Simple tips for leading a quality and low-carbon life

Published in Shanghai Daily, March 9

I learned with great interest that shopping in secondhand stores like Déjà Vu for books, clothes and electronic devices at affordable prices has been a new trend in Shanghai (“The ‘virtuous circle:’ Good stuff is worth buying twice,” March 2, Shanghai Daily).

Unlike some existing secondhand stores that predominantly deal in overpriced vintage or antique items, the new fad is nothing short of a paradigm shift that taps into China’s resolve to pursue sustainable development, as indicated by the country’s pledges to slash carbon emissions by 65 percent by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

As we know, low-carbon life essentially refers to a lifestyle that produces less greenhouse gas emissions than a modern way of urban living.

Greenhouse gases are those that “trap” the heat in the atmosphere, resulting in rising global temperatures, and increasing the risk of natural disasters. Scientists believe if we do not cut drastically the emissions, our very survival would be threatened.

A low-carbon life does not necessarily has to be achieved at the expense of the quality of life. On the contrary, a sustainable lifestyle is often more healthy. If you have doubts about this, consider the following options for a greener life.

• Reduce the use of private car and taxi. Instead, travel on foot or by public transportation. Exercises like walking and running can strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases.

• Buy local to save the energy needed in long-distance trade. An added inducement is that buying local will also increase local employment rate and create a positive social environment.

• Use household appliances for as long as possible, and repair them before replacing them. Learning to repair appliances by yourself will save money, enrich your leisure life, and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. If these appliances have outlived their usefulness, recycle them properly to minimize their environment impact.

• Switch to LED lights and refrigerators with energy-saving labels. Install devices in your residential and office building that run on renewable energy.

• Reuse household waste creatively. For instance, fresh orange peels, after being dried in the sun or air, can be used for dehumidification purpose. They can also be used in cooking soup or brewing herbal teas, which can fortify your stomachs and lungs.

• Spare parts from broken furniture, such as screws, wooden panels or even glasses can be reused to make stools, kid’s toy blocks, coffee table cover, or wheeled carts.

• Simplify your wardrobe and buy new clothes only if you have to. You can buy or swap second-hand clothes on social media platforms, websites or stores. Various natural stain removers, such as lemon juice, salt and baking soda, can help remove the stains from clothes.

• Sorting waste properly can also contribute to sustainable life. Put different waste into the right recycle bins. The glue in the plastic-paper mix wrappings can usually be removed after being soaked in water for a while. Clean the glassware and plastics before disposing. Waste sorting and disposal afford opportunity for relaxation and learning.

• When dining out, order the right amount to reduce food waste, which can pollute water and soil. Also be reminded that there are still hunger and poverty. Bring your own meal boxes, cups or reusable straws when dining out.

• Bring your own reusable bags when shopping. Buy food you can eat up before the expiry date, which is also good for weight management. Purchase the food with minimal packaging.

• Eat less meat and seafood, in favor of more vegetables and fruits. Other than dairy milk, consider plant-based milk, such as soybean milk, almond milk and coconut milk.

• Reconsider the time-honored tradition of wearing new dress and general cleaning-up in anticipation of some traditional festivals. Exchanging over-wrapped gifts during Christmas can also lead to significant increase in consumption, wastes and carbon emission. These tips, taken seriously, might lead to a low-carbon, sustainable life.

Li Wei is an assistant professor of public policy and administration at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her current research and teaching interest is regulatory, policy and management innovation for social and environmental sustainability. The views are her own.Source: SHINE   Editor: Wan Lixin

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