Years ago I started a more sustainable lifestyle. It all started with a zero waste lifestyle and from there I discovered new issues and problems. I took little steps each time and learned a lot along the way. Have these steps worked? Have I lived eco-positive the past year? 2018/2019.
A sustainable lifestyle
I wanted to live sustainable because I care about the earth and all the living beings on it. I quit buying new stuff, became a vegetarian, then became vegan, ditched the plane. All gradually and I loved every step of the way. Last year was the first time I came across a way to actually test if I did live sustainable. I felt like I was doing well, but I didn’t really know. So I took the test and you read those results here. Last year I had two big problems still: buying new stuff (I bought a new laptop ánd a phone new that year, iek!) and flying. I wanted to change those things and so now it’s time to see how I did this year. I am curious, so let’s see!
Last time I took the test from Zaailingen. I asked her and she says it’s still up-to-date and so I like to stick to that one. I think it’s very accurate because it’s a mix of different calculators. Also, since I took that test last year it’s easy to compare the results if I use the same one this time. The test consists of 10 categories. The 10 categories that cause the biggest impact on our planet. These are: stuff, meat, household’s energy, traveling by car, all other foods (besides meat, dairy and eggs), flying, clothing, eggs and dairy, water and public transportation. I’ll add a graph (in Dutch since the test is in Dutch) with each category. This way you can see my score (the yellow part) and the score of the average Dutch person (the green part). So, let’s start!
Category 1: The new stuff I’ve bought
The past year I spend about 310 euros on new stuff. That’s only the new things I’ve bought, so the secondhand things are not included. That’s because I think there’s no impact in secondhand stuff, since I didn’t persuade a company to produce it, I saved it from trash. Last year I didn’t include the consumables, like shampoo and make-up, because I felt like those aren’t really stuff. I did include them this time, since these are new products and they do cause impact. So here’s what I bought the past year:
– Solar panels: 125 euros
– A book: 17 euros
– USB-sticks: 20 euros
– Birthday cards: 15 euros
– A pencil: 1 euro
– Make-up : 50 euros
– Make-up brush: 8 euros
– Tooth tabs: 30 euros
– Shampoo: 41 euros
– Tooth picks: 3 euros
I chose to include the solar panels, since I invest my money into those and they are actually placed because of my money. I would not change this, because I think the positive impact is way higher. The book and the birthday cards were gifts for others. But, I chose to buy them so I take the responsibility here. I try to always gift experiences, but sometimes a sustainable card is okay. My mom really wanted the book. I did also buy some more gifts, I think about two. But these weren’t chosen by me, the person receiving it explicitly asked for that stuff so I had no choice and so I didn’t include it in my impact.
The USB-sticks were mandatory when I had to hand in my thesis. The pencil I bought for a test when I forgot my own. I bought a sustainable make-up brush made out of bamboo and I think that was the right decision. The rest are all consumables and so I would buy those again, I need shampoo and make-up. Only the book and the USB-sticks weren’t sustainable products, the rest were! I feel like I did very well! Last year I bought 1598 euros worth of stuff, so I improved here! If I have the money I will buy more solar panels next year, I feel like that is what we need for the future, so my score might be higher next year, we’ll see! This section gave me 41.232 point.
Category 2: meat
Meat is category 2 since it has a massive impact on the planet (and the lives of the animals not to mention). I am planning on writing a full post on why I quit eating meat, but I’ve been a vegetarian for 3,5 years now, since the start of 2016. Very surprisingly (*kuchkuch*), this category gives me 0 points just like last year. I am very proud of that and I am not planning on changing it ever again!
Category 3: Household’s energy and gas
I’m 20 years old and I still live with my parents. I just graduated at the University of Applied Sciences and am planning to continue by getting a master’s degree at the University in Amsterdam. I will live at home in the weekends and with family during the week. That means I don’t really have much of an influence on this category.
I do invest in solar panels on public buildings and try use as little energy as possible. I think I can really work on this category whenever I’ll have my own place. And I am really exited for that! Seeing how much I use and working on that, it’s a plan for the future. For now, I just took the average numbers (which are pretty high so that sucks), just like last year. The average person uses up 442kW energy and 447m3 gas. This gives me 88.781 points this year. A tiny bit more than last year. The calculator is up-to-date so that’s why numbers may vary from last year.
Category 4: the car
Last year I only calculated the impact of me being in someone else’s car. This year I decided to get my drivers license and so that gives me extra impact. I had 65 lessons of 45 minutes in which I drove about a total of 37,5 km (I think I mostly drove 50 km/h). This was with two persons in the car (me and my instructor). Also, I took two trips by car with my boyfriend (so two persons in the car). One to Montbeliárd of 1400 km and one to Berlin of 1016 km. Then I also went to Terschelling this year with family, so we sat with four in a car for 370 km.
