Last week, we began our imaginative green day and we learned about energy-saving light bulbs or the amount of water flushing down the toilet. This week, we want to continue this day and hopefully it gives you some inspiration.
You turn on your laptop and the printer because you forgot to print out the slides for your Macroeconomics class, this afternoon. As you really need those slides printed, you try to be eco-friendly by putting several slides on one paper and print on both sides. Imagine how much paper you can save if you print all your slides for university like that!
Moreover, your printer uses recycled cartridges, which can be reused or re-manufactured from 3 to 7 times and it is a shame that only a quarter of all cartridges are recycled if you remember the consequences: one ordinary inkjet cartridge takes up to 1000(!) years to decompose and unfortunately, in UK alone, 30 million printer cartridges are dumped each year. For comparison: that’s the weight of 18 blue whales!
If the whole printer or the computer is “dead”, don’t throw it into normal waste. It belongs to special waste and can even be recycled. My colleague Lisa gave me the link to a websites which occupies itself with recycling of electronic devices. Check out http://www.recycle-it.de/englisch/index.html
The printing is done and you turn off the lights, the printer, the laptop, the kettle and any devices that don’t necessarily have to stay on when they are not in use. By that, you can already save a lot of electricity and money and by unplugging those items; you save even more, because some appliances have a “stand by function” that draw electricity although the item seems to be off. That can be up to 20 watts! You unplug the toaster as well because it is well known to be the source of many fires at home. Besides the money saving there is a safety aspect.
Taking the bike on your way to university is both eco-friendly and healthy but public transport is a green way, too. The car should only be the last possibility.
In the break, when you go to Café Geschmacklos, you take a real mug (with the token) instead of a disposable cup and bring your food in a reusable lunch box, so you don’t have to take plastic bags and through them away after using them once.
For lunch, you have the vegan or at least vegetarian dish at the Mensa, as meat takes way too much energy. If you only take what you can eat, you don’t have to throw away food. You reduce waste and remember: that’s the priority in the waste management pyramid I showed you some weeks ago!
Back at home, after a look in the fridge, you decide to try the yoghurt, which is 5 days after its expiration date, first before sending it in the bin. If smell, look and texture are as usual, you can normally eat milk products or bread without problems, even if the date noted on the top was a few days ago. When you are buying groceries, you pay attention to regional products which don’t have to travel around the planet to land in your basket and therefore need less energy. But food and its consumption is a topic that will fill a future post…
Furthermore, if you need new clothes, you can visit a second hand store or, if you want them to be new, buy clothes made from organic cotton. The water and cotton problem in the world is going to be another blog post topic, as well.
Each of us can do a lot of things in daily life in order to be greener and those things aren’t difficult at all. Of course, we can’t to everything at once because that would be overwhelming and exhausting. The trick is that you start with one or two things (e.g. recycling paper rigorous) and “practice” them every day until it is natural. Then you move on to other things and step by step you go further in the green direction. Some of these examples may seem to be exaggerated actions (vegan food or unplugging every electric device) but they all have their purposes.
I have to say that I am not doing all of these things and there all kinds of reasons for it: often laziness or convenience but also ignorance. Living eco-friendly isn’t easy, but it’s a good thing to do and if everyone helps a little bit, we can add some green to the bigger picture, called planet earth.
We (just) have to pay attention to our environment (in both senses!). It will be to our benefit!