It means helping everyone who makes day-to-day decisions to be more environmentally friendly. According to Google Trends, in the last 90 days, search interest in “How to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle” has increased by more than 4,550%.
As many of us find our new normal while sheltering at home, we wanted to share some of our favourite simple sustainability tips.
Saving the planet is saving money.
If I would tell you that storing your food in the right place, freezing the leftovers, using the dishwasher (instead of washing dishes by hand), and turning the water heater down just a few degrees could help protect the environment, you might think that it sounds too simple.
However, the biggest impact on the planet comes from only three things: food, water and energy use.
If each of us makes a few small changes, we can all make a big difference (and save money while doing it).
According to Google, the “how-to” search has seen a spike in sustainability queries related to food, recycling and composting.
“How to freeze” has been a popular question. Here are a few of the answers I found particularly helpful:
1. How to freeze milk? Place the milk in your freezer in its original plastic container or glass freezer-safe container. Make sure to leave room to allow the milk to expand, so remove some milk if needed. When you’re ready to use the frozen milk, allow it to thaw in the fridge.
2. How to freeze eggs? To freeze whole eggs, you simply mix the eggs together and pour the mixture into either an ice cube tray or a freezer-safe container or bag. If you will need to use individual eggs, it would make more sense to make sure each ice cube tray holds only one egg so that you can easily separate them.
3. How to freeze broccoli? Broccoli—florets and stems—must be blanched for effective freezing. If you freeze it raw, you’ll wind up with bitter, drab green, shrivelled stems. Blanching or steaming preserves the bright green colour and tasty flavour. You can either blanch in boiling water for three minutes or steam for five minutes.
So, what are the most powerful actions for sustainable living from home?
1. Reducing plastic waste and switching to reusables.
2. Take care of your energy and water consumption, if you can install some energy-efficient lightbulbs and taps, do it!
3. Opting for local produce.
4. Embracing natural cleaning products.
5. Rejecting fast fashion. Just stop buying clothes.
6. Reducing single-use plastic consumption.
7. Composting, you can also invite your neighbours!
8. Reusing and recycling as many items as possible.
9. Sleep well, if you sleep well, you reduce your anxiety, and with this, your consumption of food and energy.
10. Opt for board games or a book if you feel bored.
11. Save your money in ethical banks (We will discuss it more in a future post at The Global School)
Have you also seen the exponential surge of Wellness and Wellbeing courses, coaches, workshop, retreats, etc.?
COVID-19 is forcing us to rethink our wellbeing, however, we have crashed to the wall: Happiness is expensive, this is the case of Europe.
For some of us who come from the global south, we find the concept of happiness as a commodity, extremely weird and complex, more related to the industrialised world than a universal value. Now, everyone wants access to happiness, but none dare to challenge the status quo of an accumulation based society anxious by consumerism:
Like working out harder to lose weight but keep eating pizza every night.
You are paying more for “happiness” than taxes.
Recently, a study was released about how expensive is Happiness in Europe, published by Mckinsey: The pandemic’s negative impact on well-being in April was up to 3.5 times the losses experienced in GDP; This means, for every euro lost due to the economic burden, 3 euros were lost due to life-dissatisfaction.1
For example, If you are earning a salary of 2,700 euros per month, the economic collapse due to COVID-19 wiped out on average 540 euros of that salary, but your life-dissatisfaction wiped out 1,620 euros, transforming your real salary into 1,080 euros per month or a cut of 60% of your salary!1
Happiness is expensive in Europe and getting more and more expensive. If you embed this, into the ecological footprint of every European country, consuming 3 up to 9 countries available resources, or per capita: 2.8 planets for satisfying the European consumer2, turns out that European happiness is expensive, luxury, exclusive and an unsustainable goal, near 10 times more expensive than any other human in the world (Except USAmericans).
