small and significant

You may be a small part of this world, but you are not insignificant!

Things to consider doing if you want to reduce your ecological footprint

This is going to be a long one, but I wanted to have all of my ideas on this in one place. I am probably going to keep adding to the post as I get new ideas. Many who have already spent some time thinking about how they can make their lifestyle more environmentally sustainable might already know about some, perhaps all of the following points but maybe it will still be helpful to you to see all of them in one list. Perhaps it will remind you of the importance of being very aware of what you consume and of cutting back on the things that negatively affect the environment and maybe even you by weighing you down unnecessarily. At least, that’s what I hope this blog post will be able to do for you and I would be delighted if you took the time to read it and maybe even shared some of your own ideas with me in a comment :).

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer: if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change. I’m going to make a change for once in my life.”

Michael Jackson

The 5 R’s:

  • REDUCE: Simplify your lifestyle by reducing the amount of things you buy, consume and throw away.
  • REFUSE: Refuse the things that you realise are unsustainable and unnecessary in your life. To do this, you have to become very aware of the products you consume and the actions you take, inform yourself about their impact, start thinking about what you really need and then act on what you have realised during this process.
  • REUSE: Realise the value of all the items around you and of the materials they were made from. Don’t just throw stuff away. Think about how you could reuse things or give them away for others to use and enjoy. Try to find a second hand option when you want to buy something like clothes, books, furniture etc. and also try to avoid buying products that come in packaging which is made to only be used once and thus cannot easily be reused.
  • RECYCLE: Ideally, after the first three steps, there should not be a lot that you have to recycle. Make sure that you seperate and clean the items properly in order to facilitate the recycling process. Again, try to think about the material and work it took to make the different items. It will result in you becoming more mindful and consuming more responsibly.
  • ROT: Start composting. If you don’t have the outdoor space to start a big compost heap, consider getting or making a wormery yourself. I even recently heard of this product with which you can turn your food waste into cooking gas!

