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New year, new sustainable me

2024 is upon us, and with this year, many people (myself included) will be looking to reinvent themselves.

Photographs: Pexels

Text: Rikke Skak Harboe

The new year brings new opportunities for personal growth and positive change, causing me to think of more sustainable ways of living and consuming.

One way to embrace this new sustainable self is by creating a more sustainable lifestyle. Here are a few ideas on how to kickstart your own journey towards a more sustainable "you" in the new year:

1. My first suggestion is to reduce waste:

You can try to minimise your waste by incorporating methods such as recycling, composting, and saying no thanks to single-use plastics. Examples of this could be opting for reusable shopping bags, water bottles, and coffee cups. Those new to Denmark might not know that recycling is already a normative behaviour in Denmark. The Danish government strongly emphasises sustainability and environmental consciousness, and as a result, recycling has been actively promoted and encouraged for decades. In Denmark, recycling is not just limited to household waste. We have an extensive system for sorting and recycling different types of waste, such as paper, glass, plastic, metal, and organic waste. Recycling bins are available throughout cities and towns, making it easy to separate and dispose of waste responsibly. Recently, many households have also gotten their own compost bins or started community composting initiatives. You can also try reducing food waste by planning meals and buying only what you need. Additionally, you can donate excess food to local food banks or participate in initiatives like "Too Good to Go," where you can purchase restaurant leftovers at reduced prices.

2. My second suggestion is to choose sustainable fashion:

Supporting sustainable fashion brands or thrift stores when refreshing your wardrobe, avoiding fast fashion, and investing in quality pieces that will last longer are ways to be more sustainable within your shopping habits. You can even consider repairing or altering old clothes instead of throwing them away. There are several options for choosing sustainable fashion in Aalborg, where I am located. You can explore the city's many thrift stores and vintage shops, such as Reden Genbrug, Røde Kors Genbrug, and Igen Genbrug. These stores offer unique and pre-loved clothing items. You can also look for local designers who prioritise sustainable practices. Look for brands that use organic and recycled materials and prioritise fair trade, ethical production, or even eco-friendly brands. Another idea is exploring clothing rental services. This concept has become more common in recent years, where you rent clothes for special occasions rather than buy something new. Renting allows for waste reduction and promotes the sharing economy.

3. You can also start being more conscious of conserving energy:

Make an effort to reduce your energy consumption by turning off lights when not in use or using energy-efficient light bulbs by replacing traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient LED or CFL bulbs. These bulbs use significantly less energy and last longer. You can also start unplugging electronics when they're not being used and adjusting your thermostat to be mindful of energy waste. Many companies also offer programmable thermostats to regulate temperature settings and lower heating and cooling costs.

4. You can support eco-friendly transportation:

Whenever possible, you can switch out your car for public transportation, carpool with your colleagues to work, and use the very Danish transportation option of cycling or even walking. If you need a car, consider purchasing an electric or hybrid vehicle, as more and more options are available. Electric and hybrid vehicles offer several advantages over traditional gas-powered cars, including lower operating costs, reduced emissions, and potential tax incentives. Another advantage of electric and hybrid vehicles is their reduced emissions. They produce fewer or no tailpipe emissions as they run on electricity or a combination of electricity and gasoline. This helps to mitigate air pollution and reduce carbon emissions, contributing to a cleaner and healthier environment.

Remember, sustainability is a journey, and being kind to yourself along the way is essential. Making small changes consistently will add up to significant progress and create a positive impact on your own life and the planet.

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