5 million tons of Washing Fluids (which include detergents, fabric softener as well as bleach) and cleaning agents are sold to private households every year. As a result, more and more chemicals such as fragrances, phosphonates and optical brighteners find their way into wastewater. Next time you wash, try using a little less detergent. As soon as your washing fluid is empty, consider whether you could imagine switching to bio-based fluids, which only contain plant-based surfactants, are easily degradable and particularly kind to the skin. The following brands, among others, offer great alternatives:
It also makes sense to find out the water hardness in your region. The softer the water, the less washing fluids and cleaning agent you need.
- Reduce the washing temperature
Did you know that reducing the temperature by 10°C can reduce electricity consumption per wash by around 30%?
The following guidelines apply:
30-40 °C for delicate laundry
60 °C for bed covers, towels, sportswear, cleaning cloths
90 °C for heavily contaminated textiles
- Properly dispose electronic waste
Old electrical appliances such as televisions, smartphones, washing machines and kitchen appliances can be handed in at any recycling center free of charge. Maybe spring cleaning this year is the right occasion to finally get rid of these devices. Did you know that, according to Statista, over 200 million old smartphones lie unused in drawers and cupboards in German households? These contain valuable and rare raw materials such as gold, silver, palladium and cobalt, which are required for smartphone production.
Our resources are finite, so it is crucial to use scarce resources responsibly and feed them back into the production cycle. You can hand in smartphones at recycling depots. However, mobile phone companies and smartphone recycling companies are also happy to accept your old cell phone.
If your smartphone is still fully functional and up to date, consider offering it on platforms such as rebuy so that a new owner can be found.
Apartments, balconies and gardens can be wonderfully decorated and equipped with a wide variety of upcycling ideas. For example, you can use old tins or jam jars as vases or candle holders. Empty wine boxes are also perfect as wall shelves, for example in the bathroom for towels or toilet paper. In addition, you can turn euro pallets into a couch, a bed or balcony furniture. Before you buy new furniture in the future, consider whether some of your ideas can be realized when upcycling spare materials.
Leisure time and Office
Depending on where you live, it can be difficult to get to work or into the city without a car. Therefore, it makes sense to form carpools. As a result, the emitted emissions and the fuel costs can be halved, divided by three or even by five depending on the size of the car pool and the number of available seats. Alternatives are to offer or look for a ride on portals such as BlaBlaCar. Like this, carpooling can be an option for short and long distances. It might be a new experience and you will get to know other people while reducing traffic volume and greenhouse gas emissions in the spirit of sustainability.
- Public transport and Bike and Ride
Park and Ride parking spaces near the train station invite you to drive from home to the train station and then take the train to work. In many cases, only short distances are covered by car, which could also be covered walking or by bicycle. Hence the suggestion to leave the car at home and switch to the bicycle instead - especially in the summer months. The 49 euro ticket has also made train travel a cheap option. The good weather, the high fuel prices, the positive effects on physical health and the advantages for the environment speak in favour of getting around by bike or train.
- Sustainable search engines
Search engines such as Google or Bing make high profits with search queries and placed advertising. There are also a number of sustainable alternatives that deal transparently with their income and reinvest it in social or ecological projects. Ecosia and Lilo are two examples of sustainable search engines:
- Green banks and insurance companies
Become a customer at a green bank and/or insurance company. Many do not know that the big, private commercial banks are involved in investments in armaments, nuclear and coal industries. It is therefore worth taking a closer look and choosing a bank that acts in the spirit of sustainability, i.e. invests money exclusively in ethically and ecologically justifiable projects. Green banks such as the GLS Bank, the Triodos Bank, the Ethics Bank or the "Umweltbank" consciously invest in social projects and in projects that promote ecological and sustainable development.
Just as you can pay attention to sustainability criteria when choosing your bank, there are also numerous insurance companies that stand out for their environmental awareness and actions. These insurance companies do not invest in fossil energies, but make investment decisions on the basis of ESG criteria instead. ESG stands for Environment, Social Responsibility and Governance. Many well-known insurance companies are nowadays also taking the path of sustainability. They know that climate change is a huge thread. The consequences can no longer be financed in the future and the insurance companies know that there is no alternative to ecological rethinking. Examples of sustainable insurance are Greensurance, Fibur or Mehr Wert.