living sustainably

9. What can each one of us do?

© Kevin_Hsieh | Shutterstock, Inc. [US] 2018 

The question of what each one of us can do to make the world a more sustainable place is not easy to answer.

Maybe we individuals can make the greatest difference,

  • if we take other people with us on the path to sustainable development,
  • if we act together and network locally and globally,
  • if we push for fundamental changes in politics, so that it listens again to the voice of the people and not only to the voice of the big companies and banks,
  • if we reduce our collective consumption by just ten percent, because that would already have a major impact on many of the most polluting activities of our economy.
    Translated from Graeme Maxton. 2018. Change! Warum wir eine radikale Wende brauchen. 

It is important that now many people tackle individual behavioural changes. 

But these will only become effective together with structural changes in our society, which policymakers must now initiate.

We urgently need new framework conditions from politics

  • so that the economy can abandon the pure growth strategy and prioritise a sustainability strategy and
  • so that living sustainably becomes practical, easy and convenient in everyday life for all of us.

We do not have to change our lives completely, but we must adapt our lifestyle to the new circumstances and reconsider behaviours long held dear.

We often do not get involved in environmental and climate protection because we underestimate the following fact: 

My very personal contribution to environmental and climate protection, no matter how small, can achieve a significant effect together with the contribution of all other active people. 

For example, if every Swiss citizen (= 8 million people) did not eat meat on one day a week additionally, at least 300,000 pigs, 8,000,000 chickens and 25,000 cattle a year would be less likely to be fattened and slaughtered. 

Each of us can immediately take four measures, making an effective contribution to the protection of the environment and climate.

© laymanzoom | Shutterstock, Inc. [US] 2018  
1. Consume less.
Only consume what and as much as I really need.

© ra2studio | Shutterstock, Inc. [US] 2018 
2. Less time sitting in the car and on the plane.

© Estrada Anton | Shutterstock, Inc. [US] 2018 
3. Eat less meat and diary products.

© StockLite | Shutterstock, Inc. [US] 2018 
4. Heat less and use less space.

Consume less, drive less, fly less, eat less meat and less heating - we can start with that right away today.

© Aquir | Shutterstock, Inc. [US] 2019 

Climate change in Switzerland results in a warming of over 3 degrees, according to current knowledge.

At the time when the average temperature in Zurich was about 4 degrees lower, here was a layer of ice of 300 metres.

The transition to a sustainable society in Switzerland could mean for example:

  1. Reduce CO2 emissions from an average of 6 tons at home [+ 8 tons abroad] today to 1 - 2 tons per capita and year by the year 2050.
    Here calculate my CO2 emissions with the
    CO2 Calculator.

  2. Reduce resource consumption from an average of 30 tons to around 8 tons per capita and year in the longer term.
    Here calculate my ecological backpack with the Resources-Calculator.

  3. Reduce energy consumption from an average of 5,000 watt continous output per capita to around 2,000 watt in the longer term. 
    [it corresponds to an energy consumption of 17'500 kWh per person per year].

© M.Stasy | Shutterstock, Inc. [US] 2018