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© 2020 by Anna Rothärmel

living sustainably, a fulltime job.

The thing with a lifestyle u-turn

"As of tomorrow I will be living sustainably." How many times have I said that to myself. The day after my laudable resolution: the alarm clock wakes me up. First shower, then coffee and then off to the office. On the way quickly grabbing breakfast and lunch in the supermarket and bam: suddenly I am in the middle of plastic paradise. Plastic-free products? Nowhere to be seen. "Well that's a good start" I am saying to myself and take the usual. Really for the very last time. Things are crazy at work and without any energy left I am going back to the country of plastic, grab something for dinner and when lying in my bed I think "brilliant, that all worked very well." I feel horrible. But I don't need to. Quite the opposite.

Because even if that sounds a bit cheesy now: I have made the first step. I have decided to change my lifestyle for the environment and our world. However, changing everything within the blink of an eye is possible, but very heard. I am sure many have mastered this great feat and I can only say chapeau! Because we all have a fulltime job, household, laundry, maybe a partner and kids, a social life and from time to time you need exactly this for yourself to unwind and regain energy. No bed of roses all of this!

That is why I am taking my time now and change one thing after the other. Because behind living plastic-free, DIY shampoo and toothpaste and a more environment-friendly nutrition lies a lot of planning. I start small and don't put myself under pressure. Because that is exactly why I always threw the towel after just a few days and eventually hardly changed anything. So, how can I reach my goal?

I need a list!

I love to do lists (who doesn't?)! Especially for my job they are so handy and then ticking the task off – an amazing feeling, right? Before writing my list I start thinking, what "living sustainably" actually means? Because even after having read a lot, I keep discovering things in my daily life that could not be given the sustainability seal. So I sat down and brainstormed. Three things I could tick from the off: 

  • Going more by bike. Ever since I have moved to Amsterdam I don't have a car anymore and go everywhere by bike. I mean, I am in Amsterdam.

  • Eating less meat. For many years I had hardly bought meat and in January I went the whole way and became a vegatarian.

  • Saying no to plastic bags. I was surprised at how much I can fit in my little backpack.

Still the list got very long and it also had points like "making my own caring products" and "buy not packed and regional". When I was done I looked at my list and thought "cool, so what should I start with now?" I was completey overwhelmed, put myself under pressure again and ended up with my "as-of-tomorrow-i-will-be-living-sustainably"-resolution. Not a nice Déjà-vu. 

Adieu To-Do, Bonjour Prio!

So my beloved to do list ended up in the bin – waste paper of course. I sharpened my pencil again and wrote a priority list, without any deadlines. Because first I needed to research a bit: where can I actually buy unwrapped products? And where regional ones? What do I have to put in DIY toothpaste? Hint: no baking soda, that is bad for the enamel, little mistake from me as a diy greenhorness. As soon as priority #1 is going well, I take care of priority #2, then priority #3 and so on.

Then I thought what would be the easiest thing to implement for the beginning. On top of the list was buying veggies and fruit not in the supermarket, but on the market which is less than a five minute bike ride from my home. Every Saturday you can find a plethora of yay-not-in-plastic-wrapped food. My list's runner up is DIY caring products – 920 ml coconut oil are ready in my bathroom and my shampoo and conditioner are almost empty. I cannot wait to get creative in the caring kitchen. After thorough research of course, the baking-soda-toothpaste-dilemma really does not need a sequel.

Many little steps

I am aware of the fact that all of this is still far away from my goal of living plastic-free and more environment-friendly. I still buy things in the supermarket that are complete unnecessarily wrapped in plastic. But I think, I am on a good way, because every little step takes me closer to my climate summit (ha, get it?). And if it takes half a year or a year, then it is completely fine. Because how does the saying go: Rome wasn't build in a day!