My 5 Biggest Sustainability Challenges At This Moment | September 2021

A picture of my new room in Amsterdam The wall is pink on the bottom half with a painting hanging on it. In front of the wall is my bed (brown with a bedsheet with all sorts of earth-ish colors) and a brown rug. You can see the window in the room and there's a plant in front of it. There's also an aloe vera plant next to my bed.

As you all know, I moved to Amsterdam recently. It’s been three weeks now and I think I already learned a lot about this new situation to do an evaluation. I went from living with my boyfriend in a modern apartment (where I finally managed to live within the earth’s capacity for the first time!) to living in an old student flat with 13 others. It’s been a real adventure and I’ve been loving the student life again so far. However, this change also has some consequences for my sustainable lifestyle. I have already come across challenges for this new life. Today I want to share those with you. 

1 Organic Food

When I lived together with my boyfriend we had a great arrangement. He cooked 4 times a week and I cooked 3 times a week (on the days when I was off from work). Now that I live alone I cook 7 days a week (and sometimes together with flatmates). I still rescue food via The TooGoodToGo app and so I get a random box with veggies and fruits about once a week. To make a meal with those random items I need to go to the store about every day. That’s because some things in the box of fruits and veggies that I rescue need to be finished first since they then start to go bad. That differs day by day. Second, I found out that doing a master along with handball, dancing, piano class, the sailing association and the student association is a lot. I have little time and that makes me go to the nearest supermarket every day when I need some food. I go to Jumbo supermarket (which I don’t like at all either, because I rather support local stores. Another problem …). Anyway, Jumbo has a pathetic section of organic food and so I don’t always have the option of organic food. That’s a bummer! My aim is to buy 100% organic (besides the food that I rescue). 

I hope I can improve this in time. I think this month is crazy time-wise because everything is still new. When I have more time I can go to the organic store Ekoplaza (still not local but I haven’t found a local organic store yet) and buy organic food. I hope that’ll get better in time. 

2 Zero Waste

The second thing on the list also has to do with food. It has the same cause. I have little time and so I am relying on the local Jumbo supermarket right now. That makes me buy things in plastic/packaging which is absolutely not necessary. 

I have made a plan to improve this. There’s a zero waste shop in Amsterdam. I am planning on going there soon and then I’ll buy all the essentials at once so that I don’t have to buy plastic which is not necessary anymore. Things like beans, lentils, oats, quinoa, all that sort of stuff. The zero waste shop offers only organic zero waste food so that’s perfect. I think I can solve this problem! 

3 Recycling

We recycle glass and cardboard in our student flat. And for cardboard that’s only really big cardboard, no small paper is recycled. I think this is not a lot. We can also do paper and organic waste. I might be able to influence this a little.

I saw on campus that another flat had a worm bin! Soon I am going to ask them how they arranged this. Also, I think I am going to propose to all the other flatmates to take care of recycling. We now have one bin where everybody puts everything. If I can find a secondhand bin with multiple bins inside that’ll be great. This makes it very easy for people to recycle. Paper I can definitely do! But I have to see if we can also get a worm bin to recycle the organic waste (or maybe in another way). I am not sure if that’ll work. But I am on it! 

4 Gas

In my previous apartment where I lived with my boyfriend we had electric heating (for both the room and water) and cooking equipment. We also had great isolation which resulted in us not using the heat all year round! Right now, this is not the case. In this student flat we cook on gas and we also heat our rooms and water with gas. Also, isolation is not great, the flat was built in 1966 … 

I can’t really change the cooking part. I mean, I don’t own the living room. I am only responsible for my own room and the area we share is managed by the owner of all the student flats. I have to cook on gas, I have no choice. The same goes for hot water. I need hot water to shower. However, I do manage my own heating. Even though isolation is really bad and this will be a big challenge: I am going to try again to not use the heating all year round again. I am really curious if I can manage this. I like a challenge and it’s on! Wearing warm sweaters and slippers will probably help! 

5 Travel

If you’ve read all my posts about my personal impact the past years, you know that public transportation is always an issue. I travel a lot by train! I think this year will be a big challenge again. I live in Amsterdam and my boyfriend lives in Groningen. We have a long distance relationship again and that means I will have to travel a lot by train. Same goes for my family. My parents and grandparents live in Enschede, the other side of the country. I will visiting them quite often because I really enjoy spending time with family. This issue will be a great challenge, again …

Good Habits

Even though I have some big challenges, there are also a lot of things going great. For sustainability and personal issues both. I have managed to buy almost all my furniture secondhand! Also, I have absolutely no access to a car and so I think I’ll barely travel by car this coming school year. I have finally started exercising regularly as well and it feels great. I sleep less and feel more energized. I have been eating quite healthy even though I have gone to quite some get togethers, parties and all that. I am also keeping up with school. 

Of course this coming year is not only about challenges (the student life is full of fun, crazy nights, friends, parties and more), and of course the base of my sustainable lifestyle is already there! But I do like challenges and I determined to better myself. Let’s do this! 

Yours sincerely,
Romee 

2 thoughts on “My 5 Biggest Sustainability Challenges At This Moment | September 2021”

  1. When I have more time I can go to the organic store Ekoplaza (still not local but I haven’t found a local organic store yet) and buy organic food. I hope that’ll get better in time.
    >> Is there a farmer’s market nearby? In Utrecht the organic market is on Friday’s, for example.

    2. Zero Waste
    >> Can you keep the containers (plastic/glass) that you or your housemates are using, and take those to the zero-waste shop?

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