I saved 10000 liters of water by upcycling old bedsheets

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We talk about reusing and recycling clothes all the time, but bedsheets use a lot of fabric too! I needed a new duvet cover, and I realised how much fabric (a.k.a. natural resources) that actually takes to make. I couldn’t find any secondhand duvet covers that would fit a double sized duvet. Selling your old sheets doesn’t seem to be a thing! Instead, I went to my parents and asked them for some old sheets they do not use anymore. Believe me, people tend to have stuff accumulating over the years at a crazy rate so they had quite a few odd ones to spare! No double sized ones were to be found so I took two single sized ones and made a new cover out of them. Both of them were at least 20 years old, but still of very good quality.

Two old sheets, scissors, a few needles, thread and my grandmothers sewing machine. Voila, it took about 3 hours in total. A new double sized duvet cover would have cost at least 50 euro. This cost me absolutely nothing and I love how it ended up looking! About 2000 liters of water are used for producing a cotton t-shirt, so for producing a duvet cover made from cotton, it would take approximately 10000 liters of fresh water. I really managed to save a lot of natural resources by reusing the textiles for a new duvet cover!

The double sized duvet I got was unfortunately brand new and I don’t really know its environmental footprint.  But I really like my new duvet so I guess it’s worth the environmental price. I did check online for a secondhand big duvet but when I could not find one I bought a new one. A lot of people would find the thought of a secondhand duvet a bit disgusting. I would not mind using a secondhand one, I would just have it properly washed at the dry-cleaner. When I lived in England, I had a secondhand duvet. It turned out to be quite difficult to sell when I moved away! Secondhand duvets are just fine if they’re only a couple of years old, I wish more people realised that used stuff isn’t un-fresh at all.

I gave my old duvet to a beggar, who said her child was freezing and she wanted money to buy one. I did not do it because I’m a particularly good person, I merely thought that this would be a good excuse to buy a new duvet since I wanted a big two-person duvet instead. However, I do hope that she got some use of the duvet. Since I sincerely cared about her family’s wellbeing, and not only about getting rid of my duvet, I did buy her some groceries as well.

I am going to sound harsh here but it’s the truth: Don’t ever think that you are doing the world a favour when you donate bad quality clothes to secondhand shops. Working for a secondhand fashion company (secco.fi), I have become even more aware of how much clothes of really bad quality people have bought. It is really, really difficult to recycle a H&M t-shirt with a hole in it. With good quality fabrics, you can reuse it as a textile and sew a new piece of clothing out of it. Please, dear readers, start checking for the quality of all the textiles you buy. I am writing all this to remind you, that even though recycling projects like this one with my bedsheets, really DO save a lot of natural resources: the only reason I could do it in the first place was because I had quality sheets to work with. It would have been really difficult to sew something from a bad quality fabric.

Eating sustainably is not too complicated

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Eating sustainably can be delicious, beautiful and simple. Last week me and my friend Malin cooked a modified version of this Baked Aubergine with beluga lentils recipe from Green Kitchen Stories. I’m not too fond of brussel sprouts so I left those out from the recipe and added pepper and field beans instead.

It’s a myth that it is difficult to know how to eat more sustainably. Yes, if you look at minor details like knowing whether a Spanish tomato or a Finnish greenhouse-grown tomato in February is better, then I understand it might feel a bit complicated. The thing is: that’s splitting hairs. If you have time, by all means, it’s good to do research, but these choices aren’t the most important ones. If you follow these simple rules, the impact you food has on our environment is already much better!

  1. Avoid all red meat
  2. Eat less dairy products
  3. Eat less rice & less imported quinoa
  4. Eat less avocado
  5. Eat mostly local and seasonal vegetables and grains

These are very simple rules, no one needs to study a lot to make a huge impact on the environment globally by choosing not to eat certain kinds of food. Also, remember that the option with less plastic packaging is always better! For vegetables and fruit, you can get a reusable bag like this one. In the end, it does not matter if people occasionally buy the “wrong kind of tomato” as long as we look at the big picture and at the foods that really have a big impact. I managed to follow the “Vegan January” challenge and ate (mostly) vegan for a full month and only slipped twice! It actually wasn’t too difficult. So if eating vegan isn’t very difficult, then avoiding those listed things at least 6 out of 7 days a week shouldn’t be impossible for anyone. Personally, now that my one month challenge is over, I do still eat small amounts of cheese as well as avocado and rice. But only on special occasions when I’m at a restaurant or someone else treats me to food ,which is rarely more than once or twice a month.