Furthermore, if you consider the high addiction of alcohol and drugs in Europe, 200% higher than in the global south countries 3, you start to draw a better picture of the problem:
OurExpensive, Destructive and Non-sustainable life-dissatisfaction for ourselves and the planet.
What about the world happiness report? Well, it just confirms it.
Even the WHP, where Europe ranks on top, acknowledges this: Industrialised societies relies mainly on GDP and income for their life-satisfaction, reducing happiness to a simple commodity.
Unlike the Happy Planet Index, placing ourecological footprint and personal wellbeing as the key components of life satisfaction, ranking on top the countries close to the Ecuador.
Communities around the world are begging rich countries to reduce consumption, and learn how to live happier and sustainably, like the campaign from the Himalayas #ILiveSimply, where people highly hit by climate change, are joining to call the world in a single shot out:
“Please live simply, so others can simply live¨
Now we see funded research, training, certifications, workshops, etc. An army of persons is trying to incorporate wellbeing to their everyday life, but at the same time, they find themselves caught in a complex system based on high consumption fuelled by an anxious economy.
As a foreigner in this land, I often face the same feeling when another foreigner goes to my country and I find out that people still buy water in plastic bottles for survival.
Water is a human right, and it should be available cost-free. Can happiness be considered as essential as water for our existence?
I want to believe that all this wellbeing, wellness and happiness movement in Europe and industrial countries are based in an inside-out transformation for the well of our relationship with ourselves and our planet, but numbers say otherwise, maybe moments of happiness will become another commodity in this accumulation-based society.
In only a few weeks of reduced physical exercise, heightened stress and anxiety, limited access to diagnostics and care are likely to have longer-term health consequences for every European resident, which eventually will turn out in a public health issue and a priority for policymakers.
How can policymakers design real wellbeing policies after a long tradition of enlightenment and individual responsibility?
How can governments think not only beyond GDP but activities, incentives and metrics for a mentally healthy society? Is possible a European policy on living happily with less? Happiness is expensive and is getting out of control.
Furthermore, how can Europe think about holistic development and personal wellbeing in the middle of a technological war where Europe has decided to stand up and oil the economic machinery as a geopolitical strategy, putting even more pressure to its taxpayers (aka citizens).
It´s an unknown territory where there is no book or manual written, where it´s finally time to open our minds into a more holistic approach on the development, more human and less economical, on how other cultures live more prosperous with less impact in their mental health and the health of the planet.
A New Formula of Happiness. Our development framework.
After more than 10 years of working in more than 20 countries across 4 continents, and having a sensitive understanding of what the most satisfying cultures have in common,
I have summed them up in 3 easy goals: the Humanity Development Goals (HDGs), an inside-out invitation to rethink development in a holistic way rather than a single policy intervention. The HDGs complement and go beyond The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
1. Mckinsey Group. Report: Well-being in Europe: Addressing the high cost of COVID-19 on life satisfaction: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/europe/well-being-in-europe-addressing-the-high-cost-of-covid-19-on-life-satisfaction
2. Footprint Network Report 2019.
3. Our World in Data. https://www.footprintnetwork.org/content/uploads/2019/05/WWF_GFN_EU_Overshoot_Day_report.pdf
I spent the last few days in the mountains celebrating X-MAS with my dear ones and while relaxing I finally managed to read one of the best books I have read in ages- ” Doughnut Economics ” by Kate Raworth. I wanted to take some time offline but I have to share this as I hope it inspires some of you to take a different look at economics in 2020.
Finally, I found the book that brings together all the hypothesis and concepts I was drawn to over the past years and puts them into a holistic picture how we can look at economics in a 21st century way.
When researching about the author Kate Raworth- an economist at the University of Oxford, who calls herself a “renegade” economist- she is sometimes referred to as the “John Maynard Keynes of the 21st century”.
From my point of view, her simple and brilliant book Doughnut Economics offers a game-changing analysis of our current economic system and is an inspiration for thinkers how to look at our world in a different way. She presents a very convincing concept on how to create economies that are regenerative and distributive by design- a subject very dear to my heart.
