While sitting back on one of the comfortable seats of Eurocity 155 train that connects Salzburg with Munich, I started browsing a women’s magazine. It was Sunday evening. Behind us was a fabulous week-end shared with extended family. The children were happy to have seen grandma and great-grandma (who repeatedly beat me at Rummy) and now we were on our way back home.
The magazine at first glance seemed to be nothing special. One of those dealing with fashion, diets, relationships, and cooking recipes. One of those you quickly pick up on a train station when there’s only five minutes left till the departure of your train. A magazine merely purchased for relaxation and possibly some light entertainment.
However this time I was really surprised. Among the 15 articles at least 5 were interesting. One that especially caught my attention was titled: “How green was your day?”
“Hmm, what is this about”, I thought as I started reading. It stated that in order to keep Mother Earth alive – long term, every human was allowed to produce a CO2 emission of 6.8 kg per day. But how can we fully comprehend the implications just by hearing this number? At first, I could not grasp the big picture. The article gave a few explanations: When you drive in your VW Golf for 64 km, you have used up your daily healthy quota; equally if you use 45 diapers or buy 37 roses from Kenya, or if you eat 1.8 kg of milk chocolate (God beware!). The same rule apply if you buy a pair of jeans and toss them after only 5 days.
The article gave additional examples that would go a long way in helping us to understand whether we were within our limits or not. It divided fundamental activities of our lives into four categories:
1. At Home
3. Eating and Drinking
4. Moving Around
Each activity was assigned a certain amount of points. If we remained below 100 points per day, it claimed, we were good consumers; we didn’t exceed the 6.8 kg of CO2 emission.
1. At Home: No surprise, heating and dryers consumed most energy. So we should switch off everything we don’t need and consider drying our laundry in the sun (weather permitting).
2. Shopping: The longer we use the items we purchase the better. We should try to avoid wasteful transactions. Imported goods produce more pollution than locally produced ones (although they might be cheaper).
3. Eating and Drinking: The shorter the distance from the place of production/ harvest to the store the better. The less processed food the better. Wait a minute; I have heard that before… Right! I have heard that already in connection with healthy nutrition: Seasonal fruit and veggies are best for the body, as well as freshly cooked food.
4. Moving Around: I’m sure you’ve guessed already that walking or riding a bike causes less pollution (although they are more energy consuming for ourselves; on the bright side fitness is anyway needed, isn’t it?) Riding a motorcycle or going by train does not raise our quota excessively; the same can not be said for flying or driving luxurious vehicles.
The author of the article claimed: “You might notice that on the days you produce less CO2 emission you feel more relaxed!”
Well, I will watch that for myself and see if it is true!