Hey lovely readers, yes all six of you! :)
I beg of you to please pay attention.
In the last few weeks I've been very inspired by the Extinction Rebellion movement and did a lot of research on climate change. You may have heard that we only have 10 years left to drastically reduce our carbon emissions to avoid climate catastrophe.
Sustainable levels are 3 metric tons
of carbon dioxide per person per year. Other sources say it's 2 t. Please take a look at the global carbon atlas
, this graph
, or this pie chart
to see just how bad it is. Wikipedia has data up to 2014
. According to which my country (Germany) emits 8.9 t, the US emits a monstrous 16.5 t, and Australia and Canada emit almost as much as the US.
Instead of real action, everyone seems to play the blame game. Instead of accepting that they are the two worst emitters, the US blames China and China blames the US. Liberals think capitalism can somehow be greened (lmao). Smug anti-capitalists claim that there's no ethical consumption under capitalism to avoid necessary lifestyle changes like going vegan. Young people blame old people while being the most consumerist generation that has ever lived and most old people stubbornly refuse to change their ways.
The truth is we, the people of the global north, and I mean
all of us who aren't literally homeless, imprisoned or seriously ill, need to make very drastic lifestyle changes as well as take up activism. We need to do all the things!
Unfortunately the "eco-friendly" crowd who are mostly white and middle class have turned sustainability into an identity, and the worst of them, the Zero Waste idiots reduced it to Instagram aesthetics. According to official statistics their environmental footprint is actually bigger than average, because they're not willing to give up their comfortable lifestyles.
I have taken almost every environmental footprint test there is. They're all a little different, they measure slightly different things and aren't super accurate. They will give you a good estimate however. Please take some of these tests yourself!
Here are some of my results: Carbonfootprint.com
"Your footprint is 3.02 tonnes per year."
The German Environment Agency
says "4.26 t" (they say German average is 11.60 t)
The Ecological Footprint Quiz by Center for Sustainable Economy
says: "Congratulations, you are living an ecologically conscientious lifestyle. If everyone lived like you do, we would need only 0.38 Earths."
Other tests I took came up with about 3-4 t CO2 or below one earth. Overall, that's pretty good but there is still room for improvement.
I'm not telling you this to show off, but to tell you my secret, because unlike these green lifestyle bloggers, I actually know how to live sustainably. Brace yourself, you're not going to like it:
I'm poor, and I have been poor my entire life.
My current monthly income (disability pension) is ca. 1193 € (1335 USD)
After rent, heating, water, electricity, internet bills, I have 410 € (447 USD) left.
By global, and even European standards I'm rich of course. I'm definitely lucky that I'm not British, where they treat disabled people like this
. But please, Americans, Australians and Canadians especially, consider my lifestyle and whether you'd be willing to live like me:
I'm almost 50 and have never taken a flight or been a holiday. (Not gonna lie, the holiday part really depresses me.)
I've never owned a car (obvious, since I have low vision.)
My last train ride (Hamburg-Berlin) was about 5 years ago and my last train ride to the south of Germany was at least 10 years ago.
I generally don't even take public transport, I walk everywhere, even if that means 3 hour walks.
I never eat at restaurants (about once a year I'm lucky and someone invites me.)
I don't smoke, drink and very rarely go out.
I'm strictly vegan.
I live in a very small and cheap apartment, although I realize that this is becoming a luxury these days. It's always been a giant luxury for me because I've been homeless several times in my life and in my early 20s lived in the most squalid squats imaginable. Young people who complain about how they can't afford to buy a house like their parents' generation may wanna take note.
I've never been to a Starbucks, haven't had a TV since 2004. Never used a smartphone. I don't even own a mobile phone anymore. I still have a landline (remember those?) Almost everything I own, like the small laptop I'm using right now is second hand. I recently got a used iPhone as a gift but I only use it as a camera. It takes much better pictures than the old second hand Nokia I've used previously.
All my furniture is second hand, either from junk shops or I found them in the streets. My towels, lamps, bed sheets, dishes, clothes, shoes, you guessed it: thrifted, dumpster dived, found or swapped.
Exceptions: with the help of a charitable foundation, I managed to replace my washing machine and fridge (both second hand) with new models that are small, eco-friendly and specifically for single households. It already paid off electricity wise. Despite my very low income I chose an electricity provider that offers 100% renewable energy which costs more, thanks to the German government's shitty subsidizing.
Other exceptions are mattresses, pillows and the like to avoid bedbugs and dust mites. And underwear! Although I have bought second hand panties, bras and tights in the past when I could find them in my size. There's bleach and liquid laundry disinfectant for these things. I spray second hand shoes with rubbing alcohol and let it dry before wearing.
I do however draw the line at dumpster dived food. That's just too gross and after years of having to go to food pantries where you get really low quality junk. I insist on eating healthy and fresh food. I don't waste food either. Every Sunday I eat what's left in the fridge and needs to go. Almost empty, I can easily clean it and shop new food on Mondays.
Sooooo, to wrap it all up, to prevent catastrophic climate change my lifestyle needs to become the norm withing the next 10 years. Do you see this happening? We've currently got the opposite: my way of living is considered extreme. How extreme? Just take a mental note every time someone bashes a vegan for being extremist, self-righteous, "religious" or militant. And that's just the food situation. Now imagine the level of public hostility when someone says: no more air flights, no cars, plant vegetables on your lawn. And for the love of Earth, stop shopping!
Here's the thing, though, I'm living a good life, I'm happy to find, create, repair or maintain things instead of consuming them. There's a real sense of accomplishment to be had. It is possible and doable. But you -YES YOU!- need to start right now.
Thanks for reading.