A short reminder to why everyone should avoid the listed things…The meat industry pollutes a lot. The Baltic sea, many lakes and rivers in several countries are in such bad condition because of the meat industry. Cows consume a lot of natural resources, so cut down on your consumption of cheese, yoghurt and milk. Get oat, coconut or soy alternatives instead. Cows also produce methane. Rice is extremely water intensive and fresh water is scarce in many places, additionally rice cultivation produces methane which is even worse for the climate than CO2. Save the sushi for special occasions! Avocado plantations often lead to deforestation and acute drought. The avocado requires a lot of water, and when that water is taken from lakes and rivers nearby, they dry out. Avocados also rot really easily. 54,000 tonnes of avocado and other stone fruits are thrown away every year in the UK!! The less we buy, the less will in the end be imported and thrown away. 54 000 tonnes!!

What to eat then? Green Kitchen stories really has amazing vegetarian recipes. Vegetables grown in your own country get amazing tastes with these recipes. Just stay away from the recipes containing too much cheese, avocado or rice or replace those ingredients with something else. There are environmentally “unfriendly” foods such as quinoa, that are grown organically in Europe too so you don’t need to stop eating it, just choose the right kind.

ps. between November and February/Mars, the Spanish tomato is actually more environmentally friendly, during the rest of the year, buy the locally grown version. In northern Europe: Canned tomatoes are the most sustainable during the winter! But don’t worry about that too much if it feels too complicated 🙂

Bon appetit!

xo, Felicia

Making less waste: a first step

Many of us feel quite bad about the amount of waste we create. Whenever we see some news about it, that little thought appears in our heads: “oh we should do something about it”. But then we go back to how we used to be, because it’s easier. If you do feel you’d personally like to make a change there are two very easy first steps towards a waste-free life. Plastic bags are one of the worst pollutants of nature so…

  1. Start recycling. This will lead to a situation where you won’t be able to use the typical excuse “I need to take a plastic bag because I have to have something to put my trash in”. Everything recyclable has no need for a plastic bag: the glass, cardboard, paper all  goes well into the big recycling bins by pouring them out of a reusable bag.
  2. Stop taking plastic bags in the store, put the things in a tote bag or in your rucksack, handbag or whatever bag you usually carry around. Especially the tiny plastic bags you get in cosmetics stores are very unnecessary, just put the thing in your pocket!

Most people, that I know, have something like 20 plastic bags at home right now. When I’m visiting someones home, I always notice a huge heap of plastic bags stuffed away somewhere. If you recycle fairly alright, those plastic bags should be enough for your bin for the next 6 months. Personally, I’ve estimated that if I exclude my flatmates waste, I use about 15 plastic bags per year for trash. No one needs to keep collecting bin bags when you actually have a storage of bin bags for the next year at home so stop making that excuse, you do not need more plastic bags.

This little re-usable fruit and vegetable bag is great! My mum bought it for me this Christmas and ever since, I always carry it in my bag wherever I go. It’s washable and is the perfect substitute for the small, very harmful plastic fruit/vegetable bags that are provided in Finnish supermarkets. Buy one for yourself today and commit to stop using plastic bags!

This is the first step towards zero waste, a very easy start. My personal zero-waste start was a bit of an extreme crash course. In 2014 I randomly decided I would live for one whole month without using any disposable plastic. This is only 3 years ago, but the zero-waste  lifestyle wasn’t a “thing” back then. Believe me, people around me probably thought I was so weird when I suddenly refused to eat a cookie just because it had been in a plastic wrap!

Nowadays, I’m not that strict and I do buy some amount of things wrapped in plastic. I never take a plastic bag myself at the store, the one’s I use for waste are usually brought to me by someone visiting me, and leaving them behind. I’m a great admirer  of people like Bea Johnson and Lauren Zinger who has really helped making zero-waste a thing. It will take a long time before I’m as great as the two of them, producing only like one glass jar of waste in a couple of years! But if I could already cut my waste to only 10 bags a year in 2017, I would be really proud! Everyone has different life situations and any sort of change always requires a bit of engagement. Once you have excellent habits, like Zinger, it’s not difficult anymore. Therefore, I suggest you start with this little change that doesn’t require too much effort! Plastic bags kill animals everyday, they break down and end up poisoning seafood that we like to eat. Go for reusable bags, skip the plastic.

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Do you really believe climate change is bad? Hot weather is just nice

“Just look at how sketchy all the organisations are who insist climate change is not real and is not man-made…”, an awesome person said to me. What an excellent point! The people spreading word that man made climate change is made up are rarely established scientific communities like universities. They’re more likely some organisation founded two years ago and sponsored by Shell or BP…If you’re not really interested in learning about all the sciency stuff to convince you about climate change: just take a brief look at these sketchy organisations, that should tell you that man made climate change is probably real. And that unfortunately means that partly, you and I are responsible for it.

I’ve been living with the assumption that man-made climate change “might exist”, until I was about 15, “probably exists” until like 19 and “shiit, we´re quite fucked” since that until now that I’m 22. I mean we are so fucked already, oh my god. But it’s not too late. At least not if people would stop saying hot weather is just nice. Hot weather is awesome as long as it doesn’t kill plants and animals, make storms, rise sea levels, triggers famine, disrupt local weathers so that some places become even colder and kills coral reefs. I want to dive and snorkel, damn it! Hot weather and climate change are two quite different things.

