green lifestyle

Have a palm oil free Christmas

The festive season is soon upon us, and so is a lot of traditional festive food. In my everlasting investigation on how to live more sustainable, I’ve come to notice how much of the store bought food that still contains palm oil in Norway.

Palm oil production has a severe negative impact on the rainforest, as vast areas with a high bio diversity is mowed down to make room for palm oil plantations. This also impacts the animals who used to live there, and the indigenous that made their livelihood in the rainforest. If you would like to read more about the problem of palm oil (in English) you can follow this link to the site “Say no to palm oil"

Palm oil plantation harvesting

Palm oil plantation harvesting

As an eco conscious citizen, you don’t want to contribute to the deforestation of the rainforest while you are enjoying your store bought ginger bread, therefore, I will give you a guide on how to steer clear of the palm oil this Christmas:

Deforestation caused by palm oil plantations

Deforestation caused by palm oil plantations

RSPO certified Palm Oil

You have probably read the phrase “RSPO certified Palm Oil” on products containing palm oil. This is the “Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which is a large, international group of palm oil producers, palm oil buyers, and environmental and social groups. According to WWF this initiative have taken steps in making the palm oil industry better.

However, Greenpeaces “Certifying Destruction” report shows that the RSPO is in fact not producing sustainable palm oil. The report uncovered how RSPO certified palm oil plantations was linked to deforestation. One of the reasons why RSPO certification is not working as it should, is because there are several loop holes to work around the conservation of the rainforest that it was set out to protect. If you want to understand more about RSPO, I recommend reading the report.

This is why RSPO certified oil is not a guarantee that the palm oil has not contributed to deforestation. Therefore it is better to avoid palm oil containing products altogether.

Have a joyful and palm oil free Christmas celebration. More tips on how to have a sustainable and eco friendly celebration will come.

My samoyed Kit looking forward to a new sustainable Christmas

My samoyed Kit looking forward to a new sustainable Christmas

Back to school, back to saving the environment

August is almost finished, and many of us is getting back into the routine of school, university and jobs. Here is a list of four tips for making your everyday life greener! For long term readers, you will remember the concept of how we can use habit building to incorporate more environmentally friendly habits in our daily routine. Basically what this means is; make it easier for yourself to follow up on the green choice you have already committed to doing. 

How to remember your reusable bag when grocery shopping: If one of your, like mine, green everyday choices is to use a reusable bag when you grocery shop - then always carry with you in your backpack or choice of carry on item a reusable bag. This way, you don't have to remember the action of finding it every singel time, and the amount of plastic you use will be drastically reduced.

Pick five peaces of plastic every day: Maybe you have seen the #5forhvalen on instagram? If you haven't the thought behind it is as simple as it is doable; if everyone pick up five items of plastic that they find in nature every day, it will have a massively positive impact on your everyday environment, and you stop it from reaching the ocean! Which makes you a climate hero! :D 

Plastic that me and my friends picked along the coast of Lofoten this summer to bring back to the mainland for recycling. 

Plastic that me and my friends picked along the coast of Lofoten this summer to bring back to the mainland for recycling. 

Cutting down on your disposable plastic consumption: After watching NRKs brilliant "Plant plast" this spring (if you haven't already, it is highly recommended) you probably don't want to contribute to plastic problem that we are currently facing. If your daily routine includes picking up a coffee to go, then remember to put your reusable cup in your backpack, making the decision so much easier for yourself when you are already in line (and remember "I do have one of those! Only problem is, it's in my cupboard at home...) Most coffee shops also give you a discount if you remember to bring your own cup, so there's economical incentives for remembering as well. I bought myself a cup (for hot drinks) right before the start of the hottest summer recorded, but as temperatures finally are cooling down in Norway, I will soon get a use of it. 

