A few weeks ago we returned from the second meeting of the Mommas Coffee project, which this time was held in a beautiful mountain town in the Czech Republic. As always we return full of energy and happy to have enjoyed the company of so many extraordinary women and mothers. This time, we decided to devote time to collectively reflect on a very important challenge for humanity in general and for mothers in particular, such as environmental protection and climate change mitigation. We not only focus on the great measures, at the global political level, that should be taken to meet this challenge, but particularly on what we can do within each of our families to be part of the solution. We end up with a very large list of large and small initiatives, many of which are already implemented in the families of our participants. We would like to share them in order to more families to join this challenge.
If we are in such an important phase for a family as it is to build their house, we should consider design measures that can help us reduce our resources consumption. Of course, some of these measures may have significant additional costs, but others only require some prior planning and all of them will have important effects on our health, our economic savings and our impact on the planet. The possibilities of building a more efficient home range from passive houses, to simpler measures that can help them be more sustainable such as efficient insulation, adequate ventilation without the need for heat loss (Canadian wells), renewable energy integration, deposit construction for rainwater, etc.
The opportunities to reduce water consumption in our home are many. From the well known as limiting the shower time or turning off the tap while we brush, to more innovative ones like selecting the plants in the garden based on your water demand. For example, the grass normally requires a lot of water to keep in good condition all year round, but we can use varieties more resistant to drought or opt for other kind of vegetation for these areas. We can also implement drip irrigation for our garden/orchard, or purify gray water for this purpose. On the other hand it is also important to acquire appliances such as dishwashers and clothes washers that are efficient in water use.
Transport and energy consumption:
We must promote the use of public transport whenever the conditions of accessibility of our locality allow it, as well as promote the displacement on foot and the use of bicycles. We can also opt for electric vehicles if possible and rely on the community to reduce mobility expenses, for example making trips in conjunction with neighbors etc. Keeping the lights off when not in use is essential for energy savings, but we can also promote the use of cleaner energy sources for our heating systems and purchase low power appliances.
With regard to food we have many options to reduce waste production and resource consumption. The range is very wide and we can choose from vegetarianism to simply reduce the purchase of industrially produced meat (which requires large amounts of water). In any case it is always better to opt for local products with less transport costs and/or grow or raise part of our food. Some very simple gestures such as producing our yogurts at home would greatly reduce the production of plastics. All these measures, in addition to reducing our impact on the environment, would also improve our health and the quality of our diet.
At home we can also work on waste reduction. For example, using fabric bags for weighing fruits and vegetables in the supermarket, using glass bottles and lunch boxes, making bazaars or exchanging clothes, as well as reusing materials from it to make new things. Another important measure, which would also improve our health, is to reduce the use of chemicals in personal and household cleaning, we can make our own products such as soap, softener, shampoo, toothpaste etc. The use of cloth or biodegradable diapers would also save large amounts of slow degradation waste annually. The possibilities of recycling and reusing paper and cardboard is almost endless. Finally, in addition to reducing the production of waste, it is important that they are properly separated and disposed of in order to increase their recycling possibilities. In this sense, the separation and use of organic matter in home for the production of compost is an extremely useful action.
The measures we present in this article are not intended to be exhaustive and obviously each family must opt for one or other depending on their particular possibilities and circumstances. However, we think that all together as a global society we must take steps forward in the protection and conservation of the environment, mainly for the welfare of our children. This is why we believe that one of the most important recommendations to change the humanity attitude toward the planet is to provide real entertainment for children in the nature, that allows them to know and value her. It will be our example plus the education we can offer our children that can make future humanity have a more respectful attitude towards our environment.
Authors: Claudia Lorena Quan Rodas, Sonia Vázquez