We are facing that time when we must lower our bills. Christmas shopping has not only taken a toll on our pockets, but also on the environment.
Natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce. As sustainable individuals, we have to aim to reduce their consumption. That way, we will reduce our environmental impact and our monthly bills.
In this article, we will give you some tips and tricks you can incorporate in your everyday life to reduce your consumption of light, water and gas.
Beware of the “stand-by”.
Many devices, when we turn them off, continue to operate in sleep mode. You can see this in the little red light on our television, microwave, stereo, etc.
The problem is that this standby consumes between 8 and 10% of the total consumption. The solution is to unplug the devices completely. You can speed up the process by using a power strip.
Switch to LED
LED bulbs consume 70-80% less than incandescent bulbs, and 30% less than fluorescent bulbs. In addition, they are more resistant and durable, light up quickly and do not emit UVA rays.
They require a small investment, but the long-term savings will make up for it.
Don’t leave the lights on
This is very obvious, but not less important. Light only the areas of your house that you need. And don’t forget to turn off the light when you leave a room. This will also increase the duration of your bulbs.
Defrost your products at room temperature
Many of us make the mistake of defrosting our food in the microwave. But we consume a lot of extra energy that way. Just remember to take the food out of the freezer a little earlier.
But do use the microwave
The microwave is much more efficient than other appliances in our kitchen. If you can avoid turning on the oven or gas, you will save on electricity (and save some precious time!)
Shower instead of bathing
Without a doubt, this is the best shift to take to save water. Replacing a bath for a shower will allow you to save about 200 liters of water a day. With the water spent when taking a bath, you could take four showers or more.
Take care of those leaks
Although a dripping tap may seem insignificant, in the long run it can be a huge expense. For example, a tap that loses a drop every two seconds costs 6,000 liters a year.
Turn off the tap
Just turning off the tap while soaping our hands, body, head or brushing our teeth could save up to 12 liters of water per minute.
Fill up your household appliances
Filling the washing machine to capacity saves about 74 liters of water per month. Whenever you can, fill the washing machine and the dishwasher to the top of their capacity. Or use half-load programs.
Don’t be tempted to use the toilet as a wastebasket. One single flushing uses between 8 and 12 liters of water.
Watering at night
Watering the plants at night instead of during the day helps the water not to evaporate quickly and avoids wasting 20 liters per minute
Don’t heat your whole house
If you live in a large house, you will notice that it is practically impossible to heat the entire house. Besides, it is a huge expense. Now in winter, heat only those rooms in which you spend most time.
Cut on the hot water
Be aware of your hot water consumption. Apply the previous water saving habits especially when it goes through the boiler. This applies especially to the bathrooms, the washing machine and the dishwasher.
Isolate the heat
Before starting the heating, make sure that there are no escape routes. That is, that all doors and windows have a good insulation system. Also, avoid ventilation when you heat your house.
Take advantage of the sun
The sun is the best source by far, so do take advantage of it! When the sunshine is strongest, raise the blinds, especially on the windows with greater luminosity. It will help maintain the room temperature so that the boiler is not running all day.
Every degree counts
The ideal temperature to maintain a comfortable environment is between 21 ºC and 23 ºC. Each degree you add more, increases energy consumption by about 7%.
We are going through quite a complicated situation. The pandemic, which seems to have no end, is having a negative effect on the mental and physical health of many people.
And that’s not surprising: with all the uncertainty, apprehension and possible unemployment making life insecure… and countless hours spent at home thinking about our problems.
But we can (and should!) turn the tables and view the situation as an opportunity. We can take this time to evaluate the way we live our lives, to reinforce the positive aspects and implement new beneficial habits to replace the ones that are bringing us down.
The psychological effects of the pandemic
The Secretary of the Spanish Society of Psychology, Iria Grande, said that anxiety and depression are psychological problems that have grown with the current social situation. Emotions such as helplessness in the face of the situation, loss of loved ones… They all impose challenges to mental health.
It is, therefore, time to take care of ourselves. And not only by maintaining social distancing and keeping safe from the virus, but also by maintaining our mental and physical health.
It is time to take advantage of those hours at home to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. Here are some things you can do to improve your life at home.