For the most part I still played handball and so I drove 10 games with four persons in a car. I picked an average of 30 km which gives me 60 km per game. So 600 km in total. I have family living in Haarlem and I went there once (362 km) with four persons in our car and once (362 km) with three in it. There are always some small trips which I miss so I added 500 km with two persons in a car just to be sure I am close to the actual score. This category gives me 32.005 point. That is quite low I think, but I am eager to get it lower next year. I want to do more holidays by train, we could have done that with Berlin and maybe Montbeliárd.
I want to cut this down because none of these trips were in an electric car, all petrol. That is directly causing climate change. Even if my total score is within the earth’s capacity, I want to lower this. I know that most trains run on solar energy so that’s a good replacement. Next year I won’t have driving lessons anymore since I passed so there I’ll do better. Now it’s just a matter of switching when we take big trips. That is quite hard for me, because I love driving and sitting in the car. Last year I had 10 points in this category so I know I’ll be able to do it. Even this year I’m still below average so that shows how much we drive in The Netherlands, even with such a good public transportation system. I just don’t get that.
Category 5: All other foods (except meat, dairy and eggs)
I dared to set this one low this year. 70% of the impact in this category is caused by drinks. Since I don’t drink coffee nor tea and mostly water so I think I’m doing very well. Also, I try to eat local, seasonal, organic and zero waste. The average person eats and drinks 2521 grams per day, but I chose to pick about half, 1260 gram. I scored 37.192 points in this category. I don’t think I can get much lower than that. Maybe when I have my own place and get to make the decisions about groceries (and even grow my own food). Then it’ll be hopefully all local, seasonal and organic. Maybe I can even save food each day in that period (even though I try to do that now, it’s harder).
Category 6: flying
This was the other category I really wanted to change, because last year sucked. I flew with my dad to Tenerife this year. I wrote a post about that, which you can read here. It was on quite short notice after I had made the decision to change. I couldn’t get it clear to my dad. But since I also went on a holiday by myself, that really changed his mind. When he saw how serious the issue was for me, he understood. He saw me planning my train-trip to Albufeira and we talked about it.
It’s clear to him now too, I don’t want to go on a holiday anymore if we have to fly. Even though I now know that I’m not planning on flying anymore, we still made that trip last year. We flew 7308 km in total. Even though that sucks, I know it’s the last time. Last year I scored 183 points in this category and this year I scored 94.179 points. I cut my impact in half! That’s good. Next year it will be 0, I just know!
Category 7: clothing
This year I bought more new clothes than last year. 11 pieces in total! But 6 of those are underwear and I don’t want to buy that secondhand. I did buy all those pieces sustainable, at UnderProtection and OrganicBasics. The underwear cost me 110 euros in total. I also bought tights, one piece for 20 euros. This one was also sustainable from SwedishStockings, I could not find it secondhand.
I borrowed a belt from my stepdad and lost it so I bought a new one at H&M for 15 euros. He wanted it quick and cheap and so yes, I did buy one piece of fast fashion this year. I literally felt bad buying it. Maybe I should have looked for a sustainable belt and bought that really quick, a lesson for next time! Then I would have to pay more but I lost the belt in the first place so that would be fair.
Also, for carnaval everybody bought a scarf and under group pressure I bought one too. 5 euros and I’m sure I’ll never wear it again except for carnaval. Next time I’ll refuse. Last two items I bought was a bikini (top and bottom) in Albufeira. The first day I got there my secondhand bathing suit broke and so I had no choice to buy a bikini since I couldn’t fix the bathing suit there. It cost me 14 euros and was not sustainable at all. My conclusion: I should have said no tot the scarf and the belt. All the other things were needed. This category gives me 17.331 point, where I had 6 points last year.
Category 8: Dairy and eggs
I had gone vegan before this new calculation started and so my impact of this year for dairy and eggs is 0! That feels so good! And just like with meat, I am not planning to change that anymore. I love this lifestyle. Last year I still scored 8 point and I cut that down to zero. Yes!
Category 9: Water
Here goes the same explanation as with Category 3: I don’t control it. Also, I don’t really live in one home. More like three. So here I took the average of 43.8 m3 liters of water. I just hope I’m below average, I do try to. But just like with energy, I think I’ll be able to really measure this when I have my own place. For now this category gives me 16.188 points.
Category 10: public transportation
The last category! And this is a huge one to my surprise. I travelled a lot by train this year! The past year I went to school in Nijmegen for about 18 weeks. I went there 3 days a week (266 km per day). That makes 14.364 km! Without noticing that makes a lot! The remaining part of the year I worked on my thesis and so I think I’ve travelled to Deventer about 8 times (64 km each time). That makes 512 km in total.
My boyfriend lives in Harderwijk so I travelled there about once every two weeks (a rough guess). 214 km each time (26 times) makes 5.564 km in total. And since I ditched the plane this year on one holiday I travelled to Albufeira by train, 5036 km! That makes 25.476 km. Wow! That is a lot. That gives me 117.852 points. That is the biggest category, which I had not expected at all. The biggest part is me going to school in Nijmegen. I think if I did all of this by car my score would be way higher, so all in all this is my best option. I can’t really change these kilometers.