Start of a new season - new green habits! Most likely, if you do read this blog, you are already either quite concerned about the climate and environment, but do you get an every day outlet for your passion? I find that it's very important for me personally to contribute in the ongoing battle against climate change on many different levels, and one way that I've benefitted from in so many ways is by being part of an organisation that works on climate related matters. Being part of an organisation, you both support the good work they are doing, and if you support, either with your time spent volunteering or with financial aid, you are contributing in helping the environment. It is also one of the most meaningful ways you can contribute, by saving the planet for the future generations to come. August/September is a great time of year to start out with new activities, so you know you've always wanted or you have always intended to do it. Let this be the autumn where you take your green passion to the next level and start advocating for it louder. After the summer we have had, it's visible for all to see that we don't have any time to waste. I will include a list of Norwegian environmental organisations (but for my international readers, many of them, like WWF and Greenpeace will have international chapters as well) 

List of environmental organisations you should look into: 

- Greenpeace

- Spire

- Natur og Ungdom

- Fremtiden i våre hender

- Naturvernforbundet

- WWF

- Bellona

- Utviklingsfondet

There are lots more, but do some research, find out which one best resonate with you, and what are the options of getting involved in your local chapter where you live/work or go to university. Becoming an active member in one of these groups could be the best decision you make this autumn. Have a happy green back to work/school! 

 

Good green habits in the summer

We've recently experienced summer like temperatures where I'm studying. This blog post is therefore a quick reminder to us all that we don't forget our good green habits over the summer months. 

1. Reusable bag. Remember to bring your reusable bag when shopping. It saves the environment unnecessary plastic, and by refusing, you are stopping the demand for plastic bags. Remember we talked about 5 R's? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, RefuseThe trick is to leave the fabric bag in your bag/backpack so you don't need to make a conscious decision to bring it along each time, saving yourself the energy to remember.

2. Give away clothes you don't need. This blog has focused a lot on the clothing industry and for new readers; in 2017 I did a year of shop stop, here you can read my evaluation after one year had passed. By giving away clothes you dont need, you are both decluttering your own space, but more importantly, you are giving the clothes you don't need any longer to someone who will have real value of them. 

Translation of the text in the image "The dress that you give will give someone else an opportunity for a job", and "The trousers you are giving is saving the environment for 8 kg of CO2" and "The sweater you are giving will give warmth to someone who is freezing". 

Translation of the text in the image "The dress that you give will give someone else an opportunity for a job", and "The trousers you are giving is saving the environment for 8 kg of CO2" and "The sweater you are giving will give warmth to someone who is freezing". 

3. Reusable water bottle/cup for hot drinks. I bought myself a KeepCup in 2014, which I recently learned also makes glass cups. However, my plastic one started smelling and tasting like plastic, so I recently invested in a glass one from the brand JocoCups. Building on research from among others, the climate psychologist Per Espen Stoknes, who I reviewed the book of: 'What we think about when we try not to think about global warming' ; one important aspect when it comes to changing habits/making greener choices, is to base our desired new habit on something we already like or are predisposition to liking. In less academic terms: Choose a cup you find pretty/good looking, and you are more likely to use it! 

My new glass Joco cup. 

My new glass Joco cup. 

4. Picking up plastic litter in nature. We know so much about the plastic problem by now, that we should all act on it whenever we see plastic laying in nature. Also, speak up against unnecessary usage of plastic, like in Norway helium balloons where recently banned on the 17th of May because enough people cared! Helium balloons are known for ending up in the ocean as marine litter.

17th of May plastic litter that can soon become marine litter. 

17th of May plastic litter that can soon become marine litter. 

5. Leave the nature as you found it. In Norwegian there is a term called "sporløs ferdsel" which essentially means to not leave a trace where you've traveled in nature. In practical terms this means for example to not leave your disposable grill on the ground (or worse - dumped in the ocean) after you've used it. The simplest way is asking yourself; should nature look like this? If no, pick it up. 

