Recently I’ve read this post from Zaailingen. In this article Linda calculates the impact she has had on the environment the past year, and the sees wether she is living within the capacity of the earth or not. I was very curious. Not just about her, but also about me. I know I’ve been making some great steps and keep on growing, but how sustainable has my life been the past year? So, I took the test Linda has developed, to see how I’ve done myself.
Why I took the test
The test is very comprehensive and that’s why I chose to do this one. There are others, like the one from WWF to calculate your footprint. All those tests are okay, but not that great in my opinion, they are a little too simple. So, I was really excited when Linda developed one I could relate to, in terms of importance and accuracy. The test covers the most important aspects of a sustainable lifestyle in my opinion. It asks for the things you’ve bought, what you ate, where you’ve travelled, to number a few things. The score is counted in points and to live sustainable you’d have to have no more than 235 points.
I took the test, and as I’ve expected I didn’t do that well. Expected? Yes, I didn’t expect to do well, because I know I’ve done some things that harm the environment. More about that later. So, let’s see how I’ve done in every aspect. As for the bars, the green one is the average Dutch person, the yellow one is me. Since a Dutch person designed this test, the descriptions below are also in Dutch haha.
Stuff: the things I’ve bought
Okay. Let’s dive into my bankaccount and see how much I’ve bought in the past year. These things are no consumables, like make-up or food (at least, that’s what I think is important, and my consumables are low I think). These things are stuff. Stuff that you use or hang up your wall, like a camera or a painting. Second hand bought things are not included here, since there is no impact involved in that. Gifts given to me are also not included, since I find I don’t really have a say in that. Also, I have bought some gifts for others, things they’ve specificly asked for and not random things. Which I always do on birthdays. So I decided not to include that as well, since it isn’t for me. The average person in the Netherlands spends 2200 euro a years! I think that’s a lot! I spent 1598 the past year. I’m below average, but oh my, I think that is still a lot. But, I expected it, so I’ll explain. I bought two big things the past years which were just necessary and I couldn’t find second hand. These things are: my Apple lapop and my Fairphone. Apple is the most sustainable brand in electronics when it comes to laptops, it cost me 929 euros. Second hand is the best option here of course, but I couldn’t find it and I really needed another laptop for school and my webshop. Anyway, I just hope this laptop will last me years and years. Then my Fairphone, which was also necessary since I’ve had the iPhone 4 for soooo long and it totally broke down. You can read why I bought the Fairphone here and it cost me 534 euros. That already brings me to 1463 euros of the 1598 euros in total I spend. There were three account statements in my bank account that I didn’t recognize, at Dille and Kamille, Mediamarkt and Sisters IJsselstein Damesmode, of a total of 40 euros. Since I didn’t recognize them I counted them along, I figured that’d be fair. I bought a shirt for my handball team, which was kind of mandatory, 28 euros. Some underwear at H&M back in December 2017, 38 euros. That is something I will never do again, since I now know about sustainable underwear brands and personally hate what H&M does to the world. Then I also bought a front and back lamp for my bike, which I could not find second hand, it is now attached to my dynamo on my bike, 16 euros. This was necessary and is a once-in-years thing I hope. The last thing is a new produce bag I bought at Bezobalu in Prague, 5 euros. I would do the same thing now. Yes, it is new. But the bag is organic and I totally wanted the support the company. So, there is my 1598 euros. I am satisfied, really. Besides the phone and the laptop, and these were totally approved, I did well in my opinion. The only mistake (if you should call it that) is the underwear at H&M. I know the coming year will be soooo much lower, since I don’t need any big things the coming years (like my laptop or phone). This part already gives me 232 points, that means I have 3 points left for all the rest, well…
Yes! Of course meat is a big thing in this calculation, since it a huge thing in the whole ‘I-live-sustainable’ thing. I did perfect here, of course. I’ve been a proud vegetarian for more than 2.5 years now, so this aspect is of course better than the average. The average is 44 kilos of meat a year! Again, mind is blown. I have 0 points here. Fun fact: If you eat 135 grams of meat a day (which most people in my surroundings do) you already have 234 points. So, cutting meat is such an easy step to make to live more sustainable.
This part is kind of irrelevant for me I guess. It’s about our house, water, gas and energy consumption. I do not have a say in that. Well, yes I can shower shortly and don’t use that much energy, but that’s it really. I don’t get to choose our energy supplier, wether we would use gas or not (I’ve actually tried to convince my dad to switch to electric and offered to pay half of it, it did not work), wether we have solar panels or not. So, I don’t really feel responsible here. I do invest in public solar energy, so that is a good thing. My energy use is lower than average I think, but I filled it in as average, since I’m not sure. My water consumption is average I think, because long showers are my guilty pleasure. That’s literally the only thing I do not want to change I my life, when it comes to living more sustainable. I’ve cut meat and dairy, which saves 4180 liters of water in just one day (based on the Vegan Calculator), so in my opinion I can have that long shower! The average person uses up 442kW energy, 447m3 of gas and 43.8m3 a year (and I assumed I am average). This part gives me 86 points and that’s a lot in my opinion. I’m now already above the 235 I’m supposed to be below.
