In a year where we have had more than enough serious issues to worry about, climate change remains at the top of the list of global problems and the need to work towards a more sustainable future seems more imperative than ever. The latest survey by the Pew Research Center concluded that 70 % of the population in 14 countries consider climate change to be a major threat. In this regard, although 2020 has been a difficult year, combating climate change and the post-COVID-19 crisis may require a shared roadmap.
Fortunately, the growing concern about the state of our planet and climate change means the public are more environmentally aware and in turn are adopting a greener lifestyle. More and more people are determined to make their day-to-day life more sustainable. In this article, we present some of the trends such as "plogging" or "upcycling" that help us look after the planet. Who knows, you may be inspired and set some as your new year's resolutions.
Plogging: Doing sport and collecting rubbish
When you go for a run, you put on sportswear, pick up your mobile or iPod and if you decide to go "plogging", you'll also need to bring a bin bag. Running has taken another step toward becoming a socially conscious sport.
This new way of doing sport, which originated in Sweden, allows you to do sport and look after the environment at the same time: it is all about going running and picking up rubbish you come across along the way. The word combines "running" and the Swedish expression "plocka upp", which means "picking up". It is an eco-friendly practice that is perfect for keeping us fit and helping us clean up our area.
Upcycling: Recycling waste to create new objects
"Upcycling" is rethinking, reinventing. It is also known as creative reuse. In "upcycling", objects are used to create products that have a higher value than the original object had. In other words, it is about using your imagination to transform waste.
The only limit to "upcycling" is your own imagination. You can turn that drum that is collecting dust in a corner into a lamp, glass bottles into ornaments and even an old computer into a fishbowl. You can give your waste a second life while helping look after the environment.
Precycling: Reducing waste from the time of purchase
The purpose of precycling is to raise awareness of the waste we produce and to encourage us to buy products that have minimal impact on the environment. It is about encouraging consumers, for example, to purchase food that is wrapped in biodegradable materials or that does not have any packaging at all. It is these little things that help contribute to global sustainability.
Join the "Zero Waste" movement
Taking precycling to the next level, there is the "Zero Waste" movement. With the packaging for milk, sandwich bread and cereal bars… even fruit comes wrapped in plastic! Is it possible to eliminate the waste we produce? According to the "Zero Waste" movement, the answer is yes. And it all starts with the decisions we make when it comes to buying and consuming.
This move is based on the five error rule: reject what you don't need, reduce what you do need, reuse packaging and materials and opt for second-hand consumption, recycle everything for which you cannot stop or reduce your consumption or which cannot be decomposed to obtain natural fertiliser. The waste we leave in nature is one of the biggest pollution problems on the planet, so it is not without reason that the "Zero Waste" movement advocates not producing waste.
Opt for second hand items
Every time someone chooses to buy a used item instead of something new, whether it's a mobile, jeans or a piece of furniture, not only do they save money but it also means they aren't releasing emissions into the environment and are contributing to sustainable development.
According to a study by the Adevinta group, 25.3 million tonnes of emissions were prevented in 2019, which is approximately the same amount of emissions as those produced by 2.8 million Europeans every year, thanks to purchases made on their second-hand trading platforms.
Think about what you eat (and what you throw out)
"The only way to mitigate the devastating impact of climate change is by promoting and eating a diet that supports the planet's well-being" warned a report signed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last year. According to the University of Oxford, a quarter of all greenhouse emissions are produced by the food industry.
You don't need to go vegetarian or vegan all of a sudden: there are many ways to gradually change your diet to a more sustainable one, for example, not eating meat a few days a week or going vegetarian on weekdays but still eating meat on weekends. It is also important to opt for less processed foods to reduce our carbon footprint, as well as avoiding food with excessive packaging and buying products in bulk instead. Finally, it is just as important to think about what we eat as it is to think about what goes in the bin. According to the IPCC, food waste is behind 8 to 10 % of greenhouse gas emissions produced by humans.
Transport has always been at the centre of the global debate on pollutant emissions. In response, sustainable electric mobility has been breaking through onto the roads of hundreds of cities.
In countries such as Spain and Italy, for example, you can already hire motorbikes that run on electricity generated from renewable energies. These zero-consumption electric motorbikes allow you to travel around the city in a comfortable and sustainable way.