The Hidden Impact by Babette Porcelijn

The past week I’ve read a book that has been on my list for a long time. I still remember the day it was launched. My social media blew up (I follow a lot of people who are concerned with the environment) and I saw the writer on television around that time too. I wanted to read this book so bad. This is the book that’s the basis of an eco-positive lifestyle, every person should read this! I’m talking about the book: The Hidden Impact by Babette Porcelijn.

The Hidden Impact

The book is about, as the title says, hidden impact. The hidden impact of everything you do, buy, eat and use. The hidden impact is the negative impact of your behavior which you don’t directly see. Everything you do has a hidden impact which you don’t see and happens somewhere else. Huh? An example. We know driving a car is bad. You physically see the direct impact, the emissions coming from your car. However, the hidden impact of your car is usually a lot bigger. The car you bought had to be produced and shipped. That part is the part you didn’t see but does have the biggest negative impact. Porcelijn has calculated the hidden impact of everything by looking at the entire supply chain of a product and not just the usage.

Why We Need This Book

This book is the holy book for me, my entire lifestyle is based upon it. This book gives you an insight in the hidden impact, the negative impact you personally cause but don’t physically see. Right now most people don’t really know how to make their life sustainable. They start at some random point, just like I did. I started with a zero waste lifestyle. Why? Because that’s the visible impact and so that’s what you tackle. However, Porcelijn shows us in this book that the biggest impact of all is usually hidden. If you don’t read this book you don’t know what behavior you should change first.

Many people often tell me: you eat vegan but you still take 30 minutes showers! That’s because they think the impact is equal but it’s not. Going vegan has a much bigger impact than taking shorter showers. The visible things (like using less water in the shower) usually create a much lower impact than the hidden impact (the water used to make on single beef burger). That’s why we need this book very much! This way we can tackle the biggest issues and decrease our impact immensely. That’s why we need The Hidden Impact by Babette Porcelijn.

What Causes The Biggest Hidden Impact

Porcelijn has made a top 10 for the average Dutch person of the behavior that causes the biggest hidden impact. This is great! On the chart below you can which behavior causes the biggest impact for most people. The photo is in Dutch but the biggest category is stuff. When you buy new stuff this has a huge negative impact on the environment, especially electronics. Category 2 is meat. The third category is your house. Category 4 is your car. 5 is plant-based foods and drinks (the biggest impact in this category comes from drinks like coffee and tea). 6 is flying. 7 is clothing and textile. 8 is dairy and eggs. 9 is the bathroom (including cosmetics) and 10 is public transportation.However, this is the behavior from the average Dutch person and so it’s important to calculate your own (which you can do on the website).

I’ve done this three years now, in 2018, 2019 and 2020. For me stuff and flying caused the biggest impact when I first started. If you make a long flight every year it’s nearly impossible to have a sustainable lifestyle. Same goes with stuff, we need to buy less.

impact tot 10


Most people buy too much stuff and that causes their biggest impact. The solution is to buy less or secondhand. That saves a lot of impact already. Meat is at number 2 and if you combine it with dairy and eggs it might even be the number 1 is this list (this depends on how much you eat of it). The future is vegan so join it, go vegan! But as I said, calculate your personal impact too. Then you know which things you should tackle first (instead of showering less or living zero waste first).


Well, the core of this book is amazing. It shows us how to tackle the climate crisis on a personal level. This is literally the guide to a sustainable lifestyle. It’s based upon research. But what I also like is that it is uncluttered. Porcelijn explains everything so well that it seems simple. And the figures in the book really help. I’ve listed a view photos below so you can see it. This makes the book extremely insightful and clear. The climate crisis is immense and overwhelming but Porcelijn makes you understand it. What makes it even better are the concrete examples. Do I go for organic or local food to name an example? Should I drive electric or not? Do I shower less or go vegan? All the answers are there. This is the holy book for a sustainable lifestyle.

So When I Buy No New Stuff I’m Good?

This book makes you tackle the important subjects first. Buying no new stuff, going vegan, stop flying etc. This way we can maintain it for the long term because our effort pays off. If we start with the things which have a low impact we spend a lot of time for something with little effects. That’s a shame. We can have much bigger results with the same effort. This book gives you the priorities! However, what is really important for is that I don’t let everything else go. Yes, buying vegan food is much more important than buying zero waste. But that doesn’t mean I can just go vegan and be done.

No, I keep trying on zero waste too. However, I just know that most of my energy should go to eating vegan. So this doesn’t mean that you can stop buying new stuff and be done (that probably still wouldn’t leave you with a sustainable lifestyle if you calculate it). No, again, it gives you priorities. Start with the big things but if you have the energy, do the other stuff too. So, yes, I always eat vegan. But I try to cut down the amount of time I spend in the shower too. I eat vegan all the time for 100% and I cut down shower time whenever I can. Priorities, priorities.

The Book

This is the book. I recommend it to everyone who want to live sustainable. This book is the basis. I think it should even be mandatory in schools! It’s literally a guide to a sustainable lifestyle. And we need that desperately if we want to avoid human extinction.

Have you read The Hidden Impact by Babette Porcelijn?

Yours sincerely,

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