Aaand… some more 🙂

  • Use Ecosia (a search engine that plants trees with the money it makes)
  • Avoid flying and driving
  • Walking/ cycling/ public transport/ car-sharing
  • Go on vacation closer to home
  • Support local businesses (also when on vacation!)
  • Wwoof (world-wide opportunities on organic farms)/ workaway: great cheap & sustainable option for a gap year or active vacation -> Get food & accomodation for free in exchange for some hours of work and really immerse yourself in the culture by living with locals
  • Eat less or no meat/ animal products (meat-free days/ vegetarian/ vegan) and make sure those you do eat come from sources which care about the animals and the environment
  • Buy more locally sourced, unprocessed, unpackaged food: go to weekly farmers’ markets and bring your reusable bags and containers! (maybe you also have a bulk store near you?)
  • Avoid food waste (difference between best-before and use-by dates, observe how much you need in a week and plan your grocery shops accordingly, follow the recommendations on storage, make sure you can see everything in your fridge well so that nothing goes bad because you forgot about it)
  • Avoid single-use and non-compostable packaging and other products (there are biodegradable alternatives to plastic now!, my chocolate is packaged in it:) ); for this one you have to continually pay a lot of attention in order to notice where the stuff that you immediately throw away after using it once enters your life (e.g. packaging of food/ drinks you get when you’re out with friends, paper mail & advertisements, plastic water bottles, office supplies…); then you can start working on eliminating them/ finding alternatives
  • Bring a reusable water-bottle and lunch-box with food you made at home in order to avoid buying water and processed food packaged in plastic
  • Don’t leave any trash you maybe still generate lying around outside & try to pick up some of what other people leave behind (maybe there are even clean-up projects near you that you could participate in?)
  • Volunteer for/donate to a reliable environmental organisation
  • Maybe try and grow some of your own food (or ask at a local farm if you could perhaps spend a day or even more working with them to experience what it takes to grow good organic food; a two week internship I did at an organic farm got me really interested in sustainable food production!)
  • Sustainable electronics: This is quite difficult as far as I know, but you could always try to find recycled options and in the case of buying a new phone, I have heard that the company Fairphone is doing a good job. The fairphone 3 is quite expensive (450 euros), but this is because the company really makes an effort in terms of responsible material sourcing and good working conditions. Plus, it is a completely modular phone and they offer spare parts, which means that it should last you much longer than other phones.
  • Avoid wasting water: short showers instead of long ones or baths, not leaving the water running when it is not needed, washing clothes & dishes with full loads or, even better, filling the sink, closing the tap, and washing them by hand (the easier the more you refused and reduced before!), water-saving equipments (toilets, dishwashers, shower heads…), drinking tap water (if it’s safe where you live!), water harvesting, grey-water treatment, composting toilets, not contaminating water with chemicals from hygiene and cleaning products…
  • Use more natural hygiene and cleaning products: this one is closely connected to the last one. You don’t want to harm the environment or your body by using products full of chemicals on yourself or on the items in your home. The first step here is of course to cut back on the amount of products you use and to then find more sustainable options for those that you do need. There are loads of options for natural hygiene and cleaning products out there, so it should not be a problem to find the right ones for you! (examples: bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste tabs in compostable packaging, package-free natural soaps, coconut oil)
  • Reusable period products: menstrual cups, washable period-proof underwear, washable pads…
  • Use reusable cloths or sponges for cleaning instead of kitchen paper or disposable plastic sponges
  • Consider switching from tissues to washable cotton handkerchiefs
  • Wrap food in reusable beeswax wraps instead of in plastic or aluminium foil
  • If you have a dog: consider getting biodegradable dog poo bags
  • Try to find a brand that offers toilet paper made from recycled materials or from bamboo (it would of course be best if you found it in a store near you instead of having to order it on the internet)
  • Make your garden/ balkony a home for many different plants & animals: build insect houses, make your collection of plants as diverse as possible and choose those that are very useful for insects, let everything grow a bit more freely so that your green space not only looks nice but can also serve as a place of refuge and as a home for small animals
  • Avoid wasting energy: Switch off/ unplug devices and lights when you don’t need them, buy energy-saving appliances when the old ones stop working, fill any gaps you find under skirting boards or at windows and doors, don’t leave the fridge door open, defrost, don’t put hot food in the fridge, let your clothes & hair air dry, cover pots and pans with a lid when cooking, take more cold showers (also good for your health! 🙂 ), don’t put too much water in the kettle, try to think more about warming your body (e.g. with a blanket) than warming up the entire house when you feel it’s a little cold
  • If you want to build a new home or it is possible for you to do some work on your current one, try to use natural and/or reclaimed materials and to insulate the building well (maybe you would like to inform yourself a bit about passive houses)
  • If it’s possible to you, switch to renewable energy sources (but inform yourself well about how reliable the different providers are!)
  • Switch to a bank that explicitly doesn’t invest in unsustainable projects/companies
  • Make notebooks from paper that is still blank on the back (simple tutorial)
  • Share with others: don’t just think of your stuff as YOUR stuff, tell others that you are open to sharing (e.g. clothing, books, household utensils…) and you will see what a positive effect this can have!
  • Inspire others!!: Encourage more sustainable living in your family, friend group, at school, in the workplace, on social media…This way, the changes each of us make individually add up and turn into something that can truly change the world.

Conclusion

To put it in a nutshell, it is all about becoming aware of how much and what you consume, carefully thinking about which of these things you need in life and which ones you do not and then aligning your actions with your beliefs. This means reducing the amount you consume and finding more sustainable options for the things you still want to have (best case: borrowed/second hand/local/organic/unpackaged). And, most importantly, share your ideas and plans concerning a more sustainable lifestyle with others in order to inspire them, to have a bigger impact and to have more fun on your journey by taking it with others!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post! Please do not hesitate if you would like to leave a comment to ask a question, start a discussion or add something to the list. I hope that I was able to help and inspire you with this post. It can often feel like you’re not doing enough, no matter how much of an effort you make, but I hope that this list was able to encourage you to do what you can, to be proud of that and to share it with others. It might not seem like it, but you have all the potential to change the world. Because remember: You may be a small part of this world, but you are not insignificant!

Things to consider doing if you want to become healthier and happier

I am aware most, if not all, of these probably won’t be news to you, but perhaps this list can still serve as a motivation and a little reminder to be kind to yourself and make the most of life 🙂 I also know that we are all different and have different dreams, which is why I tried to connect this as little as possible to my own and only collected those points that I think most people would confirm increase their health and happiness.