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I love hot weather. A hot climate is quite a different. That’s just a huge risk.

It wasn’t until that “shit, we´re fucked” notion kicked into my head that I decided to try to do something about it. So what did I do? My electricity at home is solar and wind only. I want the energy companies to build more solar and wind, so I increase demand for them. Building more waterpower in Finland would destroy beautiful nature and fish habitats. If I had a house, and not a flat, I’d probably produce my own energy with solar, wind and heat pumpswhich probably is the most efficient way of heating.

Man made climate change has been a known phenomenon since the 1970s but big (evil) fossil fuels companies who were among the first to discover the effect decided not to tell the public (I wonder why…).I’m waking up every  morning to the news of different Environmental News pages on Facebook and Twitter which all are written on the assumption that human made climate change is happening. That assumption can be backed up by 97% of scientists. The science hasn’t been this certain and widely known as it is now for a large part of many people’s lives, it’s a quite new thing for many. But even grandparents habits can be changed! My recently retired grandmother just told me that she has become a fantastic recycler! So proud!!

The things you need to change to already start making a difference are really easy and small. You don’t need to do much research or invest huge amounts of time in this if you start following these few tips.

5 things that you personally can do to make us less fucked:

1. Cut down on meat consumption. If you really love beef, just save it for birthdays and make it special. Check this out for yummy veggie recipes.

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2. LED LED LED lightbulbs! Never buy any other type of lightbulbs because compared to LED everything else is energy draining rubbish. This is so easy to do.

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3. Cycles, hybrid cars and trains. Cycling above all ♥︎. If you’re rich enough go for a hybrid car and skip the diesel SUV! There are so many cool hybrids! My personal flying vs train rule: as long as it takes less than 12h (a.k.a one night train) I’ll chose trains over flying. Would a similar rule work in your schedule perhaps? Give the idea a though at least.Cars etc

4. Wind and solar electricity! Most energy providers can sell you wind and solar electricity. In Helsinki: Helen, Fortum etc. My energy bill went from ca 12 euro per month to about 13 euro per month. I’m sure you have 1 euro to spare. Give your energy provider a call.

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5. Recycle metal, plastic, glass, paper, cardboard and bio waste. This saves quite much energy and the biowaste becomes biofuels. If you don’t have these bins close and you don’t own a car the glass and metal can mostly be easily transported on a bike or a bus. Try asking your housing company if they could provide recycling bins.

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Sounds pretty simple, right? So give it a go, and try convincing your parents and grandparents to give it a go too! This is a really good starting kit to do your bit to make us less fucked and you can change most of those things already today.

There is of course so many other things you can do, but I think, that if you do these few things you are already doing something about the problem.

Thinking long term

Mind Tomorrow is a blog about sustainability in everyday. It’s written by me, Felicia. I work hard to keep my carbon footprint low but often fail due to succumbing to the spoiled millennial lifestyle that includes too much travel. I should warn you already, I am very good at preaching sustainability and somewhat okay at practising it (sometimes). Despite failing sometimes, I really believes in the power of individual choices.  Your small deeds and choices matter, let’s do this together!

“If you ever think you are too small to make a change, try sleeping with a mosquito in your bedroom”.

The blog is updated once a week, usually on Sundays with some new thoughts and ideas on how other spoiled millennials can make the world a bit of a better place. To just mind tomorrow a bit more, instead of just the instant gratification here and now. In best cases, you can get both. Like  when travelling by train instead of flying, being an active citizen during political climate summits and finding the best reusable straws.

Want to know more about me? Obviously, I’m way more than a sustainable lifestyle. I am born and bred in Helsinki, but I currently live in London. Having your family and your loved ones over 1000 km away is very bad for your carbon footprint, I do not recommend it for anyone trying to live sustainably. But here I am, grateful to have two home cities! Other things I enjoy are summers at the sea, I like singing and playing the piano, I’m a food gourmand and take every chance to  try new cocktails. I graduated with two degrees, in journalism and environmental science as well as another one in Economics and I am just about to start my new master’s programme in Sustainable Business. However, this blog is not about these things. I’m not going to get personal, other than when it relates just to sustainability.  This blog is about how I try to find more ways to live a sustainable life. I don’t always manage to practice what I preach but I do my best.

It’s about finding a balance between my own pleasure and well-being right here and right now, and the well-being of other humans and all living creatures in the future. It’s about seeing the consequences of my actions globally, minimizing the harming of other people.I want to see the big picture and make that picture look nicer. It might not always be the simplest or cheapest option, but I strongly believe that in the long term it’s going to make the world a better place.

I hope I can inspire you to do the same, remember that there are several ways to a more sustainable lifestyle! I will keep learning and exploring while writing this blog.

Welcome to follow my blog!

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