Yes! Another year has passed and so it’s time to measure how I’ve done. If you’re wondering: no, it’s not actually a new year, it’s still September. But I once started measuring whether I had lived eco-positive the past year in September and since I do this on a yearly basis, I keep doing it in September. It’s the big moment of truth for me every year. Have I lived eco-positive this past year? Edition 2021/2022. Let’s find out!
A little explanation
This blog is about an eco-positive lifestyle. Shortly said: this is a lifestyle where an individual lives within the boundaries of what the earth can take. There’s a specific budget for every person on this planet. The goal is take only that what is my share, if possible even less. By mapping your behavior, you can measure this with a simple tool (developed by Linda from Zaaillingen). I use this tool every year. The tool gives you an end-score of how many earths we’d need if everybody lived like me. The goal is to get to 1 (as we have one habitable planet) or lower.
I first measures whether I lived eco-positive in 2018, I then started with a score of 2,5 earths (while already vegan). I made adjustments in my lifestyle every year after that and kept measuring my score (find the scores from 2019, 2020 and 2021 here). In 2021 I finally hit my goal, I then managed to get a score of 0.8 earths. So from that point on it is about maintaining that lifestyle, to keep under 1. That’s why I still measure this year whether I have lived eco-positive the past year, in 2021/2022.
The tool which helps you to see whether you lived eco-positive or not has 10 categories. 10 categories that cause by far the biggest negative impact on the planet. It is a combination of The Hidden Impact by Babette Porcelijn and a report of CE Delft. It works with a point system. Each category gives you a certain amount of points. I need a score of 257 points to get a final result of 1 or less earths. You can fill in the tool with information from one day, a month or the entire year. I like to be precise so I have mapped everything the entire year very accurately. The stuff I bought, the kilometers I traveled etc. So, let’s see how I did! Have I lived eco-positive the past year? 2021/2022.
Category 1: Stuff
In total I have spend 315 euros on new stuff the past year. That’s 79 euros less than last year, but not by best score (that was 310 euros in 2019). I exclude consumables like shampoo, make-up and other things that are not stuff. I also exclude secondhand stuff here, since I think the impact should go to the person which buys something new. If you’re buying secondhand, you’re make use of someone else’s trash. I think that’s a good thing, but of course I try to minimize all my purchases, secondhand and new. Here’s everything I bought the past year. The bold items are items I think I could have avoided and I’ll explain more about that below.
1 Nail clipper (September 2021), 1 euros at HEMA.
2 Toilet brush (September 2021), 13 euros at Dille en Kamille.
3 Earrings (September 2021), 19 euros at a local jewelry shop in Enschede.
4 Piercings (September 2021), 40 euros at Eastside Tattoo.
5 Curtain hooks, (September 2021), 6 euros at Kwantum.
6 Blender (September 2021), 25 euros at Blokker.
7 Nails (September 2021), 4 euros at Praxis.
8 Soap tray (October 2021), 4 euros at Dille and Kamille.
9 Stainless steel lunchbox (October 2021), 20 euros at Dille en Kamille.
10 Two books for my little brother (December 2021), 18 euros at a local bookshop.
11 Towel (February 2022), 4 euros at Blokker.
12 Nail file (May 2022), 2 euros at HEMA.
13 Sex toy (June 2022), 22 euros at Bol.com
14 Rechargeable batteries (June 2022), 8 euros at Action.
15 Bicycle lamp (June 2022), 4 euros at Action.
16 Surprise gift (I can’t tell much about this since I’m afraid the person the gift is for might read this)(June 2022), 33 euros at a mystery shop.
17 Bamboo sticks for my plant (July 2022), 2 euros at Intratuin.
18 Nail scissor (August 2022), 5 euros at HEMA.
19 Spare key for my new secondhand bike (August 2022), 7 euros at a local shoe repair shop.
20 Party plugs (August 2022), 13 euros at Etos.
21 Gifts for my flat-mates, 13 in total, all different gifts, my share was about 5 euros per gift (All year round 2021/2022), about 65 euros in total.
21 items in total, of which I regret 4. I’ll explain more about those 4 regrets. The first one was a gift for my birthday from housemates. I had only lived there for 2 weeks when it was my birthday. To them it was not clear that I did not want any gifts. This year I have made it clear, but I should have done that earlier. Next is the towel. Casper and I went on a trip in the Netherlands in February, but we didn’t know there were no towels included in our stay. Consequently, we bought one to share for the weekend. I should always bring a towel, just in case. Or check the information of the accommodation better.
Then there’s the nail file. I really did need it for my toe-nail, I shattered my toe and toenail about 7 years ago and it still isn’t healing the way I want it to. Therefore I need a proper vile to maintain the nail. The vile I bought at HEMA was shitty and so I regret this purchase. I later got a good one secondhand from my mom.
Then a big point. I listed 21 items, while number 21 on the list are actually 13 gifts. I moved into a student flat last year in September and there it was tradition to gift everyone a physical gift (that’s why I also got the blender in September). Some gifts were physical, some were gift vouchers, some were experiences. I don’t remember everything so that’s why I just listed it as one item. I regret all these gifts because I don’t like the focus on physical gifts on birthdays. It’s so materialistic. I could not opt out on my own and so I recently proposed to get rid of the tradition to buy gifts at someone’s birthday. From now on we will buy a big cake and spend time together! Next year this will not be on my list anymore.
All the rest of the items I do not regret. I either did not want to buy it secondhand or lend it (like the sex toy and the toilet brush haha). Or I just could not find it secondhand anywhere (like the piercings, rechargeable batteries and most of the list). I have to say: earrings are something I normally buy secondhand, but since I got new holes in my ears I could not choose secondhand.