Next year they will be even higher I think (since I’ll fly no more and go on a holiday by plane)! To live a sustainable lifestyle I am allowed 257 points. If traveling is a big part of that, that is okay, because I love it. I choose this part so the challenge would be to have all the other 9 categories under the remaining 140 points (if next year my score will be 117 again, which I don’t expect). I am surprised by the high score, but I am quite proud too. A high score in this category means a low one with flying and by car, so this is in a way very good. And in the Netherlands all trains are powered by renewable energy, so that’s great!
How did I do?
Now it’s time to add up all the category scores! My final score is *dumdumdum*… 444.759 points. That’s a huge improvement! Last year I had 593 points, I’ve improved by 149 points! Last year we needed 2,5 earths if everybody lived like me and this year we still need 1,7. Let’s face it; that’s still too much. We have one earth. So, the goal is to get to 1 or below. That does not mean I am not happy with this improvement. I knew it was too hard to do it in one year. But I want more! I love challenges haha.
Next year I won’t fly and so I’l save 94 points there. That brings me down to 350 points then. Then I have 93 points more to cut. I have to be honest, that is quite a challenge! I think I am going to challenge myself to not buy any new stuff. But that will be without consumables. I still need shampoo, concealer and skin powder. I am going to try to get no new stuff despite that. This year I bought new clothes, which was mostly underwear. Now I have a good stack and so I am going to try to buy no new clothes next year as well!
Two big challenges, woo! I think those two challenges can save me about 40 points. Then the trick is to deduct 50 points still elsewhere. Let’s hope I can drive less and replace that by train and maybe find a way to measure my household score. I choose the average each time, but that gives me 100 points on water and energy! But the coming year I will live in four different homes so I just don’t know how to do that. That’s the big issue here, I can’t measure those categories. Hmm, anyone have any ideas how to do that?
The green chart is the average Dutch person, yellow is me and blue is sustainable. I am definitely up for a challenge due to me being unable to measure part of my impact (category 3 and 9). For now, I am content and off to the new year! But, even though I try to live within the earth’s capacity (257 points) and so I reduce my negative impact, I do add positive impact too!
I own a package free webshop, volunteered a lot at the food bank this year, picked up trash and keep up with this blog and my Youtube channel to inspire others. And next year I plan on doing more activism and I’ll study Environment and Resource Management and hope to create positive impact there. So don’t think this score is a disappointment to me since the next year will be a challenge. It is not, I am a proud girl!
What about you? How have you done this year? Do you have any tips for me?
31 thoughts on “Have I lived eco-positive the past year? 2018/2019”
This is wonderful to read. Seems like you have done a wonderful job and you are on your way to becoming sustainable.
I am really impressed with how you have managed to buy less things; that is one thing I am personally trying to achieve. I keep getting gifts of clothes (which is a cultural thing in India) and I am looking for ways to change that :p
Thanks for your response! I hope one day I’ll be under 1 earth. I’ve come a long way, so it’s okay if you don’t change things overnight 🙂 Buying less things is a great way to reduce your impact. But do you mean you buy the gifts for someone else or do you get a lot of gifts from other people?
Yes, been at it for about 7 months now.
I get a lot of gifts in the form of clothes. I usually gift books to people (now turning into ebooks if they own a Kindle) or I just give them the money 😛 recently me and my sister have agreed to gift each other experiences. So we’ll be going rock climbing!
The elders of the family usually give money or physical items as gifts. So I’m trying to turn that into just monetary gifts now.
Ah, I get what you’re saying! I had difficulties with that too in the past years. I tried to tell people that I didn’t want stuff but they just would buy things anyway. It’s hard, especially when it’s your culture as you say. I try to tell people I don’t want anything, but that usually doesn’t work. What does work for me is that I tell them that if they gift me anything, I might bring it to charity if I don’t need it. That makes people think. And also, make a list of things you do want. You can ask for certain gifts. I sometimes say: I know a present, I would like to do a high-tea, visit a specific concert or another experience, that works too. Or you can ask for secondhand things too, sometimes people are open to that. The Minimalists have a wonderful podcast where they talk about this issue, maybe you can download the podcast app, it’s episode 038. And it sounds like you’re doing very well on gift giving yourself by giving experiences! Rock climbing sound very cool and you’ll make wonderful memories I think 🙂 Way to go!
Yes, I suppose making a list and asking for specific experiences or things I need would work. I’ll try this idea of yours, thanks!
I will also check out the podcast you mentioned.
Yes, we do intend to make a lot of memories and become regular climbers 😀
Good luck! And if you have any articles you would specifically would like to see on my blog, let me know! Tips are always welcome 🙂
Thank you! I certainly will 🙂