Low Impact Life

have less, do more, be more

Category: Sustainability (Page 1 of 6)

Food and climate change

I recently took out my book on how what we eat affects the climate to brush up and thought that I’d share some tips when I was at it.

To start off food is a very hard topic to write about. On the one hand I want to eat what’s best for my body (see my post here) and on the other hand I don’t want to damage the environment and the climate. The choices we make can have a large impact for example if you buy local Swedish salad it has released about 0.5kg carbon dioxide equivalents compared to 4.0 kg carbon dioxide equivalents from imported greenhouse grown salad.  Also how we get to the food store is important. If we drive there most choices in the actual store won’t make a difference. Food today is so cheap and available that we can have an unlimited choice of produce all year round. It’s therefore good to decide what items should be considered a luxury in our homes based on their climate impact.

Here are some tips on how to eat climate smart in Sweden:

  • Eat seasonally and locally
  • Limit rice and prawns
  • Limit imported fruit and vegetables during May-November when there are lots of Swedish choices to choose from
  • During the winter months supplement with organic imported fruits and vegetables and also frozen berries
  • See exotic fruits as a luxury
  • Minimize meat consumption
  • Sausage is a climate friendly choice
  • Locally grown root vegetables, beans and peas have very low climate impact
  • Herring is the best fish to eat otherwise fish should be avoided/limited
  • Mussles are a good choice
  • Avoid palm oil
  • It’s usually better from a climate perspective to choose local conventionally grown fruit and vegetables than imported organic ones (this needs to be assessed in each case though)
  • Walk och bike to the store, if using the car only do big shops or better yet order food online so the food comes straight from the warehouse
  • The packaging is responsible for about 30% of the emissions – minimize packaging.
  • Glass is good from a production perspective but is heavy. Buy local produce in glass containers
  • Paper packaging is the best alternative
  • Manufacturing aluminum cans is energy intensive
  • Plastic is a good alternative from a climate perspective (although I don’t use plastic for other reasons)
  • Minimize food waste (see my guide for tips)

 

 

Beehive

Here at the summer place the neighbors have gone together and started a beehive this year. I got to dress up in protective clothing and get a proper look today.

A bee colony is so fascinating! This hive had around 20 000 bees and they have already started to produce some honey along with many larvae. We also saw the queen that lays all the eggs (which can be around 2000 eggs/day!).

Bees are very important for our food production. They pollinate around a third of the food we eat!! The bees give us this ecosystem service for free compared to having to do this ourselves which would be extremely costly or might even be impossible. Unfortunately bee populations over the world are declining steadily. They are threatened by pesticides, diseases, monocultures and habitat destruction.

Since I’ve read a lot about ecosystem services, nature conservation and the threats the bees face it was really fun to actually see a hive in real life. Also I love the fact that they are producing their own honey (which we will hopefully get to taste at some point)!

Swedens first national cycling strategy

I was at the launch of Swedens first national cycling strategy in Dome of Vision today. Since I’m involved with cycling and cycling infrastructure though work I’m very glad that the importance of cycling has been raised to the national level in Sweden. The Swedish infrastructure minister Anna Johansson presented it!

 

Adopt a piece of the planet

NASA has started an initiative for Earth day 2017 where you can enter your name and adopt a randomized part of the planet. My adopted piece was water/ocean floor off the coast of Africa. Not a big surprise considering the planet is made up of 70% water so the chances are high that you will get a piece of water. There was also some data included about the location. John also got a piece of water in the south Atlantic ocean.

 

Climate Calculator

WWF has launched a new tool for finding out what your climate impact is: the Climate Calculator (Swedish). They have developed it together with SEI (Swedish Environmental Insitute) and of course I had to try it. They go through 5 different areas: Bostaden (accommodation), Biffen (food), Bilen (transport), Butiken (shopping) and Samhället (services in society ex. schools). Here is my result:

Even though I have less than half of the emissions that an average Swede has (5,27 ton CO2 equivalents compared to 11 ton CO2e) we would still need 1,8 more earths than we have to support my lifestyle. And we would need another 3,2 earths to live like the average Swede. That is quite unsettling since we only have ONE…

In general when you are working on the details like I am I don’t think the tool is completely applicable though since the minimum option isn’t always zero. Instead I think it’s a great tool if you are starting your Low Impact Life journey. It can help you to figure out which part of your life has the highest climate impact. This could be your starting point where you can look up different actions to take to reduce your CO2 emissions.

Earth hour

Time to turn off your lights for Earth hour!

Low Impact Life Guide

I’ve finally completed the Low Impact Life Guide!!!

The thought behind this 14 page guide is to gather information and tips on how to live a Low Impact Life. It focuses on the different areas that I write about in the blog: Things & Clothes, Bathroom & Cleaning, Kitchen & Food and Home & Transport. I  hope that you find it helpful and that it inspires you to reduce your negative impact on the planet.

Low Impact Life Guide 2017

 

Earth Hour: 25 of March

On the 25th of March it is Earth Hour at 20.30-21.30 local time. Started by WWF it’s the largest environmental manifestation where millions of people, organisations and companies all over the world turn of their lights and electricity for an hour. There are also many events in connection to this hour to support actions against climate change. So don’t forget to turn off your lights on the 25th of you want to participate!

Stop the food waste with Selina Juul

We throw away one third of the food produced. That’s 1,3 billion tonnes every year that is wasted. This food could feed 1 billion people.

I watched a clip about one woman Selina Juul that has helped reduce food waste in Denmark with 25%! She’s from Russia and suffered food shortages when communism collapsed. When she arrived in Denmark she was shocked that so much food was getting wasted. She spends every day fighting food waste in any way that she can. She’s worked with supermarkets, the government, addressed consumers, started a program for school children, given 80 000 doggy bags to resturants and much more! She’s changed the mentality in Denmark concering food waste. Here what she has to say about food waste:

It’s disrespectful. So food waste is basically also the lack of respect for our nature, for our society, for the people that produce the food, the animals and the lack of respect for your time and money because you throw the food away that you have been buying.

One of her TEDtalks:

 

The Amazing Blocket

In Sweden Blocket is a natural part of most peoples lives. It’s a website that allows you to sell and buy second hand things all over Sweden. It’s great! I’ve used Blocket to buy and sell many things over the years for example I’ve bought my sofa table, Nike running shoes, iPad, mobile phone and sold clothes, sofa, chairs (and much more!). Now on my path to Low Impact Life Blocket is going to take an even bigger role in my life since I have a goal not to buy anything new that can be rented, borrowed or bought second hand.

What’s interesting is that while most Swedes wont give Blocket an extra thought (since it’s so ingrained in our way of selling and buying second hand) it’s beeing used internationally as a very successful example of a sharing economy solution that really works. The fact that close to everyone in Sweden knows about the website and 8 out of 10 have bought or sold something on Blocket is very impressive indeed.

Blocket has calculated with the help of IVL (Swedish Environmental Institute) that the stuff that is bought and sold by Blocket instead of buying new saves:

1 553 000 CO2 every year!

  • They compare it to if all the roads in Sweden were empty for a month
  • If 16 000 football fields were planted with trees
  • That all the Swedish cows stopped burping for 6 months

Pretty cool! So next time you’re thinking of buying something check out Blocket first!

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