Living Green

Living Green

contributor: Francis van Schaik

Put glass in the bottle bank, cycle more often, recycle: you are being green. But it can always be greener. With these sustainable tips, for example.

Warm shelter

The era of tiles seems passé: you see more and more planted city gardens. That looks a lot nicer, is nicer for insects and birds – they find more food there than on a bare stone plain – and the greenery also absorbs CO2. If you don’t have a garden, consider installing a green roof. This is good for biodiversity, it keeps your house cooler in the summer and insulates against the cold in the winter. It also collects rainwater, which helps against flooding. Last but not least: it looks beautiful. On you will find certified ‘green roof’ companies.

Lightly packed

How embarrassing: in the Netherlands alone, we throw away between 97 and 123 kilos of food per person every year (figures from 2020).

Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at our own cooking, eating and purchasing patterns. It seems logical that you don’t have to cook for an orphanage if there are two of you. But be aware of the temptation that lurks in the supermarket, where you fall into the trap of your own purchasing lust with tempting offers – two for the price of one. What are you going to do with two cauliflowers, four cucumbers or ten kilos of apples? If you have no plans for it, the only person who will be happy about it is the boss of the supermarket.

Let it blow

We live a bit more up-tempo and are more ready for something different. A lot of shops respond to this cleverly. You can buy a new wardrobe for next to nothing or load a shopping cart full of home furnishings. You take it for granted that the side table falls through its legs after six months, because it cost almost nothing. Well, nothing? In front of this table, somewhere in a faraway country – where they are not so concerned with CO2 emissions – a chimney has belched out a lot of dirty smoke. A container ship with the table then sailed across the oceans and finally it was transported to the store by a rumbling truck. You don’t want to know what a table like that costs. Green tip: don’t follow trends, let them blow over. With every purchase, ask yourself whether you are sure you want to live happily ever after.

The small print

Are you just as happy with your triple-A economical washing machine, from now on you will only be doing super economical washing. Well, not quite so. These appliances are much more economical than a ‘regular’ A+, but they only work if you run the laundry with the eco program, with the special eco button. Please read the instructions for use carefully. It’s really there. If you do a load of laundry on the regular setting, the three-star machine consumes just as much power as its less economical brothers. This also applies to dishwashers with an eco button.

It’s fine this way

A satisfied person has less need for new things. Look at everything you have and what you can do, and don’t focus too much on what you still want to do or want to have. Write down things you are grateful for and hang them up. Do something every day that makes you happy and enjoy it. Don’t forget your loved ones and send them a text or card telling them what they mean to you. Skip the news for a day and look around you at what is going well in the world. And think about what you can contribute to making the world a better place. Starting a more sustainable life is a great first step.

Some more tips:

  • Collect your waste at home in one place, which makes you stricter in its separation.
  • Collect rainwater in a rain barrel and use it to water the plants.
  • Pick up the litter around your house every now and then. You might also light the neighbors.
  • Fix that leaky tap: if 10 drops fall out per minute, that’s 200 liters of drinking water per year.
  • You don’t have to keep eggs, peppers, carrots, zucchini and tomatoes in the refrigerator. That saves energy.
  • A desktop computer uses four times as much power as a laptop. A tablet is even more economical.
  • Take a fresh look at your home. Where could you easily save energy?
  • Challenge yourself to take shorter showers and see if you can make it even shorter next time.
  • Eat seasonal vegetables: it is cheap and is not flown in from far away.
  • Take your bike for all rides shorter than five kilometers. You feel fitter and it saves fuel.
  • Make sure you always have a compact foldable shopping bag with you.
  • Replace every bulb that dies with a sustainable LED lamp.
  • Hang briefly worn clothing outside to air out instead of washing it.



Francis van Schaik

Francis van Schaik is a coach of young people and also a student of human relationships with nature, the world and Truth. She regularly contributes to our online magazine. Francis is the regular contributor of articles in this page.