Thank you for caring about our joint environment <3 

Using habit building to incorporate a more environmentally friendly lifestyle

Catchy title, but that is what todays blog post will discuss. How can you make it easier for yourself to live by the environmentally conscious principles you know would benefit yourself and the environment? For me, I think these two guiding principles helps you a long way: 

1. Make it easy - meaning; instead of wanting to cut back on the plastic bags you get from the store, but always forget, because you forgot that morning that you would grocery shop after school/work, then make it easy for yourself and always carry with you a fabric bag. It weights nothing and it saves you a lot of guilt. 

2. Make the decision beforehand. With this principle, I mean; instead of always having to consider every new temptation as they come along, of course you will be exhausted, and living environmentally friendly will seem like a shore. There is such a thing called 'decision fatigue' which is basically when you use up all your mental capacity on tedious little tasks, and when faced with the decisions you actually have to make, you dont have enough energy to make them. Therefor, I am an advocate for already making the decision, and incorporating them into the way you intend to live by. Say your green new years resolution was to eat less meat, as we talked about two weeks ago, but now, some time has passed, and maybe the initial motivation that comes by starting a new habit has faded ever so slightly. That's when this principle applies. Say your goal was to cut meat entirely, but now you're tempted to break it, because it seems easier to just go with what's familiar. That is when you now remind yourself; no, I've made a promise to myself, because the better, greener version of myself knows this is something that is important to me to follow through, and this is something I know will benefit me and the environement in the long term, even though it would seem like it does not matter what decision I make right now. I used this principle a lot in the beginning of my year of ShopStop

If you thought this blog post was helpful, this is something I am quite interessted, and have more resources on. Hope you will have a green Sunday! 

Have yourself an environmentally friendly Christmas

December is here, and very soon, so is Christmas. So here, in this blog post, I will give you a few reccomendations on how to make your entire Christmas celebration more green. 

tog-fra-bergen.jpg

1. Chose public transportation when you are traveling to get home. For a lot of us, Christmas means traveling back to where your family live. This can be a pleasant start to your holiday. Remember, you can still listen to "Driving home for Christmas" - from a train ;)  

2. When shopping for Christmas presents to your loved ones, consider these guiding questions:

- Is this something the recipient explicitly has said they want or need? If not, dont buy it. 

- Is it a possibility to buy the item used? Remember when we learnt about why circular economy is good for the environment? 

3. If your friend or family member says that they don't actually wish for any more material goods, a great gift that you could be giving is an experience! There are so many alternatives here, only your imagination sets the limits. It could be anything from a concert, trip to the cinema or possibly a journey you've both wanted to take. A study from 2010 in Norway showed that the majority of the people asked, actually wanted experiences over things

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4. A lot of the traditional Christmas foods tends to be meat based. This article explains how eating meat is actually more damaging than a long distance flight.  'A kilogramme of beef protein reared on a British hill farm can generate the equivalent of 643kg of carbon dioxide. A kilogramme of lamb protein produced in the same place can generate 749kg. One kilo of protein from either source, in other words, causes more greenhouse gas emissions than a passenger flying from London to New York' .Those numbers are shocking, but true. Therefore, making more of your Christmas meals green is a good place to start. 

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There are numerous other things you could be doing to save the environment over Christmas, but these ones; letting your car stay at home, don't buy things you or others don't need, and choosing to eat green over meat, are the key ones to remember. 

With wishes that you will have a green (and white) Christmas! 

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Second quarter of 2017 on shopstop

June is nearing its end, and so is the first half of this years non-shopping policy. To be honest, it only gets easier the more time that passes. 

At first, I figured the main challenges could be changes of the seasons, but now that I have 'mastered' ice cold winter, mild spring, and warm summer temperatures, I know it will be easy to last the rest of the year without breaking it. 

The key to any habit building activities, at least to what I have found, is reminding yourself every so often, why you are doing this in the first place. Until the new habit becomes an integrated part of your daily routine, then it can be good to remind yourself why you first set out on this journey. To me, I am luckily beyond that point, which makes it easier to focus on the idea behind this. 