Kate Raworths economic theory is based on the picture of a doughnut. The doughnut has a social foundation and human well-being in the middle, and is itself ‘the safe and just space for humanity’ and for a ‘regenerative and distributive economy’, surrounded on the outer edge by the ecological ceiling of ‘critical planetary degradation’.
The overall target should be to remain within the doughnut to ensure that we neither fall into conditions of social inequality and suffer shortfalls, such as in water and food, nor allow growth to overshoot into threatening environmental collapse.
Kate Raworths research on the history of economics and where our guiding concepts originate from was the most appealing element of the book for me. As a person educated in economics I “grew” up with the paradigm of economic growth. The thoughts of the neoliberal Chicago School and their concept dominated my way of thinking about the economy.
And most of you who studied economics for sure came across Samulsons “Economics” textbook. The way we learned economics then still dominates our decision-making for the future, guides our investment decisions, and shapes our responses to climate change, inequality, and other environmental and social challenges that define our times. However, those concepts do not suit the challenges we are facing today.
“The fundamental ideas that guide our economy today are centuries out of date yet are still taught in college courses worldwide and still used to address critical issues in government and business alike!”
This is dangerous and the effects can be seen in the in rising inequality and the environmental challenges we are facing nowadays. That’s why it is time, says Kate Raworth, to revise our economic thinking for the 21st century.
She proposes 7 ways of thinking – that in her view should guide 21st-century economists. With those seven ways, I can very much relate. How about you?
The 7 Principles of the Doughnut Economy…
… and my thoughts on them
1. Change the goal—from GDP to the Doughnut. Doughnut Economics
The continuous growth of the gross national product (GDP) has been the goal of mainstream economics’ ever since the mid-20th century. Raworth argues economic growth cannot by itself solve all other problems our societies are facing and it cannot last forever, due to the scarcity of resources. Delivering well-being for people and the planet (our “planetary household”) as laid out in the picture of the doughnut should be the main purpose of economics instead of growth and profits.
Ever since I got in touch with the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development goals they are a guiding star for the impact I want to make in the world. The Sustainable Development Goals provide a blueprint for the transition to a healthier planet and a more just world — for present and future generations.
Those goals are reflected in the inner and outer dimension of the doughnut. They are a powerful concept interlinking the social, ecological and economic aspects of sustainability.When I started my first activities in the social business world my major concern was inequality.
But studying migration management I more and more learned about the interconnectivity of social and ecological aspects, which led me to support Fridays for Future and join Entrepreneurs for Future and actively advocate for stronger political action on climate-related issues as social issues can only be really solved if ecological and economical issues are also taken care of.
As a social entrepreneur, I feel that running a business on more KPIs than just financial growth by adding the social and ecological impact is very satisfying and I am deeply convinced, that this could also be a motivating way for all players in our society.
2. See the big picture—from self-contained market to embedded economy. Doughnut Economics
In neoliberal economics, the market rules. It’s supposed to most efficiently allocate resources when left to its own devices. The regulation ought to be minimal, the state’s role restricted to providing security to its citizens and protecting private property. Society is irrelevant, and the Earth’s resources seen as unlimited and thus left out of the equation.
Kate Raworth advocates stepping back and taking a broader view to see the economy how it really is, embedded within Earth’s natural systems and within human society. Within the economy itself, households, the market, the state and the commons all have an equally important role to play in meeting human needs. None should be given primacy over the others, but they should all be supported to serve human welfare in mutually complementing ways. I could not agree more to this holistic picture
3. Nurture human nature—from rational economic man to social adaptable humans. Doughnut Economics
Neoclassical economics bases its theories on a limited view of human nature, the notorious endlessly rationalizing and self-maximizing homo economicus. Kate Raworth tries to draw a picture of him: Standing alone, with money in his hand, ego in his heart, a calculator in his head and nature at his feet. He hates work, he loves luxury and he knows the price of everything. The whole concept was brought up to make it easier to argue economic models.