Release those endorphins
Physical exercise has many positive effects, supported by many studies. Here are some benefits of exercising:
– Releases happiness hormones
– Increases self-esteem
– Fights insomnia
– Increases productivity and concentration
– Reduces stress and anxiety
Exercising at home may seem harder. There is not as much space, you can disturb the downstairs neighbors, etc. But there are a variety of exercises you can do at home to raise your heart rate and, therefore, your mood.
Fortunately, the Internet offers a wide variety of online videos that can be useful. They are for all fitness levels, and there are many types (yoga, pilates, cardio, etc).
You are what you eat
Many of us live very busy lives. We end up eating anything and anywhere. And not always the best for health, nor what our body really needs.
We can take advantage of this extra time at home to cook for ourselves. Preparing our food at home is very beneficial compared to eating out. Among the benefits are:
– More nutritious food: at home we can reduce unnecessary sugars, salt and fats, generally present in junk food.
– Awareness and creativity: we will learn to distinguish the most beneficial foods for our health. We will also learn new recipes and incite our creativity.
– Savings: preparing food at home is much more affordable than eating out.
Drink your water
We no longer have an excuse. Now that we are at home much longer it is even more important to drink water. These are some of the benefits of increasing our water intake:
– Relieves fatigue
– Prevents headaches and migraines
– Aids digestion
– Improves the immune system
– Helps control weight
And if you are a busy person, you can have a water bottle on your table. This will make you, almost unconsciously, drink a lot more water.
But always use a reusable bottle. If you don’t have one, here at Kendani.com you may find some:
Take up that hobby again
We all have, in some corner of our house or of our life, a hobby that we have abandoned due to lack of time. We think that it is key to our happiness to have some activity that we like aside from work and our domestic obligations.
Some positive aspects of practicing a hobby are
– They distract you from the world and your worries (especially important now)
– If it is a challenge, it will help you manage frustration and overcome yourself
– Raises your self-esteem, especially if it is a manual activity such as cooking or painting
– Encourages creativity
And if you don’t have any hobbies that can be done from home, take advantage! Take the opportunity to stimulate your mind with something new. Open an attention-grabbing book, challenge your partner to a chess match, or try that grandma’s recipe you had tucked inside your cookbook for years already.
Pamper yourself (you deserve it)
Another very good way to rest and take care of yourself is through skin care. Our skin is constantly exposed to the free radicals of pollution, and to the stress of our daily lives. Therefore, taking time to pamper it can be a good act of self-love.
There are many ways to do this, and you can transform this care routine into a true experience of relaxation and disconnection.
This is where we most recommend the natural ingredients. The skin absorbs everything, so it is very important to “feed” it well.
Let it all out in a diary
Many times, and especially now, we feel that emotions take-over. Besides, being at home makes us feel like we can’t escape them.
We recommend managing these feelings through writing. It is not necessary to have a precious diary. Simply, when you feel that your emotions are piling up, you can write them down on any piece of paper or device you happen to have at hand.
This act, which seems so simple, is surprisingly effective. According to psychologists, writing down our emotions brings us: https://lamenteesmaravillosa.com/escribir-para-liberar-emociones/
– Stress reduction
– Self-knowledge and motivation
– Freeing up suppressed emotions
Do not forget about others
Do not forget about others
While we recommend taking care of ourselves, it is also very important to take care of our loved ones. Especially if they live alone.
There are many people who, being especially vulnerable to the virus, are forced to quarantine alone. It is important to keep these people (our grandparents and elders, the sick…) in mind, and call them regularly. You may, for instance, schedule a Skype meeting.
It’s okay to do nothing!
Sometimes, as a society, we become obsessed with productivity and constant activity. It is important, from time to time, to hit the pause button and live more slowly and consciously.
Don’t blame yourself for your mood, or for not having done “anything” useful during the day. Observing your feelings, breathing a few minutes, or hugging that loved one (or pet) is a great achievement just like any other.
Cuéntanos un poco sobre Awana y cómo surgió la idea
La historia de Awana Taller comenzó a gestarse en 2012 en las selvas del pacífico colombiano, un lugar muy hermoso del país pero que tiene también muchas problemáticas en cuanto a nivel de pobreza y también temas de contaminación ambiental. Por esa época yo estaba trabajando con mujeres artesanas del pacifico colombiano y tuve la oportunidad de conocer los hermosos paisajes que hay pero también una realidad muy difícil. En ese momento empezó a gestar la idea, en 2017 buscando ayudar y aportar soluciones a las comunidades artesanas decidí crear Awana Taller. Awana Taller es una empresa social que busca, por un lado, crear lazos para el reconocimiento de las tradiciones artesanales que tenemos en colombia y, por otro, mejorar las condiciones sociales y económicas de las comunidades asociadas a la empresa.