One cool thing that has happened since the last update, is that I have had several really good conversations with friends about how they too has started questioning themselves more about their consumer habits. Which I think is great! A higher awareness of how much we consume is the first step towards decreasing the amount that goes in to what the advertisement industry wants us to think is a 'normal' or 'standard' amount of clothes, shoes etc to consume in a year. 

Another good thing that has come out of this project so far, which was one of my intentions, was to free up spare time, in order to use it how I know I actually would, in stead of ending up in a store. I can definitely say that I have been able to go on hikes both in the weekdays and also in the weekend a lot more frequently (while living in cities) after starting this project. 

If you have a similar idea that you want to test out for a years time, that you think will bring you closer to the kind of life you want to lead; I would say go for it! I am happy about doing shopstop 2017. Maybe you would like to do shopstop for the second half of this year, starting on 1st of July? :) 

 

3 tips on how to be eco friendly this summer

Hi everyone, June is here, and so is the start of summer holiday for a lot of you. With summer comes a lot of well deserved spare time, and with that, here are some handy tips on how to not let the good habits slip over the holiday: 

1. Slow travels: If possible, chose a train/ferry/bikes/kayak in stead of a flying. Slow travel is all the rage, and for a good reason. By making the travel part of your journey, you can find a necessary slowing of the pace, that might be the reason why you wanted to go on holiday in the first place. For more inspiration, you can follow this link to a couple who are committed to slow travels. 

2. Be a local hero: If you do decide to stay at home, be a local hero in your community! What I mean by this is - if you see that someone has thrown a disposable grill out in the water right next to a beach or any place that children or animals might get stuck in it - be a local hero and pick it up! I have seen this happen numerous times; its polluting, and the grill has no reason to be there. 

3. Pick up the plastic: Following up on being a local hero, I am assuming that a lot of people associate summer with spending time near the ocean, or at least waters, at least, that's summer to me. Whenever you see a plastic bag, or a bottle that have lost its way out of some owners hands, please be the climate hero they failed to be, and carry it with you until you can throw it away in a designated place. Last summer, I did a kayak hike, which turned into a picking up plastic bags from the sea hike. 

Also, obviously, great to pick up the plastic before it enters into the ocean as well, because as we know, almost all the plastic that ends up in nature find its way to the ocean. 

There might be more tips over the summer, but if we all try to follow up on these, you are really making a difference. Have an eco friendly start to your summer. 

Is the clothing industry getting any better?

I was recently at a meeting that discussed how the clothing industry is progressing, now 4 years after more than 1110 people died in the collapsing clothing factory Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. 

Status quo today 

The project lead for the Sweatshop (which I encourage you to see, if you haven't) said that the salaries they are making, is still not enough to cover daily costs. On the topic of security, we learned that there is still a lot of uncertainty in the job market. After the Rana Plaza accident, two work agreement was drawn up, the 'Accord on Fire and Building Safety' in Bangladesh and 'The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety'. If the new standards are not met, western companies must end their relationship with the factories. They have until the end of 2018 to meet the targets. However, as per today, the majority of the factories are still far from reaching these targets. There is still a lack in rights at the workplace, wages are low, and the workers are treated badly and without respect, and is sometimes beaten with plastic bottles. 

After the Rana Plaza, the industry wanted an overview of who had produced their clothes there. It turned out that none of the companies that used Rana Plaza had operated with open lists. In order to tell a customer where their garments are made, a company should always operate with an open list. That is why asking for open lists in the clothing industry is one of the ways you can help alter the system. This is because if an accident where to occur, the responsible would be easier to target, to prevent it happening again. 

Still, progress is being made, but a lot remains to be done. The term 'when best is not good enough' was used about the 'best' factories. In the meantime, we as consumers can look at these lists to see what companies operate with open lists. The other thing we can do is to keep paying attention to the working conditions, and keep asking questions. 

