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Sharing Zero Waste Eco-Friendly Tips, Inspiration and Success.

I dislike packing for vacation. Very much.

I either overpack, organising things way in advance in neat piles and visualising outfits that I’ll end up not wearing, or I throw a few random things in a bag, at the last minute, in a moment of panic, telling myself “it’s a quick trip! I’ll deal with it when I get there!” Then end up missing basic comforts.

Such as warmth, because I didn’t bring a jacket. Or “dealing with it” turns into scratching my face with the thin tissue from the hotel bathroom because I forgot my beloved reusable bamboo cotton pads.

Now - don’t mistake me, I love vacations. I love leaving everything I know behind, the routines, the same four walls, the responsibilities. And most excitingly, I love throwing myself into new environments, discovering natural beauty, experiencing my body in different climates and landscapes, trying new foods, new rhythms.

But speaking of environment, I also recognise that we have a big impact when we hop on planes willy-nilly and expect ecosystems across the world to make way for us, tourists. To provide us, strangers to the land, with food, lodgings, water, entertainment…

There is such a thing as eco-friendly holidays. That will be another topic of research and practice for me...but lately I’ve been forced to think more about staycations anyways because, well, COVID-19, which seems to end most sentences these days.

How’s work? Well, since COVID…

Have you seen your family much this year? Well, online video calls and family quizzes are a little different now due to COVID ... You get the point.

And just like us, vacations have not been immune to COVID-19. Making plans to go anywhere has been more overwhelming than at any other time. Can we trust hotel cleaning practices? What if the beach is crowded? Airplanes? Don’t get me started.

So, why not try a vacation where I :

1) do not work (really?)

2) do not spend money on overnight stays and

3) do not pack!

If I really take the time to explore what’s closer to me, can I meet all my vacation requirements? I can leave my four walls for day-long trips; I can vacate the mental load of routines and responsibilities by simply deciding to do so (and shutting off electronic notifications.) I can definitely explore landscapes I haven’t explored before within a two hour train (or bike?) ride (if you are blessed to live in Europe that is, and not in the middle of Kansas.)

Stay-cations, despite the ugly word, have some real plusses for sustainable living. Limiting carbon footprint from transportation, focusing on our often overlooked local environment, including local shops, music venues or restaurants I never have time to go to when I’m working. And just think about my progress towards zero-waste with all those plastic bottles I will not be buying!

The trick is to really make a decision to “vacate,” to choose to be in the mental vacation mode...and to set a budget. How much would I be spending on a week away? How much am I saving on airfare? I may just treat myself to new (organic cotton) 5-star hotel sheets, meal deliveries, and a babysitter + fancy dinner. A shopping day, maybe, for souvenirs and new sustainable clothing?

Best part? I get to keep some of the routines that work for the little ones, appreciate my own walls and soft bamboo cotton pads, crash in my own, perfectly set up bed...

And not pack!

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Updated: Sep 26, 2020

After reading this article, you are going to want to move to South Korea! Songdo is the most advanced and sustainable city in the world. They don't even have trash trucks.

Instead, they have pneumatic pipes that suck trash to central sorting facilities. How cool is that? Without the diesel trucks, their carbon footprint is far lower. In fact Songdo's is a third of cities the same size.

Just by living here, you're saving the world

About the City

Songdo is near the megacity of Seoul. So though many similar cities have failed at attracting people, Songdo will grow. Seol's population of 9.7 million people needs a place to expand to, and that place is the sustainable Songdo.

When it comes to city planning, we tend to think that it's already done. What can I do now? But this was a fresh slate and an opportunity to do it right. So the government of South Korea invested 30 billion dollars.

That's a lot of money, but it's an investment in our future.

Trees and convenience

When people move to cities, they start missing fresh air. "I love the convenience", they say, but "I miss the trees".

Songdo is the best of both worlds. It's hard not to feel good when 40% of the city is green space. Walking paths take priority in the streets, in addition to fifteen miles of bike loops interwoven into the layout.

