Living sustainably – what does sustainability mean for day-to-day living?
Even small lifestyle changes can make a big difference
2020 was an extraordinary year. Due to the Corona pandemic, many People found themselves forced to use internet shops. This resulted, for example, in the record profit posted by Amazon last year.
If you order on the internet, you always get one thing in addition: Packaging waste. In 2019, the amount of household waste per inhabitant and year had already climbed to 457 kg, as determined by the Federal Statistical Office as part of its waste statistics.
This, along with other metrics, raises a crucial question: Is our behaviour really sustainable? And are we thereby fulfilling our self-responsibility to preserve our planet as best we can for future generations?
We shed light on what sustainability means – ultimately including for one's own health – and how everyone can contribute to society, the environment and one's own well-being in small ways, even through small changes in day-to-day living.
Living sustainably – what does this entail?
The most widely-accepted definition for sustainability comes from a UN Report from the year 1987: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without risking that future generations will not be able to meet their own needs.”
Christian Rüger, alternative practitioner and head of Naturheilzentrum Bottrop (NABO), summarises what this means in a short and concise statement on the subject:
“Living sustainably means living in such a way that we do not deprive future generations of their livelihoods. That is to say, leaving an intact planet that continues to have all the resources it needs to provide a good life for the People on Earth.”
The fact that sustainable consumption has not yet been achieved by a majority of People is indicated by an assessment of the German government on the ecological footprint: In 2012, each German consumed on average resources equivalent to 4.6 hectares of usable land. However, only 2 hectares are available to each of us if we are to live sustainably.
The possible consequence: In future, there will no longer be enough resources for everyone. Drastic cuts in the quality of life could be the result.
Living sustainably – tips for a new awareness in day-to-day life
According to Rüger, the first step towards sustainability takes place above all in the mind:
“In order for us as a society to become more sustainable as a whole, we must first need to raise awareness of sustainability. That is to say, the following message needs to be absorbed: Each and every one of us can and perhaps must do something to help preserve our planet.”
In his opinion, even small steps can make a big difference to sustainability in everyday life:
“It is possible to achieve a more sustainable life even with small steps. In other words, wherever resources can be conserved. This can mean leaving the car at home more often. Or buying products at the weekly market instead of in the shop, because this entails shorter journeys.
Waste avoidance is another important topic. For example, there are now some shops that offer sustainable products completely without packaging.”
Many of the tips for sustainability in day-to-day life overlap with measures against climate change, which Naturheilzentrum Bottrop has also reported on in detail.
Sustainable nutrition and sustainable products can also have an impact on health
Living sustainably can not only help to preserve the planet, but can also have a decidedly positive effect on health. If you get on your bike more often instead of using the car, you are not merely doing something good for your cardiovascular health.
A low-meat diet, for example, also conserves resources and can also prevent many diseases, as reported by the magazine Apotheken-Umschau (see also the NABO article on the topic: vegan healthy living).
Another aspect of sustainability in day-to-day life is directly related to health, but is often overlooked, as complementary physician Christian Rüger points out:
“Many things that we encounter in our day-to-day lives contain substances that can have a wide variety of effects in our bodies. This includes plastic from packaging or even quite innocent-looking everyday items such as the thermal paper from till receipts!”
Similar reports have already been made by the Consumer Advice Centre, which also advises reducing the purchase of packaged food in favour of sustainable products.
More on the topic of sustainability from NABO
At the end of the day, Rüger is certain that everyone can benefit from a greater awareness of sustainability in their day-to-day lives:
“Living sustainably is a challenge, but it is also an opportunity for everyone. Greater awareness of one’s own behaviour often enables new perspectives. And much of the sustainable behaviour in day-to-day life can have a positive impact not only on the ecological footprint, but also on health.”
The health experts and lifestyle vloggers from NABO have summarised even more interesting information and exciting facts in their new video on the Naturheilzentrum Bottrop YouTube channel Naturheilzentrum Bottrop YouTube channel.
The guest article by Tobias Battenberg on the concept of “Zero waste – Living Without Plastic” in the blog section of the NABO website is also recommended.