ShopStop 2017

It's been a while, its a new year, and a new greener you, if you'd like to. 

I've decided to introduce a new element to this blog, which is more about green living and how you can do lifestyle choices that is helping us taking care of our common earth. 

For me, one of my contributions this year is that I will not buy any new clothing in 2017. This is because of the awareness I have gained over the past few years about how the textile industry works and the enormous effects this has on our climate. For a more in debt about this, see my last blog post: http://theclimateschool.com/news/2016/11/30/black-friday-and-over-consume-of-clothes

I do believe this is going to become a challenge, even thought I do know I have what I need in order to physically manage it. The biggest challenge, the way I see it now, is to overcome the constant offers that the advertising world is constantly imprinting in you that you need. I read somewhere that earlier we used to talk about the four different seasons. Now, clothing advertises the year like every new week is a new season, which is insane. However, these things are effective, and just the other day when I was walking down the street, I saw a long warm looking black skirt, and immediately thought ‘that was nice’, then I remembered the vow I had given myself and thought about alternatives to buying this new skirt, and straight ahead I recalled a long black skirt I had from four years back that could do the job! So solution number one: See what I already have that can be used. 

The second challenge that I think can become a fall mine is that sometimes one buys stuff out of boredom. Although, now that I am aware of this, I will rather used the time and money spent on something more lasting; like spending time in nature! The nature is of course free, but sometimes it can cost a bit to travel to the more remote areas. This is where the saving aspect of not buying any new clothes come in. I went over my online receipts for 2016 and found out how much I used on clothes that year, and it came to the sum of 4480 NOK. From my perspective, who is someone who considers oneself as not that materialistic, I was quite shocked. It is tempting to come with three explanations as to why the number was this high: 

  1. In 2016 I gave away half of the clothes I owned in the first half of the year. If anyone else is getting inspired by a minimalist lifestyle, as I am currently, I will write another blog post on how minimalism can help you to become more green in your choices. However I would also state that if you do decide to get rid of a lot of clothing, do not throw it away in the bin, donate it to somewhere you know the items will be taken care of, as too much textiles in the garbage is another severe environmental problem. 
  2. There was a holiday in 2016 that I was on where I arrived to the final destination, whereas my suitcase did not. This was in January, and it was rather cold, so I had to buy a new outfit from top to bottom. 
  3. After having given away half my wardrobe in the first half of 2016, I came to realise that a few essential things, like trousers, where now currently missing from what I had left, so that needed to be bough in order to cope with the cold winter of Norway. 

After having reflected on the clothes that I did need to buy, I am still thinking that I must have bought things I did not necessarily need. This is one of the insights I am hoping to get this coming year, what you really need. When you limit your purchase of new resources, you become more creative with what is already available to you. At least that’s my theory. On the bright side, the amount of money I spent on clothes in 2016 could buy me a trip I am planning with a good friend travelling from Oslo to Lofoten, even in an environmentally friendly way. If you come to look at your spendings that way, I am sure you would end up with better memories from an experience like that, instead of yet another pair of black jeans. 

A third challenge I have thought of is this - but what about presents? Will I not be able to give gifts that are textiles this year? There will come a Christmas towards the end of this year as well. For the time being, I am thinking no to soft gifts this year. 

Something constructive I have thought of that can come out of this years experiment is that I want to learn how to knit after a pattern. I haven't tried it yet, and when I manage it, I will be able to produce things myself out of wool this year. 

These are the premisses for my shopstop 2017. So far these are the challenges I see as most likely. Other solutions during the year will of course be to for example borrow say, tour equipment should I need that. On the top of my head I rememberer that I don't own a sleeping bag, but I know someone who does. I am exited about this project, and when I have something to report along the way I will, and then when the year is finished give a full review of how it turned out.