On a global scale, 2016 and the beginning of 2017 has been a time of great contrasts and upheaval. While the world saw agreement on 17 inspiring UN SDG’s, and real enthusiasm around a global climate agenda in Paris, we have also seen dark forces emerge on all continents – working hard to reverse these monumental gains.
We have all seen and experienced these forces – ranging from a rampage of extremism and terrorist attacks on innocent people, to new “democratic” governments wielding their axe on international collaboration and joint efforts to secure a sustainable planet for future generations.
Self-interest, segregation and alternative facts have been accepted mantras.
All this happens while my family and I continue to live our lives in “a peaceful, orderly and affluent bubble”. Of course, issues and challenges also exist in our community, and the impact for affected citizens is real. But when seen against the gloomy and scary global backdrop, these local issues can easily feel trivial, all while the global developments can feel totally disconnected with how we live our lives. Not good. Not easy.
I strongly believe it is important to connect the two worlds. And to do it fast.
Our family has always enjoyed “testing out” new, fun and “greener” products & “lifestyles. We share the interest and urge to move toward a more sustainable household, but hardly being experts in any of this. We believe that looking for the perfect solution – too easily can stop us from nudging forward, learning and then choosing an even better option the next time around.
This year – provoked by “the dark forces” – we decided to take a step forward, and “organized” our household climate agenda into twelve areas – in which we will try to make better and more sustainable choices.
#1 PLASTIC (not) FANTASTIC
Until last year, I must admit, our household awareness of the “plastic issue” was fairly limited, and we pretty much used plastic as everyone else did.
In our Municipality, Asker, we have a very efficient system for plastic collection. Gradually we became aware that the growing heaps of plastic we collected and returned every week.
The last 12 months has seen a surge in media attention with “the plastic problem”. It has worked on us, and we really feel a sense of urgency seeing how plastic is affecting our oceans, and especially how it threatens bird- and marine life.
We “suddenly” also became aware that plastic is “all around us”, and used for a million trivial everyday tasks. But we also soon realized that there are so many cool alternatives available, and we found it fun and challenging to try them out.
Ever try the Swedish bamboo toothbrush – Humble Brush? Not only functional and sustainable, but based on the same “one for one” philosophy as Toms shoes.
Or what about replacing Tupperware with glass or ceramics? Or replacing “Glad-pack” with reusable “showercaps” for keeping food leftovers fresh?
Our ambition is to find more alternatives, while reclaiming and recycling 100%. No prob!
#2 GOODBYE “BIG OIL” – FOREVER
My God how good it feels to say this….! And yes, this is what we will do in 2017; at least when it comes to transportation. Never, ever tank again with Shell, Exxon or any of the oil companies.
We bought our first electric car back in 2006, and loved it. Despite being a “generation Zero EV”, it was used as the family’s #2 car nearly every day for 6 years. Then changing needs allowed us to have only one car, and we sold our dear REVA.
Now, we are finally ready to replace our diesel Volvo station-wagon with a “real” electric car – and now as our only car. In September, our fossil age is over. From now on we will only drive our new electric Huynday Ioniq. The only exception may be the occasional short-term renting of a more roomy, old-fashion gas-guzzler for special needs.
In Norway, we are not alone. Almost 1 of 4 new cars sold are 100% electric – and charging stations are everywhere, making the transition easy and fun.
Our “second car” is Marianne’s new ECOride e-bike. What an incredible “invention”! It has already become very popular with our two youngsters as well, and allows for quick and easy travel in our hilly community.
#3 STOP SHOP Light
A few years back, realizing that adding two more shirts to “my collection” wasn’t going to make me a happier guy, a better husband or a more loving father – I took a year off from shopping.
That meant not buying any “things” except daily necessities, but while still enjoying cinemas, eating out, “experiences”, along with some travelling. I have never really enjoyed shopping, so this year was actually quite easy, and not surprisingly very healthy for the household finances!
Do we need to throw out everything we own – following recent fads? Or stop buying anything at all – altogether. Well, that’s not the plan.
In 2017, our concept is adapted and a bit more pragmatic.
Our new mantra is “purchase new to replace”. The focus is to buy what we really need, replace when things are not fixable, reuse and refit, collect & recycle all used fabrics, purchase quality, donate and sell things not needed anymore and start roaming second-hand stores.
#4 GREEN POWER ALL AROUND
This really is a no-brainer for our family. My job is all about enabling consumers and businesses to gain access to clean, green and renewable power, so how could we NOT do this in our household.
Most people are used to buying power from their local power company, but many are not yet requesting that their power should come from renewable sources. The origin of power really does matter!
This year we have changed power suppliers (again) – aggregating all our power needs for our family house, our small mountain cabin, and my mother’s summer house. We have chosen to bring “our business” to a local start-up solar provider called Otovo. Otovo is innovative, responsive and with a strategy to provide locally produced power to its customers – be it solar, wind or hydropower.
Although Norway already has an abundance of renewable power production, we still decided to start producing our own solar power this spring. In combination with our thermal heating system, the solar power will have reduced our external energy need by 75%, compared with a comparable house.
Stay tuned. I will be back soon to share my experiences with the other 8 steps my family chose for fighting climate change.