Things we buy
What can I do?
Living sustainably is about maintaining an ecological balance with the planet by avoiding the depletion of its natural resources. Unfortunately, we are constantly using these resources to produce the vast amount of ‘stuff’ that we consume. The sourcing of these materials is one of the greatest threats to the planet’s biodiversity, causing habitat degradation and fragmentation, leaving less and less space in which nature can thrive. The familiar slogan of “reduce, reuse, recycle” still rings true and the easiest way to reduce your impact on the planet’s biodiversity is to simply reduce how much ‘stuff’ you consume. That being said, what about those instances where you really need something?
Certifications and quality marks
The main question that faces us is ’what is a sustainable source?’. There are a wide range of sustainability certifications which relate to environmental, social and ethical issues. One of the best known of these is the FSC label, which indicates a given piece of wood or paper is sourced more sustainably. The FSC system protects the habitat of plants and animals and respects the rights of the local populations and forest workers. The FSC certification is, of course, only one such example. You can find an expanded list of quality marks to keep an eye out for while shopping here.
The latest fashion
Sustainable fashion avoids harming the planet, animals or people. Unfortunately, there is no widely used label like the FSC in fashion, but more ways to identify sustainable clothes are coming up in form of apps or websites. A quick search will provide you with plenty of options. The impact of our clothing choices on biodiversity also depends on the materials used and how they are treated. Think for example about the pesticides used to protect plants and the process of raising animals. Even better than buying animal products however is avoiding them totally and opting for animal-free fashion. The word vegan is not only restricted to food these days, you can also find it on shoes, bags, belts, etc.
Of course, you can also choose for secondhand clothing. Visit a secondhand shop or look online on Marktplaats, Vinted or Facebook Marketplace. Or why not start leasing clothes, rather than buying new ones continually, minimising excess production and waste. Also keep an eye out for clothing swaps in your local area or organize one yourself.
Gifts and goodies
We all love a good party. However, no one likes showing up to a party empty handed and we all know the panic of last-minute present buying. In the struggle to find something to give, we run the risk of giving unnecessary stuff simply for the sake of tradition. Choose for secondhand gifts, make something yourself or pick out an experience. These gifts show thought and care and are often much more valued than expensive ones. Alternatively, why not consider some more biodiversity-friendly gifts like the ones you can buy from environmental organizations; for example a piece of nature.
- Check out student organization DuKo, they offer discounts on sustainable products for students.
- Watch the Story of Stuff video (21:16 minutes)
- Calculate the impact of the stuff you buy and more: ‘My hidden impact’ / ‘Mijn verborgen impact’
- Learn about the negative sides of Fast Fashion by watching the episodes of Genaaid, NPO3
- Watch Tegenlicht Future Fashion
- Watch The True Cost