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Environmental sustainability
Blog | June 2023

The basic principles of sustainability in everyday life.

We all have a responsibility to live sustainably, to protect the environment and to sustain intergenerational equity. The aim is to conserve the earth's resources, minimise negative impacts on the environment and make responsible choices in our daily lives. The global political community has set clear goals to curb climate change. But every single person can also make a contribution to protect the planet. For this year's Sustainability Week, we have put together some practical tips for everyday life.

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Reducing energy consumption and emissions 

Carrying out some basic acts in our everyday lives can create better outcomes for the environment. Sustainable actions can include switching off electronic devices when you are not using them, replacing conventional light bulbs with energy-efficient LED lamps and using natural light sources whenever possible. Using energy-efficient appliances and setting all thermostats correctly also saves energy resulting in less carbon emissions. 

Using alternative means of transportation such as cycling, public transport or car sharing can contribute towards your carbon footprint reduction. If you own a car, leave it parked for as often as possible or consider switching an electric or hybrid vehicle. 

Reduce waste and recycle 

Waste separation and recycling are important steps to reduce waste to landfill. Separate your waste streams and put recyclable materials such as paper, glass and metal back into the system to be reborn as materials that can be reused. We should always try to avoid waste by preferencing reusable products and considering composting. 

Living plastic-free 

Plastic is a synthetic material that never degrades and remains in the environment forever. More than 40% of the world's ocean surface is covered by floating islands of rubbish. The damage to nature and biodiversity is staggering. Birds, seals, turtles and fish eat the plastic waste and face miserable deaths. Plastic is also made with petroleum or natural gas which are fossil fuels that have an impact on the environment. 

To reduce the global consumption of plastic, we can do this in small and subtle ways. Bringing your own shopping bag, avoid products that have too much packaging to choosing products that contain or use recycled materials. Even that takeaway coffee tastes as good when you use your own insulated cup. And finally, for almost every plastic product there are alternatives made with materials such as glass, bamboo, or stainless steel that can be reused. 

Saving water 

The growing global population needs an increasing amount of water. Against the backdrop of drought and unpredictable climate patterns, water is becoming a valuable resource. 

Taking short showers instead of long baths, turning off the tap while soaping our hands or using rainwater for the garden are just some of the ways we can save water. If you want to go a step further, repair lagging toilet flushes immediately and install water-saving household appliances. In modern landscape architecture, true professionals rely on "xeriscaping", a resource conservative form of landscaping. 

This practice involves selecting large plants that are drought tolerant and can provide shade for the beds below with their leaves. Compost mixed under the soil improves the soil's ability to absorb and store nutrients. The watering of green spaces is always done in the morning or evening so that moisture does not evaporate in the sunshine. 

Go for green energy 

The choice of green energy has never been greater. Pay attention to how your green energy is certified by your electricity provider. Where you have an option for green energy, choose a tariff that is at least 50% powered by renewable energy. In many cases, switching to solar energy from your own roof is even better for energy independence and greater savings. 

With photovoltaic systems and energy storage, homes today already supply up to 75% of their energy needs with clean electricity. This is a valuable contribution to the energy transition, because as more households switch to renewable energies, the faster fossil fuels become superfluous. 

Through decentralized power plants like the sonnen VPP, owners of solar systems and energy storage systems can do something good for society as a whole. By absorbing or feeding electricity into the grid, grids across the country are stabilized, power outages can be avoided, and clean energy can benefit everyone. 

Buy local and regional 

Shorter transport routes mean less CO2 emissions. But those who buy local or regionally grown produce can contribute much more to climate protection. 

If you prefer to buy food from local producers, you support the local agricultural industry and build greater awareness around how and where products are produced. Local shops are also happy about the support and are usually ready with much better service than competing online suppliers. 

Buying local products also means you are more likely to be eating more seasonal produce which reduces the need for fresh food to be put in cold storage or transported. As a reward, you can enjoy a varied, seasonal diet and support local producers for their work. More independence, less greenhouse gases, better produce quality - buying local has many benefits for people and the environment. 

Protect bees 

Hard to believe, but according to the experts a third of the world's food production depends on bees. Meaning, we owe about 30%  of our food, especially fruits and vegetables, to the work of these industrious little bees. 

It is therefore all the more alarming that the living conditions of wild bees are becoming increasingly difficult. In particular, the use of pesticides, overfertilization and cleared landscapes without hedges and wildflowers are taking their toll on the helpful insects. 

So, what can be done? A simple and beautiful way to support the bees is to create a bee-friendly garden or balcony. Even small areas provide shelter and food for the bees. The more varied the planting, the better - so there is something for each of the over 500 species of wild bees. 

If there is enough space, an insect hotel made of natural materials can also be installed. In a sunny but weather-protected place, grateful bees will soon nest in their new shelter. 

Think first, then buy new 

For many decades now, people in the rich industrialized countries have been talking about a "throwaway society". Unfortunately, this is true because our waste production has never been greater. 

The motto "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" may sound old-fashioned, but it is still highly topical against the background of large volumes of waste that gets transported around the globe. 

A new level of awareness around buying quality products that are made to last and the constant questioning of overconsumption should stop the trend towards throwing things away. After all, every product, whether in production or transport, leaves a significant carbon footprint. 

Before every purchase, you should ask yourself: Do I really need this? Can't I repair my old one? And if I do need something new, isn't there a good second-hand alternative? 

Share knowledge and get involved 

Education and awareness-raising play a crucial role in promoting sustainability. Share your knowledge with others and support initiatives that promote environmental protection and sustainability. The power of community is not only within the sonnenCommunity. The loud protests of activist groups like "Fridays for Future" or Greenpeace have also led to public debates for years, which are reflected in political decisions and laws.