¿Con cuántas personas está trabajando el taller ahora mismo?
Trabajamos con 75 familias indígenas de la Guajira, también con comunidades del Putumayo y con Risaralda en la ciudad de Pereira.
Empezamos con 2 comunidades y creo que el el trabajo que hemos estado haciendo en Awana Taller haya empezado un voz a voz y las comunidades han empezado a llegar para ser parte de este proyecto.
¿Cuál es la importancia de comprar algo artesanal y cómo saber cuando algo es artesanal?
Creo que la principal característica de algo que se considera artesanal es que sea hecho a mano 100%, que utiliza materiales industriales (como el Okama que es de plástico pero está hecho a mano). Yo insisto mucho en 2 cosas: en comprar cosas hechas a mano y no pedir rebaja. He visto que es una práctica que se da en todo el mundo, no solamente en Colombia, yo muchas veces digo que si ustedes van a tiendas de grandes superficies como a Zara, a nadie se le ocurre entrar pidiendo una rebaja. Un artículo hecho a mano significa que el tiempo y trabajo que dedica la persona para realizarlo es de días y hasta meses.
La importancia de tejer en las comunidades indígenas y la relación con la tradición
Aquí en Colombia llamamos al tejer como el oficio de tejeduría y eso es parte de las tradiciones culturales, no solo de las comunidades indígenas, sino también de los campesinos y mestizos, está muy arraigado en nuestro país.
En las comunidades indígenas, a través de la tejeduría ellos pueden expresar muchas cosas que son parte de sus tradiciones. Por ejemplo, hay una comunidad conocida como los indígenas arhuacos y ellos a través del tejido expresan el pensamiento del hombre y de la mujer. El tejido va más allá de ser un oficio, tiene una carga cultural muy importante para las comunidades que trabajan este oficio.
El Okama, refleja también la historia de cada persona, ¿nos puedes contar más..?
Dependiendo del tamaño del Okama la mujer lo utiliza según la experiencia que tiene, una mujer mayor ya utiliza Okamas muy grandes y los de las jovencitas utilizan collares más pequeños que representan la corona del Sol. Las piezas artesanales todas tienen una historia y una carga cultural y cuando yo estuve en contacto con la comunidad indígena fue cuando empezaron a verlas pero estas piezas son parte de su día a día y todo tiene su significado. De ahí de nuevo mi insistencia de no pedir rebaja porque no es solo una pieza artesanal sino que compras también un poco de la historia de esa comunidad.
¿Qué representan las mochilas?
Lo bonito de las mochilas es que representan el útero de la mujer, en la mochila se va guardando lo más importante, así como en el útero de la mujer se gesta lo más importante que es la vida. Cuando una mujer indígena está tejiendo su mochila, como están constantemente tejiendo, esa mochila y ese tejido se cargan de esas historias diarias que vive la persona mientras cose. La elaboración comienza desde 0, desde esquilar las ovejas para elaborar los hilos de lana y empezar a tejer. Es un proceso larguísimo y a la persona le van pasando muchas cosas, y es por eso que se dice que en las mochilas arhuacas se expresa el pensamiento de la mujer y del hombre.
Add Your Heading Text Here
Lealtad, amor por la tierra y solidaridad. Creo que son 3 características que identifican a las comunidades y admiro un montón. Una cosa que admiro es el sentido de la palabra, estamos acostumbrados a que todos nuestros acuerdos importantes tienen que quedar por escrito, para ellos el valor y la importancia de la palabra, si quedas en algo con ellos lo cumplen.
Tienen un amor y una conexión increíble con la madre tierra. Como anécdota, uno de los indígenas solo con saber la dirección del viento sabía que iba a llover y yo creo que mucho de esto se ha perdido en las ciudades, también ha ayudado el cambio climático a que se vuelva más impredecible.
Son personas muy solidarias, uno puede pensar que no tienen nada material, pero tienen una solidaridad y un corazón inmenso que creo que nosotros hemos perdido también un poco. Creo que con la pandemia deberíamos volver la vista a las comunidades indígenas, muchos han podido seguir con su vida, cultivan sus alimentos, tienen acceso a agua limpia, viven con la luz del Sol, etc.
