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SUSTANABILITY | 15.01.2021

10 New Year’s resolutions for a more sustainable 2021

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If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s that climate change no longer only threatens the survival of the polar bear. Masks, social distancing, mobility restrictions… Life as we know it is in danger, which is why more and more people are wondering what they can do to contribute to sustainability and avoid the next pandemic.

Despite the fact that the pandemic continues to take its toll in terms of lives lost televisions around the world follow the distribution of the first vaccines as if it were a football match. And we’re hoping against hope that we can say goodbye to the year just ended, a year that has wreaked havoc on families and economies around the world.

However, we run the risk of forgetting the lessons we’ve learned from this experience. A United Nations report recently warned that “Human, animal and environmental health should be considered as one in order to prevent the next pandemic.

UN Environment Program Executive Director Inger Andersen insists: “Science has made it clear that if we continue to exploit wildlife and destroy our ecosystems, in the coming years we will have to deal with a steady stream of diseases passing from animals to humans.”

As such, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that we must all contribute to sustainable development if we want to avoid the next pandemic. In addition, the beginning of the year is a good time to review habits and set new goals, and so, we would like to share a list of sustainability-related actions with you that you can put into practice in 2021.

 

Eat more vegetables and fewer animals

Modifying what you eat is one of the most powerful changes that can be made on an individual level. What you put in your basket every time you shop has an impact on the climate, so much so that a new food trend has emerged: the climatarians – people who reduce their consumption of products of animal origin not so much because of the suffering that is generated, but because of mere environmental commitment.

Adopting a more sustainable diet means:

– Eating less meat, especially beef
– Eating more fruit and vegetables, preferably in season
– Eating locally
– Less packaging, particularly single-use containers

Reduce water and energy consumption

At home you can save water with measures such as prioritizing the shower over the bathroom, putting a double button on the cistern and running the washing machine or dishwasher only when they are full.

Quite often, we are not conscious of our water usage, which explains the devilment and recent popularity of water footprints (similar to carbon footprints), which measure and track the volume of water used to produce everything we consume. If you want to work out your water footprint, you can use this calculator.

There are lots of things we can to reduce energy consumption (and our utility bills), such as using energy-saving light bulbs or unplugging electrical appliances when they are not in use. You can also use a dark background or wallpaper on your computer, use energy-efficient appliances and take shorter showers.

Prioritize locally-sourced products

Supporting local merchants is not only more sustainable, but also boosts the surrounding economy. Helping out small local businesses is especially important nowadays, as thousands of independent businesses are either closing down or facing extreme difficulty as a result of the pandemic.

Another benefit of shopping in your own neighborhood is that it reduces your carbon footprint (the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by your actions). The next time you pick up a banana in the produce section, take an look at where it comes from – you might be surprised at how far it’s travelled to reach your hands.

Getting around sustainably

Unfortunately, the pandemic has pushed us to private transport, but since one of the main sources of CO2 emissions is transport, it’s worth substituting journeys on polluting transport (such as private cars or airplanes) with other more sustainable forms of transport, such as walking, cycling or public transport. Regarding work meetings, there are more and more issues that can now be effectively dealt with through videoconference, thereby avoiding the need for people to travel. It’s clear that mobile working and remote working are here to stay.

Reduce consumption and waste generation

Recycling isn’t enough anymore – you have to go one step further and reduce consumption of superfluous products. Make a list before you go shopping and stick to it.

Separating waste correctly to recycle more is another of the fundamental lessons of responsible consumption. Almost everything can be recycled now if you put your mind to it – fabrics, furniture and all kinds of household and garden utensils. It’s important to go to recycling points to dispose of household appliances properly and recycle objects such as mobile phones, batteries, toxic waste, oils etc.

And you don’t have to be a handyman to reuse materials. Almost all of us replace single-use bags with reusable ones. You can most likely fix up or alter clothes and accessories that are worn down, use reusable containers at home, water your plants with cooking water… There’s no end of hacks out there to make life more sustainable.

Going one step further

If you’re thinking that you can’t solve the whole environmental crisis on your own, well, you’re right. You can’t. But what you can do is spread the word about measures or initiatives that promote sustainable development. Lend your voice to the growing chorus worldwide that is saying that together, with each one of us doing our bit, we can ensure a better future for all.

If you want to go one step further, you can always join in some volunteering activities that will no doubt help improve the lives of others around you, or take better care of your environment, just like countless MAPFRE employees do.