It’s September again! And for me that means one thing: calculating my personal impact. It’s time to look back at the past year and see if I lived eco-positive or not. Shortly said, I’m going to calculate how many earths we’d need if everybody lived like me. Would we then live within the earth’s capacity or not? I need a score of 1 or lower to do so, because well, we only have 1 planet. And unfortunately, we are currently using more than we have. Let’s see, have I lived eco-positive the past year? 2022/2023.
Past scores and the test
I’ve been measuring whether I live eco-positive or not since 2018. If you want to learn more about my previous scores, look in the category ‘What is an eco-positive lifestyle?’ under the ‘home’ tab. All previous posts can be found there. In this post I’ll also show you the trend in scores from my previous years. I always list the score of the average Dutch person and from myself. This score is from exactly 1 year time, from the 1st of September 2022 till the 31st of August 2023.
The test I’m taking is developed by Linda from Zaailingen.com. It’s a combination of The Hidden Impact calculation by Babette Porcelijn and a calculation from CE Delft. The test includes the 10 categories in which Dutch people make the biggest negative impact. Each category gives me a certain amount of points. I need a score of 257 points or lower to have lived eco-positive. 257 points means that we’d need 1 earth. I highly recommend you to take the test too, because most Dutch people think their score is really good, when this is not the case.
Category 1: Stuff
The past year I bought 425 euros worth of new stuff. That’s 110 euros more than last year, when I spend 315 euros. 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 Canning ring for a mason jar (September 2022), 0,50 euros at Dille and Kamille.
2 Inner tube for my bike (September 2022), 4,50 euros at HEMA.
3 Piercing (September 2022), 60 euros at EastSide Tattoo.
4 Menstruation cup (September 2022), 15,45 euros at Etos.
5 Ceder wood blocks (October 2022), 4,90 euros at Dille and Kamille.
6 Bike lights with a dynamo (January 2023), 19 euros at Reelight.
7 Tire or my bike (February 2023), 99,50 euros at a local bike shop.
8 Charger for my digital photo-frame (June 2023), 34 euros at PlentyParts.
9 Reparations for my secondhand ring and necklace (June 2023), 165 euros at a local jewelry.
10 Inner tube for my bike (July 2023), 7 euros at a local bike repair shop.
11 Lice comb (July 2023), 15 euros at Holland and Barret.
Not too many purchases, 11 in total. That’s roughly one each month. Just two purchases I regret. One is the ceder wood blocks I bought to make my closet smell less stale. I have an old built-in closet in my room and it smells stale. I bought some ceder wood blocks because it seemed a sustainable solution. However, it doesn’t really work, the smell is still stale. The second thing I regret is a pretty big purchase, worth 99,50 euros. I don’t really regret the purchase itself. My bike was broken after I lended it for a night to my flatmate. He had carried someone on the luggage carrier, making a huge battle in the band. The man at the bicycle repair shop was shocked by it. My flatmate ended up paying for this repair, but I still see it as my impact. I learned my lesson: I’m not lending my bike to anyone anymore. It’s my main transportation vehicle and it sucks if it’s broken.
If the regrets would not be there I would have spent 310 euros. Better, but still not 0 (my goal). The biggest purchase I did was 165 euros worth of reparations for my secondhand ring and necklace. Those were just necessary, my ring was broken and for the necklace I needed a new lock. However, those 165 euros also includes a lot of labour probably. I paid 165 euros for the reparations, but the stuff alone was probably a little cheaper. I’m hoping to be good for the coming decade(s) now. The rest of the purchases were never avoidable. I just needed a new inner tube for my bike twice after it broke. I also didn’t ask for lice… but I got them anyway and had to buy a comb to get them out. Most purchases are stories like these.
Next year I’m putting my target at 0 again. It seems impossible, but the closer I get to that goal, the better. For now, this category gives me 61.702 points. In all pictures below the green bar 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. Note that the average Dutch person already failed to live within the earth’s capacity within this first category, with the stuff that they buy alone.
Category 2: Meat
This category is extremely short compared to the last category. I have been a vegetarian since 2016. After 7,5 years I am still going strong and I would never go back. Here’s why I think it’s unethical to consume meat, dairy or eggs. Since I don’t eat meat this category gives me 0 points.
