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Sustainability......way to Happiness!

Following my last blog, I carried out some research and discovered that I am "in love". Hmmm.....I knew this would get your attention :)

Yes, I have fallen head over heels with Sustainability and intend taking steps....okay, some may consider it drastic leaps, to make sustainability part of my everyday life.

Below are four ways I intend living a more sustainable life and invite you to consider making some yours, if you have not started.....take the challenge and have some fun! Before I proceed, perhaps it's important I introduce my new found love....Sustainability.

There are tons of definitions for sustainability referring to it as the ability to sustain or allow to last for a long time or improving the quality of life, etc. However, Duurzame meisjes definition recently caught my attention and resonated so well with me. Point 4 of this article defines "Sustainable shopping as the effort to find that outfit that makes you happy". I had never really connected sustainability with happiness till I read this.

So, I define Sustainability as the effort to discover "consciously" all that makes me happy. For when I am happy, I can help make my world a truly better place. I realize that like all relationships, Sustainability requires effort and time BUT the "net" result shall be fulfilled happiness. This concept is who, what and why I am madly in love! How to make Sustainability a reality....

1. Gain more knowledge: Read, read read and read as much as possible and preferably make it the trees! I try to read at least one article everyday on this subject. You know what they say, you spend time with those you love. This is how I spend time with Sustainability! I have even started a course on the subject...okay perhaps this is taking it too far! But you get the point😉

My first major article was Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato si where he reminds humanity of our joint responsibility to care for our common home. This extends not just to the walls around your personal house and work space (if they are separate). It is more than your village, city or country.....the world is a global village, what you do in your backyard affects millions across the globe in another continent and I find that reading enables me to understand just how interconnected we are

My latest read is Sustainability, without the hot air by David MacKay and the facts & numbers presented therein are quite mind blowing to say the least.

2. The way you move matters! No I don't mean your dancing vibes...though that is important.

I am referring to TRANSPORT, which my seven year old defines as the means of moving from one place to another. I further asked her to name some examples, she went "car, trains, planes...think think think....motor bike...hmmm bicycle, hot air balloon...oh mum why do I have to do this!" Thank goodness she mentioned bicycle, I think this is because we live in the Netherlands but walking was not an obvious mode of transport for her! Why not? Okay, we can save this for another day, the point I am trying to make is below.

On average in developed countries, the largest amount of energy consumed by an individual is used for transport.

Figure 1: EU 2013 Energy consumption

Source: Eurostat

The main sources of energy are Nuclear, Renewables (wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydropower) and the Fossil fuels (Coal, Crude oil and Natural gas). Fossil fuels account for more than 85% of energy consumed globally in 2014.

When Fossil fuels are burnt, which is what happens inside conventional machines used for transporting us from one place to another, they release energy and some gases, including Green house gases (GHG) such as Carbon dioxide (CO2), which is considered to be the main gas responsible for climate change and thus global warming.

Figure 2: EU28 greenhouse gas emissions by sector and mode of transport, 2012

I don't know about you but as I can't afford an electric car....yet, which would help cancel out the effect of fossil fuels and its corresponding impact on the environment, among other problems, I have decided to REDUCE the use of my conventional car and consider other alternatives which definitely includes walking. Just to add, my daughter has since learnt that walking to and from school is a possible mode of transport! It "may" take more time and effort but it is worth the exercise, saves car parking time and frustration (have you tried school runs?), allows us to explore our neighborhood especially after school on a nice sunny day, race each other to see who gets home first ......need I say more.

3. Conscientious Shopping.....and as much as possible with my Shopper bag!

The bit of grabbing my shopper bag can be seen here, however shopping deserves a point on this blog as this affects every kind of shopping you can imagine....from groceries to clothing, electronics, vacation plans, having lunch and yes, my hair products, which will deserve another blog post in future Besides, shopping takes loads of time, money and effort, which I wish to transform into great stuff/experiences that makes me happy - this is what I think they call the shopping experience.

Following from point # 2, another big energy consumer and thus responsible for burning fossil fuels are the things we buy and own. Most of what we consume daily is processed and transported using fossil fuels. We may not fully comprehend it but modern life relies heavily on petrochemicals. Petrochemicals are essentially products from crude oil and I am truly in awe of the vast items that can be produced from this black stuff buried under the earth.

I can't actually see a near future "completely" void of petrochemicals - can you? However, I think I can reduce the impact I know petrochemicals has on the planet by conscientious shopping. When shopping, I look and smell for the following: Organic, natural, local, renewable, carbon free, biological, recycle, biodegradable, happy, creative and of course sustainable! For convenience, which I am big on and especially when I can't go shopping either walking or with my bike, I go for Responsible Online Shopping and avoid return of purchases as this reduces the environmental impact significantly.

A shopping habit I am trying to build is Swoping! It is the new way to shop - get something new in my wardrobe for next to nothing by giving away something I once loved and is now merely occupying space. Besides no need to move physically from one shop to another, just go online - checkout Swopster!

Me.... in my favorite color and a matching UnikBag

Remember, buy stuff that makes you happy and if you can't find it, Create it. Yes, Create your Style, thankfully, it's a free world .....You can create something Unique or shop for Customized items, only for you! This way you can be sure they last waste, great value for money, good use of space.

Finally I need to explain? If you really can't get it customized by someone else, roll up your sleeves and get to work and make yourself proud. Thanks to YouTube, with some effort and creativity you can make anything you want for yourself and with sustainable products.

4. Disconnect .....spend time with nature Perhaps this point is my strongest motivation to stay committed on this journey of discoveries and lifestyle changes. Spending time with nature reminds me of my vulnerability and minuteness. Silence is such bliss, I can finally hear myself think, I can hear my conscience and get on cracking with my conscientious shopping!! Perhaps my necessity for this time to disconnect has been heightened due to a recent near death experience.

Whatever it is, the need for Sustainable alternatives to our everyday, busy, pollutant, depleting, chaotic and modern existence, shouts clear and loud when I disconnect and gaze at nature. I am mindful of how my daily activities affect the planet - mother nature. I am also reminded not to take certain things for granted, like my health, my family, clean air, good food, clothing and shelter, not to mention peace! These are what I ponder on when I spend time in nature and Sustainability.

However, I can't get enough time to spend in nature, you know with the perfect weather..... bright, sunny and warm! If you live in the Netherlands, you may understand why I mention the weather, it's a hot topic here. And for some reason, the weather is more unfavorable for spending time outdoors for longer periods of the year....could it be climate change?? Anyway, I subscribe to bringing nature and happiness indoors and my surroundings. This is why I shall ask 'Colors n Smile' to make me a customized painting of this blog cover picture (just scroll to the top).......I have just the place to hang it and spend time with dear Sustainability!!

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