Traveling by car
This is strange, since I don’t own a car. But, I do drive sometimes, with others. I calculated those trips and I find that I do travel a lot. I play handball and for that we have to travel 10 times a year to other teams. I took a average of 40 km every trip, so that makes 400 km a year. We travel with 4 persons in one car, on average. Then I added 4 trips with 4 persons in one car to Haarlem, where family of mine lives, 1600 km. I added Prague and Texel, where I’ve been by car. Texel is 500 km and Prague 729 km, 1229 km with 5 persons in one car. Then, I’ve added 400 km with 2 persons in a car for all the other stuff, just a random guess really. A total of 3629 kilometers. I’ve though by not owning a car I didn’t travel that far, but it turns out that I travel further than I thought. Yet, I am way below average of 8745 km a year. Well. This part gives me 10 points, which surprised me in a good way here.
All other foods (besides meat, dairy and eggs)
This part was sort of hard to calculate. I eat a lot, yes, for a small person of 1.56 m (anybody who knows me can confirm that haha!). But, 70% of the impact here is caused by drinks, not by food. I’m thinking that’s coffee and tea. I don’t drink both of those, so I took 50% of the average person here. That must be fair. And I try to choose sustainable. fruit and veggies, with the lowest impact. The average is 2521 grams a day, I filled in 1261. This part gives me 28 points.
Flying by plane
This one is bad. Really bad. And I know it is. I’ve been on two holidays by plane this past year. To Fuerteventura (7600 km!) and Crete (6600 km!). A total of 14200 kilometers, that’s way more than average, which is 4198 km a year. This is something I really want to improve. Yet, it is hard. My father always chooses our holiday destination and I don’t really have a say (and that’s fair to be honest, since he is the one who pays haha). Also, I tried to go by bus to Crete, where I went with my friends on holiday, but it seemed impossible. Next year I will try to convince them to go to a destination where I can go by public transportation. This part gives me a total of 183 points, waaaay to much.
New Clothing I’ve bought
So, this is basically the same as I just mentioned above. I bought two pieces of underwear, one shirt for handball and a produce bag. 4 pieces in total, less than 1kg I think. The average is 36 new pieces of 18 kilos, which blows my mind really. I used be even worse than that. But! This is not the only things I’ve bought. These are the only new things I’ve bought. I’ve bought lots of great secondhand clothing! But these aren’t included here since there is no impact in that. I have improved sooo much in this aspect when I compare myself now to my 14 years old Primark-addicted self. This parts gives me 6 points.
Eggs and dairy
Right now I can call myself a vegan, but it hasn’t been like that this full past year. I’ve gone vegan in November, so that’s 10 months. The other two months I’ve consumed eggs and dairy. I took the average of each, divided it with 12 and then multiplied 2 times, which is 2/12 of the average person, for the two months I wasn’t vegan. I feel pretty good about this, but next year will be better. I just fell in love with this new lifestyle and I will surely continue it. I must say that I’m not perfect (especially on holidays with a language barrier), but that’s okay. This part gives me 8 points, but next year it will be 0 luckily!
This part surprised me. I travel a lot by train. I study in Deventer so that is not something I can change. I assumed that I went 5 times a week to Deventer and back home, which is 600 km a week. That is 7200 km a year, oh my. I don’t go to school every day, but I do travel somewhere else from time to time (like Harderwijk, where my boyfriend lives). So, if I took 5 times, I figured I’d be safe for all that. Then I went to Paris by trains this year, which is 1200 km, and I went to Den Bosch one weekend, which is 350 km. A total of 8700 km. The average is 1016 a year. So yes, I’m way above that. But, that’s okay for me. Public transportation is the most sustainable way to travel. So if I want to make changes I’d have to fly less and travel less by car, but more by public transportation if I still want to travel (and I do). This part gives me 40 points.
How have I done?
You can guess this answer already I believe, I have not done perfect. But! Nobody is perfect and there is always room for improvement. That’s why I took the test in the first place, to see what is going well and what is not. The average Dutch person had a total of 940 points, that is more than 4 times this earth can take. Which means we need 4 earths, and we don’t have them (duh). I have *drum roll* a total of 593 points. Which is a disappointment to be honest, even though I expected it to be bad. If everybody lives like I do, we’d need more than 2 earths. Better, than average yes, but I don’t really care about that. We have just one earth, that’s it.
What will I do to improve?
I’m trying to make this coming year a year of which I will buy nothing new. I’ve found this past year that I can do just fine without buying anything new. That’s sound kind of hypocritical, I know, since I’ve bought two mayor things. But, I hope these will last me years, so I think I can do that. If I cut my points there I am down to 355, that’s great! But, next year I will add my consumables to the category ‘stuff’ since I didn’t count that this year. Soap, suncream and make-up for example. I think it’ll be more fair that way. Then, I also want to continue living fully vegan, which will cut me down to 347. Next, I want to fly less or cut it completely. This is a huge deal for me. I can’t always choose, that’s why. I could say ‘no’ to the full holiday, but that would make my sustainable life less fun, and that’s not the point at all! If I manage not to fly at all, I would be down to 174. That sounds truly amazing to me, I am definitely on to a challenge here.
A little sidenote here: I mentioned in the ‘about me‘ page that I want to make this world a better place, I want to live an eco-positive life. So, in my opinion, if I live within the capacity of the world (hopefully next year!) and do good things for the world, I will accomplish that! When I go trash-picking for instance, or volunteer in another way. Of course, I will always try to make my impact as low as possible.
Last thing, I really recommend you to visit www.zaailingen.nl, a Dutch blog written by Linda. She is the developer of the test I just took, which I’ve explained earlier. So, all the credits for that go to her! On her website you can also find the substantiation for the scores given.
And you, how’d you do this year? And what are your goals for the coming year?