Category 3: Household energy
This category hasn’t changed since last year. I still live in a student flat with 13 others and we have just one energy consumption meters. Therefore, I have no clue as to what my usage is. Nevertheless, I am still very proud of myself. Once again, I managed to get through the winter without turning the heat on once. F**k you, Putin! I had managed this two years ago as well, but that was in a well-isolated apartment built in 2019. This time I had to do in a student flat built in the 1960’s. It was tough, but I did it and I am proud of that.
Since I don’t know what my electricity nor gas usage has been this past year, I am taking 80% of the average score. 80% is a fair number I think, the actual number is probably lower but I don’t want to be too optimistic. 80% of the average is 1271 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 488 square meters of gas. This category gives me a score of 56.156 points. That’s a little more than last year, while I both took 80% of the average score. I guess the tests keeps correcting for the amount of people we have on this planet, which is a good thing. The coming year I will move out of my student flat and so next year I can finally measure this score.
Category 4: The car
At the end of every week, I list all my car rides of that week. So that, when I do this calculation once a year, it’s a piece of cake. My feeling says that I traveled very little by car the past year. The only big thing I did was go on a holiday by car to Ghent. And two holidays within The Netherlands… Well, let’s just see. The past year I traveled 723 kilometers with 2 persons in the car, 861 kilometers with 3 or 4 persons in the car and 710 kilometers with 5 persons in the car. This category therefore gives me 8.081 points.
I finally did it! I didn’t travel as much by car as I did in the previous years. It’s not 0, but it’s a lot less. And I want to keep it that way. One very big thing is that I never sat in the car by myself, as I don’t own as car. I only travel with more people in a car, as that is more efficient. And another big thing is that I skipped most holidays per car. If I go by train that just saves me a lot of points. I am very happy, as you can see I am in a downwards trend. Let’s see how low I can go next year.
Category 5: All 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 37.227 points. Almost the same as last year, a very boring category.
Category 6: Flying
In 2019 I finally stopped flying. That means that this is the fifth year in line that I haven’t flown. Yes! I am happy with this. But, I have a lot to make up for. From age 8 till 21 I flew about 20 times. For now, I am doing good and I am determined to stretch this no-flying rule for as long as I can. If electric flying is a thing one day, maybe then I’ll consider it again. This category gives me 0 points.
Category 7: Clothing
This category is going to be huge. And I’m scared that this category will even put me over the 1-earth mark, making me lose my goal. Buy let’s not get ahead of things. In this category I include the new clothing items I bought the past year. I don’t include secondhand clothing, as I feel that the impact goes to the person making the choice to buy the item new. The past year I bought 628 euros (!!!) worth of new clothing. You might be surprised, because I never really struggle with not buying any new clothing. And that is still the case. I spend those 628 euros on underwear.
I don’t want to buy underwear secondhand. This past year I spend 528 euros on knickers and 100 euros on bras. Both from sustainable and fair fashion brands. I have changed my mind in the meantime about the bras. Next time I might buy secondhand bras. But still, I don’t regret buying those new bras. I needed two proper ones and I wanted to buy from a sustainable brand in a physical store to have my size measures by a professional. Now that I know that, I consider secondhand next time. But still, I refuse to buy secondhand knickers.
And now, you might still wonder. How did you spend 528 euros on knickers? Well, it’s a long story. But shortly said: I finally found a sustainable and fair fashion brand that made knickers from cotton in cute colors that I love and they suited me perfectly. I had searched for that for years. However, not soon after I found that brand, they announced that they were shutting down the business. And so, I bought up all the stock that was left in my size. In total I bought about 22 knickers (that’s an estimate, I don’t know the exact number). The money is just a lot because fair and sustainable fashion is expensive. I do not regret buying these knickers. In fact, I am still extremely happy that I did buy them. And I hope they will last me decades.
In this category you have to count how many items you bought and how much they weigh. On the internet I read that one knicker weighs 100 grams and I guess that’s about right. With 24 items (22 knickers and two bras), that adds up to about 2,5 kilo’s. This category gives me 27.525 points. I think this is my highest score ever. Next year I hope to go to 0, because I now have enough underwear for decades.
