I’m not sure if you had the opportunity last year to wander down the streets of Milan during the 2021 Fuorisalone. I did and was very intrigued by the ‘Natural Capital’ exhibition held in the Brera botanical gardens. The design and innovation studio Carlo Ratti and associates, together with Eni, designed a new and practical way to visualise the volume of carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere by each human in the course of their life. That’s 28.145,88 kilogrammes in the average life of 85 years.
The exposition compared human impact with the ability of different types of plants to absorb and stock CO2. As a matter of fact, every human being that takes on any type of daily activity releases a certain amount of greenhouse gasses (in particular CO2) therefore increasing their individual carbon footprint. The world in which we live has drastically changed in the last decades and it is these changes that have fostered the creation of activities that have a bigger ecological impact. The increase in greenhouse gas emissions has accelerated the climate change that we are all living in now.
But is there anything we can do on an individual scale to decrease our environmental footprint?
- Calculate your individual footprint.
There are different companies that try to instruct us on how to be more conscious of the effect of our actions. The Global Footprint Network has created a series of questions on our daily habits, to make us assess how to better behave for the future of our planet but especially for ourselves and the people we care about. You can find the quiz at this link: https://www.footprintcalculator.org/home/en
- Be aware of the origin and resource consumption of the food we eat.
It’s easy to recommend eating seasonal and vegetarian, but it’s more important to understand the impact of all that we consume. Depending on how it has been produced and bred, the food on our plates utilises a different amount of resources. Being aware of this is the first step towards more sustainable behaviours overall.
- Opt for more sustainable transport options.
The core idea is to never overturn people’s lives all of a sudden, however, there are some small steps – and not only physical steps – that we all can take that could have a big impact. Public transport systems, in major cities especially, should by now – in 2022 – be sophisticated enough to ensure easy, quick and especially favourable movements. Unfortunately, this is not the case in many urbanised contexts. Our daily habit of choosing to walk, cycle or to take public transport instead of motorised personal transport means, could have a greater impact than we can imagine on the way cities, streets and public transport systems will be planned in the future.
- Take care of our surroundings.
And by surroundings, I don’t mean the outdoor space, but our personal space and objects. The easiest way of living a sustainable life is to take proper care of what we already own. Obviously, high-efficiency domestic appliances and new insulation techniques have drastically lower carbon footprints compared to old models and technologies, but only when these innovations are strictly needed. The art of mending and of understanding the value of things and making them last is the fundamental idea to move forward.
- Buy less.
This one is easy: STOP BUYING. I mean useless things, bad quality things that last one use and that’s it. I know you get me though: why buy something ugly that you’ll need to dispose of when you have a beautiful one that just needs a good wash in the attic that can be used for the same purpose?
Let us know what steps you’ve been taking to live a more sustainable life! Does any of them fit in with our advice?