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived

‘I Lived’ by OneRepublic
  • drink enough water
  • eat mostly whole foods & a good variety of them (if you have really bad cravings for unhealthy, processed foods often, there are websites that give you helpful tips on which healthy foods can satisfy different cravings, e.g. fresh orange juice can satisfy your craving for chocolate)
  • try listening to your body when it comes to when, how much, and what to eat -> intuitive eating (notice at what times during the day you are actually hungry and for what in contrast to when/what you would normally eat out of habit)
  • find a form of physical exercise that you enjoy (e.g. walking, dancing, swimming, yoga) and do it daily
  • stretch/massage/relax your muscles, especially after exercising or long stretches of time spent in the same position
  • go outside and get some fresh air & sun
  • find a form of artistic expression that you enjoy and practice it in your free time (e.g. writing, making music, dancing, drawing, acting)
  • find a form of expressing self-love that resonates with you (meditation, yoga, saying words of affirmation out loud to yourself)
  • spend quality time with friends & family (talking, being active/ creative, ideally away from technology)
  • spend less time on social media/ the internet/ electronic devices; use them only for content you feel actually interests you & adds value to your life instead of surfing mindlessly (try going without social media/ your phone for a while to find out what this means for you)
  • spend time by yourself without distractions, just thinking about the important questions (Where am I at right now? Who do I want to be? What do I want to do with my life? What do I have to do to get there?)
  • get rid of any posessions/midsets/habits/people that you might realise are holding you back from fulfilling your dreams -> minimalism in all aspects of life (having only what is important and adds value)
  • come up with some powerful thoughts/phrases that make you feel confident and motivated to take the necessary steps to become the best version of yourself (words of affirmation & words of motivation)
  • take some moments of stillness throughout the day to repeat these phrases to yourself so that you are constantly reminded of your goal and of the fact that you are worthy of it as well as able to achieve it
  • find a cause that is important to you (e.g. protection of the environment, animal rights, womens’ rights…) & find out how you can contribute to it (volunteering, lifestyle changes, activism, spreading awareness, donating)
  • try to be more present, really take in the experiences you are having in each moment -> take things more slowly, try not to rush/multi-task all the time (this will help you to better recognise and take valuable opportunities when they arise & will make you more aware of and thankful for the good things in your life)
  • always search for ways in which you can be kind to others (smile, avoid talking badly about people, make honest compliments, offer your help, ask people about how they are feeling and if there’s anything you could do to improve their day…)
  • become active now & take small steps everyday; don’t procrastinate on fulfilling your dreams!

Conclusion

In conclusion, take care of your physical health by improving your eating and exercising habits and of your mental health by being kind to yourself and others, spending time on the things you enjoy, practising mindfulness, and working on your ultimate goals. Become active now and take little steps everyday, they will add up to something great!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post! I hope it was able to inspire and motivate you to start taking small steps towards transforming your life for the better. Don’t let yourself be discouraged by all the crazy things going on around you and perhaps sometimes also in your mind during these confusing times in this hectic world. Try to focus on what’s important to you and trust that you are capable of achieving your dreams.

Peace (poem)

Oh, bring back the peace
That was once found in silence,
Bring back the ease
With which a mind became still,
Shut out confusion, worry, and pain
And heal this soul
That the world has made ill.


© Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com, 2019. 
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Broken dreams (poem)

Who do you think about 
In those silent moments?
For me, it's you,
But you'll never know,
Never know the joy
Or know the pain
That the sight of you
Shoots through my veins.

I imagined the love
That could one day exist
Between one broken girl
And you,
Oh, what bliss!
But I've always been a dreamer
It's nothing new to me
I imagine, I dream,
Watch my life breaking at the seams. 


© Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com, 2019. 
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Calling (poem)

My joy and peace
My sorrow and pain
My life I want to share
With someone
Who's there
With someone who listens
Someone who cares.
My all I want to give
To the mind and body of another
For us to connect
In that most magical manner.

I wonder if I'll ever know it
That love that all desire
I wonder if it does exist
That puzzle piece
With which I'd fit.

They all can talk
And try to teach me
Hold me tight
And try to reach me
But none of them seem
To truly get me.
They hold on to the person 
That I used to be
While losing the one
I am becoming, clearly.

So when I close my eyes 
I see, I feel
I hear the words that someone speaks
And know that they are just for me.
And when I awaken
From this most beautiful of dreams
I search the night sky
For a sign of what seems
To be another soul
Calling for me.


© Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com, 2019. 
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Free (poem)

Wind and rain,
Come and take me home.
Carry me away
And into the storm.
Because with wind in my hair,
Rain on my skin,
Lungs full of fresh air,
I can finally see
What it means
To be free.


© Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com, 2019. 
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Prison (poem)

I see myself imprisoned,
I see myself in chains
While all this sadness, anger, pain
Is running through my veins.

I blame it on home, I blame it on school,
I blame it all on society
So I can say 'It's not my fault:
They're quenching individuality.'

But now I see,
That isn't true.
In the end it's always me,
Who is in control.

Living in this society,
With its rules and regulations,
Can often make you feel unfree.

And it will always be hard
To pluck up the courage
And follow your spark.

But it the end,
What it's all about,
Is that you find the courage 
To turn what you know around
And open your mind
To the freedom you have
To get rid of what's a plight
And choose what feels right.


© Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com, 2019. 
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Mirrors (poem)

If only mirrors could show me 
Who I truly am inside,
If they could be the doors
Into my perfect, dream-world life,
I could just be myself 
And would never have to hide.

I would know where to go,
What path to take,
I would be sure 'bout what I do 
From the moment that I wake.

No chains could tie me down,
No expectations hold me back.
I would just go into the world
And be sure to make a change.

If only I wasn't so unsure,
If only there wasn't all this fear,
If it weren't for the pressure,
It'd be so much easier.

But I know: 
It wouldn't be my life
If it was easy
And it wouldn't be me
Without my share of misery.


© Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com, 2019. 
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Imperfect (poem)

In moments when you think about the world
And say:
With all this anger, pain and haste,
How could I ever be happy living in this place?
Don't let the thought that the world will never be perfect
Make you think that life isn't worth it.
See the potential that lies in everything and everyone
And the power you have to change what is going wrong.
Do what you can
And let hope
And the wish to make the world a better place
Give you the strength to take on this challenge with grace
Be thankful for the beautiful sides of life,
For the ability to stand up for what matters
And for the people who help you thrive
You are not alone
With all the others who are already on your side
And the ones to whom you will become a guide
Potential can be turned into reality
And even when you come to the end of your little piece of infinity
What mattered to you will live on in the hearts of others
And that way, you'll do wonders


© Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com, 2019. 
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My little flame (poem)

I want to light a flame inside of me
To bring joy to all who know me
To guide them through the hardest times
And grow from happy memories

I want to light a flame inside of me
To inspire all who know me
To give kindness, patience, open arms
And never judge or harm

But how can my little flame survive
in the midst of this frightening storm
When thrashing waves of ice cold water
Threaten to quench it and make cold what was warm?

When all this darkness comes to consume me
I open my eyes and see it clearly:
My little flame is not the only one
Others are always there to come
To give me hope, to give me love
And rekindle my flame when it has almost given up.

My little flame is not enough
To fix all that's broken
And make smooth all that's rough
But my little flame is not alone
And with our big, warm fire of love
The storm is only half as tough
And my flame will finally feel like it is doing enough.


© Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com, 2019. 
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Do I still belong to you? (poem)

White waves crash onto water, rock and sand
Cold water splashes my legs, face and hand
You push me away
You pull me in
Wash my feet
And bury them in
You lie there, amazingly still, 
Carry me with delightful ease,
Then disturb the peace
And break into storm,
threatening to do me harm.
But as I open my eyes,
Terrible sights make me realise:
I am the one doing you harm.

Say, do I still belong to you?
Or am i just a creature without a home
All alone?
I feel that I have become a stranger,
Always putting you in danger
Say, do you feel that, too?
It seems like time has seperated you and me
Will you and me ever again become 'we'?

You glow in that delightful green
Everything is still and serene
I look up and see the leaves, far and near,
Hear the birds sing and walk on without fear
You protect and enchant me
I feel so at peace, so at ease
As if I was not alone, at home
But then I see, how could you ever love me?
I cause you harm, just by existing
Can't live without destruction
Or the goal of perfection
Is there more to you I am not allowed to see
Because I am human and will never ever be
A creature of the woods, able to simply be good?

Say, do I still belong to you?
Or am I just a creature without a home
All alone?
I feel that I have become a stranger
always putting you in danger
Say, do you feel that, too?
It seems like time has seperated you and me
Will you and me ever again become 'we'?

Please, let me make it right
Don't let me die, unfulfilled
With all this guilt
Knowing that I was just a human fool to you
And never had a clue
Of the secrets you are hiding,
the wonders I could have been finding
I want us to find our way back to you,
To choose harmony
Over doing harm for money


© Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com, 2019. 
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ricarda Haeseler and smallandsignificant.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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