The six questions you should ask yourself to know if you can improve the world


Live an sustainable living It has always been very important, but as time goes by, and caring for the planet is becoming a greater (and essential) challenge, sustainable living is not just an option, it is almost the norm.

There are things that from our individual position we cannot change, but instead of focusing on great actions to help the environment that become endless, we can focus on the small changes in routine and habits that can make us do our bit. To do this, we must activate our “sustainable” chip and take on new routines in order to improve our relationship with the planet. We spoke with María Negro, author of the book «Change the World» (Ed. Zenith), disseminator on sustainability and founder of Consume con COCO, so that she can solve for us the necessary keys we need to turn our life around in sustainability.

Cover of «Change the world»
Cover of «Change the world» – Sandra Santacana

What small changes in habits can make us have a more sustainable life?

To start leading a more sustainable life, the most important thing is to open your eyes and ask yourself questions. Question if the way we are living is compatible with the survival of the planet. If we need that coat that we want to buy, how can we avoid generating so much garbage, where does it come from and who made the shirt we are wearing, what do we need to be happy, what is our concept of success, etc. There the search begins.

In the book «Change the World» there is a method to lead a more sustainable life through ten simple steps. There is no single path, they are all valid, the important thing is that we begin to act. Of the ten, we can highlight three “powerful habits»:

1. Minimize our waste both in the kitchen and in the bathroom, avoiding food waste, buying in bulk, leaving aside all disposable items, betting on solid cosmetics and reusable and durable objects.

2. Reduce our needs, simplify our life and know ourselves more.

3. Consume responsibly reflecting on where our money is going and what type of companies do we support with it.

What is sustainability if we talk about food? What can we do in this area to be more sustainable?

What is on our plate is intimately linked with the environment. In addition to avoiding food waste, we can bet on the consumption of seasonal food and proximity and of ecological origin. We can also make a difference by reducing the consumption of meat and foods of animal origin.

“FAO estimates that the livestock sector, especially beef, is responsible for the emission of 14.5% of greenhouse gases”

* (Source: Book Changes the World, María Negro Ed. Zenith 2020)

It is not about becoming all vegan, but by drastically reducing our consumption of meat and animal protein and promoting other foods of plant origin such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals or seeds, we will be much more sustainable and efficient. We will save resources such as water, time, money, arable space and CO2 emissions; we will avoid deforestation of natural reserves and pollution of soil, air and water, as well as the sacrifice of millions of animals.

What if we talk about clothing and textiles? What can we do in this area to be more sustainable?

There are many things we can do to have a more sustainable wardrobe. First of all, extend the life of what we already have. The most sustainable garment is one that already exists. Betting on the second hand is an option that respects the environment, since we will be taking advantage of the resources, materials and the footprint that have been necessary to manufacture that garment. Also, it is good to encourage exchange, rent, loan. And of course, if we buy a new garment, which comes from a sustainable, ethical and local brand.

On the other hand, it is goodor look at the labels and certifications when buying new garments: what materials are they made of, where are they made, is this brand from my city or country? Likewise, it is more sustainable to bet on fabrics of natural, ecological and recycled origin, as well as quality, resistant and durable materials.

Black maria
Black Mary – Olga Vallejo

In which “fields” is a sustainable mindset essential but generally lacking?

What is most difficult for us is to change the ideas and attachment we have to the material. We have been sold on the idea that “we are what we have” and without wanting to, we have believed it. We live in a throwaway society based on excesses. We have closets full of clothes, bathrooms full of cosmetics, refrigerators full of food that we end up throwing away, etc. All this forces us to live too attached to the material and base our existence, identity and self-esteem on “having” rather than on “being”.

In my opinion, the key to get out of this wheel of consumerism, waste and lack of awareness is to stop, reflect and take time to get to know each other and take care of ourselves more (and better). The more we know ourselves and the more connected with ourselves and with the environment we are, the less we will need to fill our lacks and emotional voids through things we do not need.

Now that Christmas is coming, can you give us some tips to be more sustainable at this time?

Stop, reflect and get out of the mental noise of stimuli, announcements, and advertising claims. Think about what the meaning of Christmas is for us: traditions, spending time with the family, etc. Christmas, on many occasions, is synonymous with consumerism and waste. In times like these we need to consume responsibly. Giving away experiences, things made by us, betting on buying second hand, needing less, but thinking about who we support with our money.

It is also important where we buy, many times this is essential, and that is why it is good to be more critical and investigate what is behind brands and companies.

In general, what changes can we make in our house to be more sustainable?

We can make a lot of changes: buy in bulk at the time of shopping to minimize our waste in our kitchen; plan our weekly menus and practice batch cooking to avoid wasting and wasting less food; buy local and seasonal foods; save water and energy by controlling the temperature of our heating or air conditioning; bet on appliances with the A +++ certification; or, for example, repair household appliances that are broken to fight obsolescence.

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