Baby Steps Toward Sustainability© Soneva Fushi, Maldives

Baby Steps Toward Sustainability

by Prof. Dr. Anabel Ternès - Social entrepreneur, author, speaker and managing director

The other day I was helping a friend move to his new home. Once I arrived in the empty apartment, I realized that he still had a lot of work ahead of him. He would need kitchenware, towels, bedsheets, toiletries, cleaning supplies and of course furniture.

This got me thinking about possible sustainable alternatives. Why not buy recycled or fair trade produce? Maybe there is a place to get sustainable and locally produced furniture. Sure, there must be better alternatives to IKEA or Poco here in Berlin! After doing some research, I was surprised to find a great variety of suppliers and online platforms that offer sustainable products.

I dived into my research and checked how much it costs and whether the products were made in Germany. As it turns out, Berlin has a lot to offer. Apart from the usual organic supermarkets and second-hand shops, there are a lot of other shops that offer eco-friendly furniture, clothing and many more.

One of the online platforms I found was the “Avocado Store”. They offer a diverse range of products, from recycled kitchen items to organic-vegan food. Not all products are made in Germany but they do offer products that are. Other interesting stores, based in Berlin are the “Lili Green Shop” and “Lebensfluss”, who also offer similar products along with reduced CO2 furniture. There are quite a few shops that sell fair trade, ecologically produced, handmade, recycled and donated clothes, for example “Wertvoll” and “Ken Panda”.

I became really excited about the idea that I can be more sustainable and help society and the environment at the same time by supporting eco-friendly and local products. However, once I saw the prices my excitement dropped. The prices are above average in a lot of cases and sometimes even unaffordable for most.

How can I support sustainability if I cannot afford it? Well the answer is simple: Baby steps. The trick is to slowly but surely move towards sustainability.

First, only concentrate on sustainable products you need and can afford; e.g. drop by the local market to by a few apples. Even a small contribution can have huge effects if everyone chips in. It will support the businesses that strive to be eco-friendly and help them grow.

We all have a lot more power than we may think, when buying a product. Not only will this support sustainable producers but it would cause other producers to act accordingly.

An example for this is H&M.

In April this year, their aim was to collect 1,000 tons of unwanted clothes for the world recycle week. In the meantime, they are selling H&M Conscious clothes which includes “being ethical”, “being climate smart” and “reducing, reusing, recycling” concepts among other factors.

Although a lot may be skeptical, if this initiative is more than just employer branding, it is a move towards the right direction. Many local stores in Berlin are starting to offer more sustainable options. Many chocolate stores and ice cream shops, for example, have already started to offer products made with fair trade, organic and local ingredients.

Thus, more and more affordable and sustainable products will be made available. These baby steps will help the green movement grow - helping our society and our environment.

 

published: 05/27/2016

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