The total of 315 euros gives me 45,732 points. The green bar below is the score of the average Dutch person, all the other colors are my scores from the past years. The yellow score is the score from this year.
Goals for next year
315 euros is not my best score, but it’s close. If I exclude the purchases I regret I would come at 219 euros. My goal each year is to get a score of 0. I moved last year and the year before so there were some things I simply needed, like a toilet brush. This coming year I am also moving in June/July probably, but I will still try to get a score of 0. One day I will make it!
Category 2: meat
This category is extremely short compared to the last category. I am a vegetarian since 2016. After 6,5 years I am still going strong and I would never go back. Why? Find out here and here. Since I don’t eat meat this category gives me 0 points.
Category 3: household energy and gas
This is a tough category. I live together with 13 people in a student flat and as far as I know I can’t see my personal use of energy and gas anywhere. I have send an e-mail to the administrator of our building, so this might change the coming weeks. For now, I’ll take 80% of the average score for Dutch people. Unlike last year, I do use natural gas in my room. For the heating and the shower. I cannot change that.
I’ll take 80% because I do feel like I’m doing a little better than most people. All winter, I rarely used my heating (only when I had COVID-19 and sporadically on other days). But I can’t know exactly and I don’t want to guess too low. That’s why I chose 80% of the average score, which is 1271 kWh and 488 m3 of gas. You also need to fill in the size of your house and with how many people you live. I set it at 1 person and 18m2, since that’s my room. We have a shared kitchen and living room but I find it too complicated to include that somehow. It’s not all mine. This category gives me 54,85 points.
Category 4: the car
This past year I have traveled 1935 kilometers with 4 people in one car, 996 kilometers with 3 people in one car and 2070 kilometers with 2 people in one car. A total of 5001 kilometers. I list all my trips by car very carefully every week, that’s why I know this very precise. All these kilometers give me a score of 18,92 points. That makes me very happy! It’s not my lowest ever, but usually I score higher. The goal in this category is not to get to 0 since that’s impossible, I love traveling. But a low score is great!
category 5: other foods
Meat, dairy and eggs are specific categories. That’s because these products create an immense amount of negative impact. This category contains all the food that’s left. The average Dutch person eats 2521 grams of food each day. I find this category quite hard to calculate but I’m going with the same score as last year, 50% of the average score. 70% of the impact in this category is caused by drinks, like coffee and soft drinks. For health reasons, my personal goal is always to drink water and so I think I’m doing quite good in this category. Besides, I follow this food plan, to eat as sustainable as possible. I save food, eat 100% plant-based, mostly organic and where possible local. Half of the average is 37,192 points. Same as last year.
Category 6: flying
2019 was the first year that I quit flying, so this past year has been the fourth year in line that I haven’t stepped into a plane. I am not planning to change that. I have plans to discover the world (taking the train to China, or sailing to South-America for example), but never by plane. Let’s see how many years in a row I can keep this habit of not flying going! This category gives me 0 points.
Category 7: clothing
Alike with stuff, I only include new clothing in this category. That’s because I think the impact should be accounted to the person which buys the item new. The past year I bought precisely 1 clothing item new. In January a flat mate thought it’d be cool if all 14 of us in the flat had the same sweater. Everyone like the idea, so I didn’t want to ruin the party. She ordered 14 sweaters for all us. I wear the sweater a lot, but maybe I should’ve stuck to my morals here. This is probably fast fashion, as it cost 15 euros per sweater. If I said no, I would have finally made my goal of not buying any new clothing for an entire year. Shit! I hope I manage next year. 1 item of clothing of 0.5 kilo gives me score of 2,039 points.
Category 8: dairy and eggs
Another category that’s very easy. I’ve gone vegan in 2017 and so since that time I do not eat dairy or eggs anymore. I don’t think I’ll ever go back, I feel better than ever, knowing that I show compassion to animals. This category gives me 0 points.
Category 9: water
Alike with household gas and energy, I don’t know how much water I’ve used since I have no insight into this information. I think we only have a total household bill, since I live with 13 others. For now, I just took 80% of the average Dutch score. I try to save water while I shower and water my plants with excess water from my showers. 80% of the average Dutch score is 35m3 of water. This category gives me 13,025 points.
category 10: public transportation
This is always the category that I’m most nervous about. Since I don’t fly and try not to drive much by car, this category is always very big. It’s okay, since I want to keep traveling, just differently. The past year I have traveled 14.503 kilometers in total by public transportation. It’s not my highest score ever, but it’s still a lot. But as I said, I will not cut down in this category. It’s the most sustainable way to travel fast. This category gives me 67,091 points.
How did I do?
So, I need a total score of 257 or lower to have lived eco-positive the past year. My score is 238,849 points. That means I made it again! I have lived an eco-positive lifestyle for the second year in a row. If everybody on this planet lived like me we’d need 0,9 earths.
I am very happy, I made it once again. I do have a higher score than last year. It’s the first year that I went up instead of down. I think that’s mostly because I can’t measure my energy, gas and water consumption exactly. Ugh, I think it’s really shitty that I can’t measure that part. But maybe I will get a reaction from my building administrator saying that they can give me precise data. I compensated a bit because I went down in the categories stuff, car and clothing. Since I will still live in this student flat this next year I will have the same problem of not being able to measure energy and water next year. Ugh. But well, for now, I am very content with this score. It’s worth a celebration still! I improved on quite a bit of fronts!
There are two categories where I am really eager to get at 0. That’s 1: stuff and 7: clothing. I think next year will be finally be the year that I did not buy any new clothing. For stuff, I know I will get a new piercing the coming months, so 0 is impossible. But I will again try to push it further down. Let’s see what next year will bring 🙂
Have you lived eco-positive the past year? Or in 2021 if you measure it by an entire year?