Category 8: Dairy and eggs
Back to a simple and good category! I went vegan in 2017 and I still am vegan today. Recently, after being vegan for about 6 years, I did an extensive bloodtest to see how my health is. I have very good values on all fronts. Soon, I will write more about that. For now, I just want to say: I will stay vegan and so this score will not change. This category gives me 0 points, as I don’t eat dairy or eggs.
Category 9: Water
Another category that I cannot measure because I share the water bill with 13 other flatmates. I don’t have any insight into my water usage. Next year will be better, because I will move out of this student flat this coming year. For now, I took 80% from the average Dutch person’s score. I do that because I have been able to measure this water score once (in 2020/2021), when I lived with my boyfriend for a year. Our score was quite low back then and my behavior hasn’t changed much. I try to be conscious with my water use. 80% of the Dutch average is 35m3 of water. This category therefore gives me 13.025 points.
Category 10: Public transportation
Here comes one of the biggest categories. Public transportation is always a big one for me, as I don’t fly and try to minimize my trips by car. I also live about 3 hours from my family and the same goes for my boyfriend (we have a long distance relationship). So, I’m a little scared for these points haha. But let’s see. The past year I traveled 12,302 km by public transportation. Wow, that’s a lot. It’s from Amsterdam to Vietnam! Those amount of kilometers give me a score of 56.909 points.
It’s more than last year, when I had about 11,000 kilometers. The biggest trip I took the past year is a trip to London by train. That’s about 1,100 kilometers. The remaining 11,000 kilometers are all within The Netherlands. I took a closer look and from the 52 weeks in a year, there were 4 weeks in which I did not travel by public transportation. So 48 out 52 weeks I do travel by public transportation. Luckily I go to work by bike… That would make matters even worse. Most trips were to my family in Enschede.
Next year will be better. I will not have a long distance relationship anymore, because me and my boyfriend and planning to move in together the coming year. I also have to discuss some things with my parents in Enschede. Right now, I never really invite them to come over at my place in Amstelveen. That’s because I live in a student flat and it feels a little too small and messy there. But next year, when I (hopefully) have my own apartment, that’s not an issue anymore. Then they can travel to me too, instead of me always coming to them. We’ll see. For now, I am not unhappy with this score. I don’t want to cut down points in this category because I love traveling and seeing my family and boyfriend.
The total score
As I said, I need a score of 257 points to live an eco-positive lifestyle. My score from this year is… 260.219 points. That means I didn’t make it. By just 3 points. I have a score of 1,01 earths. If everybody lived like me, we’d need 1,01 earths. Which we don’t have.
My thoughts about this score
Above you see a picture of the scores, all together. As you can tell, I kept going down from 2018 onwards. Until last year, when I went up again (to 0,9 earths). And this year I went to 1,01 earths. As far as I can see, the different really comes from the categories stuff, clothing and public transportation. I mean, I must say I am not too surprised. I was already a little afraid of this. This just shows that I can’t do it all in one year. Buying new underwear was fine, traveling more was fine too, but I bought too much stuff. It would have been okay if I chose to get my jewelry repaired a little later. Or if my flatmate didn’t break my bike (haha, okay, that’s unfair, this score is not on him). I guess this is the lesson: the base is good, but if there are big purchases that I feel I actually need, I have to check whether that’s possible or that I have to move it to the next year.
I am a little bummed that I didn’t make it. But I crossed the border with just 0,01 and that’s very small. It could have been worse. I just need to do better next year, that’s all I can say right now.
My behavior is quite steady and in some categories I have a score of 0 and this has been like this for years. I am proud of that. And therefore my goals lie in the remaining categories, just like last year. I want to get to 0 in the category clothing and stuff. Furthermore, I want to keep the car category low. And also, next year I want to finally be able to measure the household energy and water category. Hopefully, those will lower than my guesses. I will not cut down on public transportation. This new year has just started and I already did a big interrail, so I know that won’t be possible. I don’t want to cut points in the category public transportation as long as I don’t have to.
That’s it for now! I have not lived eco-positive the past year.