In my personal experience, sustainable lifestyle choices are full of contradictions. I started the new year by doing a carbon footprint assessment of 2018. The results told me that despite my efforts to live sustainably my carbon footprint was 8,030kg of CO2, only just below that of an average Finnish person. My lower-than-average carbon footprint for housing, food and consumption was offset by a huge transportation footprint which made up over half of the CO2 I had used that year.
As somebody who thinks a lot about how to live simply and sustainably I feel ashamed to admit that in 2018, I flew nine times to Sweden and twice to England. I also flew in mainland Europe twice as part of a climate change summer school. Despite efforts to cut down my every day consumption, there are elements of my lifestyle that are entirely unsustainable and which I find hard to reconcile. I live away from both my family and boyfriend which makes flying seem like a necessity and I am keen to take part in international events.
When studying a subject like sustainability it can feel easy to judge how other people live without realising the hypocrisy in our own lifestyles. I think this applies beyond the individual to society as well. At international conferences it is often those who have the largest carbon footprints who are deciding how others should live. Privilege brings both opportunity and responsibility for our own actions.
This year my personal resolution is to be more creative which is why I wanted to share this illustration based on an article titled: Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin and Arnold Mitchell. The article inspired me to think of ways I can make my life outwardly simple and inwardly rich. As you can see from my carbon footprint, I have a long way to go but the time to act is more urgent than ever. My resolution for the planet is to live more closely by my beliefs and to shed light on my own shortcomings.
Click here for the full article: Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin and Arnold Mitchell