Environmental awareness in society is on the rise. We pay attention to the problems of food waste, lack of drinking water, and especially concerning recently, air pollution. The condition of our planet does make us anxious, but deep in our hearts we hope for solutions. However, there is no miracle cure and the changes can only be made step by step, as we all play our part.
In June, “Forbes” named Katowice the most eco-friendly city in Poland, mainly in appreciation for its fight against smog. Surely, a good example should come from the top, which does not mean we can remain passive. Every action has a real influence on our reality. Let’s begin at home with changing our daily habits. How? You’ll find some tips in the first part of our eco-handbook.
We’ve been told this since childhood – mainly with respect to money. Therefore, when we started earning our first “grown-up” money and could finally afford to make our first small dreams come true, the whole saving thing became much less appealing. However, we have slowly learned to understand it in a context wider than finances. It’s just as important to save what is scarce in nature or what affects our environment when produced – mainly water and electricity.
Water may be included in your rent, which does not have to mean doing your dishes with the water running. Just like with brushing your teeth and for you men, when shaving – simply turn the water off when possible. As the lucky owner of a bathtub, you don’t need to fill it to the brim to enjoy a lavish bath, have a tub will do.
Another thing is electricity. The small savings will not show instantly, but little by little does the trick. Turn the lights off when you leave a room. When you’re leaving home for the weekend unplug the chargers and make sure your devices are not on stand-by. Replace regular light bulbs with LED. Do the laundry when you actually have a full load.
Save paper – don’t print unnecessary invoices or e-mails and use both sides of your notebook pages. Use your smartphone ”Notes” and ”Calendar” – it’s usually at hand anyway, and all the files can be easily edited and shared with others. We aren’t saying stop buying books (which we love), but if your favourite newspaper comes in the e-version, use it. The life span of the printed one is as long as it takes for you to read it, plus a couple more days lying around the sofa after all.
Drink Tap Water
Over 2 billion people in the world have no access to drinking water. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Statistics aside, we have our daily rituals. How about a big sip of tap water?
In Katowice, the quality of city water is good enough to drink safely. The city authorities and its KatoObywatel [KatoCitizen] initiative run the program #szluknijsiezkokotka [drink from the tap] and recommend it as cheaper and more eco. This initiative is increasingly being joined by Katowice pubs and restaurants, which serve tap water for free (here you can find a list).
Drinking tap water is also directly connected with the issue of plastic overuse – drinking the recommended 2–3 litres of water, we throw away at least one plastic bottle a day, and this comes up to several hundred a year! Plus a six pack of water makes for heavy lifting when it comes to replenishing the stock…
If you’re not sure about drinking straight from the tap, invest in a water filter pitcher. When leaving home, take a reusable bottle and refill it regularly. Every Friday and Saturday in the summer, hit the market square for a glass of refreshing “tap water” from the soda fountain sponsored by the city and the Katowice Water Department.
There’s also great news for the passengers at Pyrzowice airport – the A and B terminals have been recently equipped with watering stations where you can refill your water bottle. No more stress to find the expensive bottled water before departure. Finally!
According to the FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), the world wastes ⅓ of its food a year. This amount is hard to imagine looking at a standard fridge. However, having opened it you do find things good for nothing but the trash. You bought something on sale, or because they came in cheaper multi-packs, or because the third one was almost free. Sounds familiar? It’s time to plan ahead!
A shopping list will make it easier to navigate the shop aisles. Instead of writing it down on a piece of paper, download one of the grocery shopping list apps like Listonic.
When faced with a “bargain”, ask yourself: Do I really need this? It will help you plan your shopping budget and not be surprised at the checkout. All this to the benefit of our planet and your wallet alike, reducing the risk of some of your shopping landing in the trash.
Buy Locally and Responsibly
Don’t go raspberry hunting in December and hold off your cravings for ripe tomatoes in February. Limit your consumption of what travels tens of thousands of kilometres before filling your shopping cart. The increasing demand for fashionable foods, especially “exotic” ones, leaves its mark on the environment. Have you heard about the forests being cut down so that oil palms can be planted? But, did you know about a similar situation concerning avocados? Mexico’s pine forests also also being cut down so avocado trees can be planted.
Instead of marvelling over the goji berry, go to your local market and see what is in season. In the center of Katowice you can find several great market places, such as in Koszutka or at Plac Miarki. On Wednesday and Saturday take a large bag and visit the Biobazar in the former Huta Baildon [Baildon Steelworks]. You will be able to buy fruit and vegetables, dairy products, meat, and a plethora of other products from proven local suppliers. Interestingly, in Biobazar, your purchases will also be packed in your own containers.
The eco-friendy approach refers to cosmetics as well – they may be a bit more expensive, but you can be sure that they use only natural and eco-friendly ingredients. Whenever possible, choose small manufacturers which focus on the process as well as effects. An interesting and convenient solution – not only for travellers – are the multitask cosmetics, functioning as shower gel, shampoo, and soap for example. The “smart” bars are space-saving as well as cost-efficient.
At Bio Bazar you can get local fruits and veggies, organic products, and even artisan cosmetics.
Another piece of sound advice, which turns out to be tough to follow: whatever you use, use to the last drop, crumb, and piece. Quite a lot can be squeezed out of a seemingly empty tube of toothpaste or cream. Start with using the products you bought first, following the FIFO principle (First In, First Out). And if you know you will not be able to finish something and there is the risk that half of your mum’s Christmas stock will land in the trash, share it. All year long, food can be donated to your nearest soup kitchen and you can find the full list at podzielmysie.pl. Simply take the excess food to the given address. Over Christmas and Easter, there are special programs and a volunteer will pick the food up at your place. The dates and details are provided on their websites and Facebook. And if you are the one who wants to “hunt” for something in the no waste spirit, use the Foodsi app, where restaurants offer left-over food from the day at half price. Also, in Katowice, Foodsi is being joined by the first eateries – download the app and catch the bargains!
Old habits die hard. It takes engagement and changing your routines. Start with small, everyday practices, and see how quickly they become second nature. And sometimes, raise a refreshing glass of tap water to the health of our planet!
The second part of our handbook is coming soon.