German influencer and model Pamela Reif shares her best tips for sustainable living in a video in partnership with international clothing retailer NA-KD Fashion.
Sustainability is one of the biggest challenges facing us today. It's in the mind of conscious consumers for many good reasons. Increased environmental awareness drives people to make more mindful decisions.
There are plenty of ways to be environmentally friendly. You don't have to make drastic changes to your lifestyle to help other people, animals, and the planet.
With only a few simple adjustments, you can significantly reduce carbon emissions, pollution, waste, and natural resource consumption.
Here are 5 simple yet very effective tips for sustainable living from Pamela Reif.
1. Get a reusable water bottle
Pamela Reif explains that avoiding plastic bottles is one of the best things you can do to protect the environment. It's not enough to recycle plastic waste. It's much better to not use any plastic in the first place.
Plastic takes years to decompose and a lot of energy to recycle. Buy a reusable water bottle and use a filter for tap water. It greatly limits how much rubbish goes out into the world.
More than 300 million tons of plastics are produced every year, as reported by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). And 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean. Only less than 10% of all plastic is recycled.
The equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic is leaking into our oceans every minute of every day of the year, as reported by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
2. Bring your shopping bag
Bring a reusable shopping bag when buying groceries. This is another helpful tip for sustainable living from Pamela Reif.
Reusable shopping bags are a great way to reduce waste as most plastic bags end up in landfills. Littered plastic bags are everywhere today.
Many of them end up in the wild and threaten wildlife. They are deceptive for birds and other wildlife, who mistake it for food and die from starvation. Only a small portion of Polyethylene plastic is ever recycled.
Plastic waste has a disastrous impact on the environment, people, and animals. It releases plastic microfibers that pollute the air, water, and entire food chains, threatening human health, wildlife, and the planet.
Half a million tons of plastic microfibers are dumped into the ocean every year, the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles.
3. Buy sustainable fashion
Our fashion addiction and excessive consumerism are extremely damaging to the environment. Overproduction and overconsumption have led the textile and apparel industry to become one of the largest polluters in the world.
Born in Karlsruhe in 1996, Pamela Reif grew up in a fashion boutique owned by her mother for over 35 years. She is passionate about bringing awareness to sustainable fashion.
She has already launched two very successful sustainable collections with NA-KD Fashion. The pieces are stylish, comfortable, affordable, and made with sustainable materials.
It's imperative to make more environmentally conscious choices and preserve the Earth. It comes down to decreasing textile waste, water, air, and soil pollution, hazardous chemicals, and carbon emissions.
Changing your shopping habits, boycotting unethical fashion brands, and switching to sustainably made clothing help transform the current wasteful fashion system.
Buy fashion from sustainable fashion brands. Choose brands that make a difference and a conscious effort to preserve nature as well as the well-being of all workers along the value chain.
Support companies that use business as a force for good and avoid fashion brands that don't make enough progress toward reducing their social and environmental impacts.
4. Take the train, not the plane
What is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions? You guessed it. It's unregulated carbon pollution from aviation, as reported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
As demand for air travel rises, the entire aviation sector could triple its emissions by 2050 if we don't take immediate action. It's driving global climate change massively.
The aviation industry carried 2.4 billion passengers in 2010. That number is estimated to reach 16 billion by 2050 if the trend continues.
By taking a train instead of a plane whenever possible, you can reduce your carbon footprint drastically.
Pamela Reif takes the train as often as possible, especially for business travels within Germany, even if the train trip is much longer than a trip by plane.
Of course, train and plane emissions vary depending on a lot of factors. To calculate carbon emissions of electric trains, how full the train is and the source of electricity can make a big difference.
A train trip is virtually always better than a plane trip, often by a lot. According to EcoPassenger, a journey from London to Rome would emit 52.9kg of carbon dioxide by train but 264.8kg by plane.
5. Eat vegan plant-based meals
More and more people are eating plant-based meals thanks to their proven health and environmental benefits.
Even if only a small minority of people are vegan, more consumers are actively trying to eat more plant-based foods.
All animal products, such as milk, cheese, cream, and other dairy products, honey, most alcohols, fish, eggs, and meat are excluded.
A plant-based meal is made of minimally-processed plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Protecting the environment, improving your health, and saving animal lives are some of the many good reasons to start a plant-based diet.
Here is what Pamela Reif has to say about it:
"I’m not a vegetarian myself, but I do think that eating mainly plant-based is very healthy and you don’t need to be a full "vegan" to eat plant-based 80% of the time. There are levels in between. Even for environmental reasons eating animal products should become something "special" again. There’s no need to eat fish every day (our oceans are overfished TO THE MAX) and meat is also not a necessity on your daily dinner plate. And it’s seriously not that hard. There are so many delicious plant-based dishes you can cook."
Intensive farming and killing of animals create massive quantities of methane, as a by-product of farm animals' digestion, which accelerates global warming.
Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gas because of its ability to absorb heat in the atmosphere.
One kilogram of methane warms the planet as much as 80 times more than one kilogram of carbon dioxide, as estimated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Animal agriculture, livestock, and animal feed is a significant driver of deforestation and is also responsible for approximately 60% of direct global greenhouse gas emissions.
Eating less dairy and meat not only reduces your risk of heart diseases, diabetes, and certain cancers but also cut down emissions, waste, and pollution from agricultural farming drastically.
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.