There's even a 101-acre park in the middle of the city. Made in the image of Central Park, it's a great addition to a sustainable place.

With all this green space, you would think you’d have to sacrifice transportation. But you would be wrong!

The creators wanted to give up on cars. After all, they create a big carbon footprint. So they studied the patterns of the individual. How can I convince them to be green? The studies revealed that people were willing to walk 12-minutes on average. After that, they’d be taking a car. So that’s how the city is designed. Every 12-minutes there is a transit stop. Now anywhere in the city can be reached by walking!

However, if you still need your car. There are innovations for you too. All the parking spaces are underground. Not only is this aesthetically pleasing, but it decreases the heat produced by cars in the summer.

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle

After reading all this, you know they must be recycling. But how?

Once all the trash is sucked down the pipes to the collection facility, the trash is automatically sorted. The remaining waste is either burned for energy or buried underground.

Songdo is also very smart with their water system. 40% of it is reused for flushing toilets and cleaning the streets. They even collect the rainwater to irrigate the green spaces.

Everything in this city is being reused, reduced, or recycled. There is no reason for you to waste anything while living in Songdo.

The Smart City

It’s no wonder that Songdo is nicknamed the “smart” city. Their innovations could save cities all around the world. Imagine a world where there are no trash trucks?

That little solution alone could change the way we know our planet. Yes, city planning is better as a forethought. But that doesn’t mean we can’t incorporate these concepts into already existing cities!

Our state representatives are here to serve us. Write them a letter. Let them know how this would make life better for their citizens.

And if that doesn’t work, you could always move to Songdo.

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by cc-Admin

Do we really want to go back to “normal”?

The 2020 pandemic threw a wrench in our way of life. It also highlighted a lot of the failures of the systems we have come to rely on.

For many of us, “normal” before COVID meant a frenzy of doing, buying, outsourcing, commuting. It meant using up resources a lot of us do not have: money, time, energy in a variety of forms.

It also meant the inability to meet some of our most fundamental human needs: being, being together, real connection, creativity, to name but a few.

Then: COVID-19 began to rage across much of the planet’s body.

Or was it the planet herself who was raging?

Demanding our attention to the failing health of our life systems: economies that serve a few and push many to the brink in the historical blink of an eye, the crazed transportation of people and stuff, and the overall abuse of our most essential system: the ecological one.

For a little while, our normal stopped.

We hunkered down, stayed home--families used to the daily spreading of members squeezed together for entire weeks, others alone, not driving places, not buying stuff.

We got used to interacting with masks on, and to push buttons with our elbows.

We also began to remember:

That we are made to be creative.

To be together.

To be outside!

We experienced our global interdependence.

While everything slowed down, we noticed the air was easier to breathe. We could smell each plant! We could hear birds in a way we hadn’t before.

We took note of which business was truly “essential,” and realised that a lot of what we had been doing to survive was not necessary, as it was quickly wiped from the economy.

A veil lifted on what was considered “normal.”

We now have a historic opportunity to redraw the storyboards that made us consume everything from disposable coffee cups to our own humanity.

Can we recreate a new normal, one where we remain vigilant to what is truly essential? Can we shift our attention and practices to a way of living that fosters win-win for us, for the planet and all its inhabitants?

Yes we can! We’ve already started! With our decisions about where to live and what to do for work. With big purchases (do I need a car? Should I get an electric one?) as well as the smaller daily buys in our households (local and organic food, non-toxic cleaning products, reusable water bottles or bamboo cotton pads...)

Beyond that, we are also asking ourselves : will buying this benefit someone beside me? Will this product contribute to damaging, or to regenerating habitat? Will this purchase degrade or improve another’s quality of life?

In thinking macro and acting micro, we sustain and strengthen the markets that support and regenerate everything from human connections to ecological fabrics. We give momentum to a positive loop and build, choice by choice, the circular economy that will take care of everyone.

#sustainable #zerowasteliving #lifeaftercovid

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