Raworth argues that we need a new picture of the person we picture as a base for our economic models taking into account our capacities for solidarity, empathy and reciprocity.How I hated the model of the “homo economicus” when studying economics! I remember long arguments then up to now that humans are not selfish and ego-driven.
The really bad part about “homo economicus” is that studies show that the more we learn about it the more selfish we become so it is more than time to come up with a better picture – we are so much more than a dollar hunting animal.
Why would we set out and found charities, help others, found social businesses and the like if men would just be selfish?
4. Get savvy with systems—from mechanical equilibrium to dynamic complexity. Doughnut Economics
The book brings up the historic context of how economics as a science was shaped. Economics became a science when economists started to introduce diagrams and concepts resembling Newtons diagrams and mechanic thinking. Economists have for a long time strived to simplify economic models to resemble linear mechanical models.
However, our world gets more and more complex day by day and the only way to master this complexity is system thinking. Thinking in terms of systems can do a far better job helping us understand how our world works and what actions we could take to reverse negative developments. I think this is especially true if you look at fast technological developments that will shape our future
5. Design to distribute—from ‘growth will even it up again’ to distributive by design. Doughnut Economics
Raworth says inequality is neither good for growth nor a necessary stage of development. On the contrary, more unequal societies are shown to be less healthy and happy and to face a higher degree of environmental degradation.
Redistributing income is not enough to address the situation, for most of the rise in inequality we see today is due to wealth concentration resulting from returns on capital.When we started our venture goood network we were lucky to work with Karl Wagner, former director of external affairs of the Club of Rome. T
he discussions we had when working on our manifesto were very inspiring and I learned a lot about how to look at the world in a different way.Karl co-authored a discussion paper of the Club of Rome- The Values Quest where he argues in the line of Kate Raworth that our theory and practice of economy do not rest on natural laws but on the underlying values.
To have an unequal society instead of an equal one is our choice, it is not a given by nature. To change the world for the better we need to address values and the narratives they are embedded in. Based on his thoughts I started to rethink what I can do to help change the current system and this is why I started to speak publicly and advocate for purpose and sustainability.
6. Create to regenerate—from ‘growth will clean it up again’ to regenerative by design. Doughnut Economics
As regards the environment, our current economic setup is eating up Earth’s resources at one end and spewing out waste from the other. We should instead strive to design a circular economy with all the energy and resources in constant flow – reused, renewed, returned to the planet’s life cycle where the “waste” of one process can be turned into input for another process.
The circular economy is rather a new concept for me, but I think it is super fascinating. As a consumer, I am drawn to intelligent products based on circular concepts and as an innovator and entrepreneur, I see opportunities emerging from new collaborations.
One of my goals for 2020 is to learn more about the concept and how we as a network of system-thinkers can contribute. I am looking forward to an interesting exchange and discussions on the topic with all of you.
7. Be agnostic about growth—from growth addicted to growth agnostic. Doughnut Economics
So my wish for 2020: Let´s break free of our old picture of economics and transform to a 21-century concept of economics. Even if you are on a New Years diet- get involved with the Doughnut- I am convinced it will serve us and our world well.
Passionate, internationally recognized award-winning Social Innovator.Entrepreneur and serial founder of various ventures e.g. Adjacent Possible Network (Consulting), GOOOD Network(Impact Incubation) and goood mobile Germany & Austria (B2C mobile operators) as well as co-founder of an impact initiative for social inclusion.
Passionate about social impact and impact innovation, I believe in the power of shaping a positive tomorrow by transforming traditional business models for the next generation.Corporate Executive background with 15+ years of track record in managing leading international ICT companies in very challenging market environments, serving millions of customers.Continuous consulting assignments (strategy & operational tactics development, business planning) and business development with a focus on customer experience, digital transformation and impact innovation.
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