Sustainable Development in Cities
The world is changing, and so are our ways of living. You may have heard about the climate strike protests from Grete Thunberg or the increasing number of vegan alternatives coming to the market. Those things all have one goal in common: to save the environment.
With the increased excretion of toxins into the atmosphere, we are at risk of losing this battle. Luckily there are a few actions you can take to decrease your family’s impact. If everyone contributes, we can make visible changes. You can find also a lot of good books on sustainable development on Amazon. Here are seven sustainable development goals for you and your family.
1. Decrease your plastic usage
Almost every store sells products packaged in plastic, uses plastic bags or sends their packages filled with excess plastic. Plastic has been known to be a major source of the pollution in our oceans and in nature. It’s non degradable, but does often give off BPA and phthalates which have been proven to cause health issues. Decreasing your plastic usage can easily be achieved by bringing your own bags to a grocery store and put the produce in there, buying bulk items and filling them in paper bags or your own glass jars (which can even be reused too!) and by choosing not to buy pre-packaged foods where you can.
Goal: separate each plastic item you use/buy from your trash and see how many liters you use in a month. Try to decrease your plastic intake and measure again in the next month. Try to keep it under the 5L!
2. Reuse what you can
Whenever you buy a bottle of alcohol and jars of condiments, you can easily reuse them to decrease the amount of waste produced. While glass can be recycled, it costs less energy to just use what you already have rather than buying new. Glass jars can be used to store leftover foods, homemade foods, drinks and can also be decorated and used as a penholder or something similar.
The same goes for old or broken clothes. After washing them, you can easily turn them into grocery bags, kitchen towels or, if you menstruate, reusable sanitary pads.
Goal: collect at least 5 items you can reuse and actually use them in your daily life, all within a month.
This is something that can be done with your neighborhood instead of just with your family. Many things can be recycled, think of newspapers, boxes, glass, aluminum cans and some types of plastic. When throwing out the trash, try to separate it into all kinds of recyclable materials. If you are close to your neighbors, you can ask them to do the same and collect all categories in one specific location. Then, you can have the city pick up each category and bring it to its designated area to be recycled.
Goal: recycle at least one new category each week. Try to keep it up for as long as you can.
This is also something which you can do with your neighbors. Food scraps will usually be picked up by your local cities trash department but are usually burned rather than composted. This excretes CO2, methane and nitrogen into our atmosphere. Composting turns your food scraps into a brownish looking substance which is an incredible fertilizer for plants and trees. It provides the ground with the right nutrients and prevents any substance excretion. Collect your scraps in a separate bin or, even better, invest in a big composting bin for your whole neighborhood. Do make sure not to throw in meat scraps as they attract vermin.
Goal: compost at least 1/3 of all your food scraps.
5. Urban Gardening
To follow up on the composting goal, you can use your freshly made compost when you start an urban garden. This is a garden, usually on a patch of ground owned by an apartment complex or on a rooftop, that provides the residents with fresh herbs, vegetables and fruits. Not only is it a great way to teach your children about growing your own vegetables, it also provides you with local food in the long term and prevents the purchase of expensive, imported produce.
Goal: grow at least three types of herbs in the coming year. They can be grown indoors too!
6. Change your preferred type of transport
Cars are everywhere. They are convenient, bring you to your destination quickly and they offer a sense of privacy as they only transport you. However, cars also bring a lot of pollution with them. There is so much pollution in the air that yearly, about 7 million people die from just breathing smog filled air. Try to take the bike or go by foot wherever you can. If you need to travel across a big city, opt for the bus or train rather than your car. To make an even bigger change, you can write the city council a letter asking for an action to promote public transport/car-sharing/biking. Anything that reduces the amount of vehicles on the road is a big win!
Goal: travel at least 2 days per week by bike/public transport only.
7. Don’t buy fast fashion
Stores like H&M and Urban Outfitters are convenient, but not sustainable. Most clothes are made by factory workers, made from unethically planted cotton or even made from pure plastics (polyester, vinyl). Sustainable fashion is expensive, but ethically sourced and not mass-produced, creating a smaller impact on the environment than popular brands. Second-hand is cheap and even better than ethical fashion, you can buy from local second-hand shops or exchange clothes with people you know.
Goal: host a clothes-swap with your friends and family to promote sustainable fashion.
We all want to live in a better world and our children or grandchildren should be able to too. By working together with your local communities, family or maybe even the city council, you will be able to make a change. Even the smallest changes have impact, as long as we keep going. The economic development of sustainable products is growing, which means we’re going the right way.
You can find also a lot of good books on sustainable development on Amazon.
For more information on the consequences of plastics, CO2 excretion and how you can make a change, visit one of these links below:
- The dangers of plastics: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/15/single-use-plastics-a-serious-climate-change-hazard-study-warns
- What BPA does to you: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/bpa/faq-20058331
- What Phthalates do to your body: https://www.noharm.org/issues/us-canada/phthalates-and-dehp
- Ways to reduce your carbon footprint: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/7-instant-ways-to-reduce-your-carbon-footprint_b_59321992e4b00573ab57a383
- A piece on environmental change: https://www.nap.edu/read/4940/chapter/9#161
- Air pollution in cities: https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/05/02/world-health-organization-air-pollution-affects-90-population/572825002/