¿Cómo ha impactado a las comunidades la pandemia y a Wana?
Este es un tema complicado, hay muchas comunidades indígenas con las que nosotros trabajamos decidieron aislarse en sus territorios para evitar el contagio porque en esos territorios las condiciones médicas no son las mismas. Esto hizo que nuestra producción y nuestro trabajo con ellos se pausara pero es totalmente entendible. A comienzos de la cuarentena en Colombia en el mes de marzo, las comunidades indígenas tuvieron una emergencia alimentaria, no tenían como comer ni cómo vender y ellos viven de esto, de nuevo la importancia de no pedir rebaja ya que significa que tienen menos dinero para obtener comida y alimentar a sus familias.
Nuestros esfuerzos este año estuvieron centrados en apoyar a las comunidades, hicimos campañas de crowdfunding para poder enviarles alimentos. Este año las prioridades de todos cambiaron, pero es una situación en la que estamos todos y creo que una de las grandes enseñanzas que nos trae esta pandemia es que somos muy vulnerables y a pesar de la clase social, todos somos iguales porque a todos nos afectó, a unos más que a otros, pero nos ha tocado a todos.
Estamos viendo que hay empresas que hacen greenwashing, ¿cómo identificar una marca que apoye el comercio justo, hecho con materiales sostenibles?
Primero ser una empresa 100% sostenible es muy difícil y muy costoso. Hay muchas iniciativas que hacen un esfuerzo importante por ser sostenible pero no es fácil, creo que una de las formas en las que podemos darnos cuenta es investigando las empresas, uno se da cuenta si están implementando los 10 principios de comercio justo de la manera en que comunican las cosas. Una empresa que se dedica a mostrar sus productos pero nunca cuenta quién está detrás de eso, nos podemos preguntar cómo será el trato con los trabajadores y también en el momento de elaborar los diseños de las cosas que sacan al mercado, en teoría las comunidades deberían participar en ese diseño, no solo ser visto como mano de obra y ya.
Con respecto a los materiales, tú puedes decir que trabajas con materiales reciclados. Por ejemplo, el tema del micro plástico, si tienes una camiseta que cuando se lava empieza a desprender micro plástico que se van al mar. Es un camino retador pero lo más importante es investigar y preguntar.
Un ejemplo es una iniciativa que era socialmente sostenible, que hacía mascarillas con molas, y yo les decía que estaban usando mal la mola, y la mola no se puede cortar, es una forma de escritura y es romper completamente con la tradición. No se puede vender esto como que mejora la vida de las comunidades cuando se rompe la tradición cultural y se hace un uso incorrecto de la mola. Si los dueños de las molas deciden hacer ese cambio, es su decisión pero es diferente cuando alguien externo hace un mal uso.
El consumidor tiene un papel muy importante. El tema de la sostenibilidad está muy de moda pero a mi cuando me hacen preguntas de si las comunidades indígenas llevan a cabo procesos sostenibles en la elaboración de sus piezas yo les invito a que les pregunten cuál es su concepto de sostenibilidad. empieza a haber cierta mirada de querer imponer a las comunidades un concepto de sostenibilidad que es ajeno a su modo de vida.
Has mencionado alguno de los errores que cometen los consumidores a la hora de comprar moda, ¿tienes más consejos para evitarlos?
Hay que investigar bien y ser consumidores responsables. A mi me genera mucha desconfianza cuando alguien me dice que trabaja con artesano pero no veo esto en ninguna parte de su storytelling y esto me hace dudar. El mejor consejo para comprar moda sostenibles (no solo prácticas adecuadas con el medio ambiente sino también de prácticas sociales y culturales con el medio ambiente) es investigando y conociendo el origen de lo que compramos. Muchas empresas cuando venden una pieza artesanal cuentan la historia de dónde viene, esto también genera confianza en el consumidor de que algo se está haciendo bien.
Fortunately, our society mindset is gradually evolving towards sustainability. Consumers are increasingly aware of the impact their shopping habits have on the environment and are looking for ways to buy sustainably.
A 2019 survey led by Hotwire found that 47% of internet users worldwide had ditched products and services from a brand that violated their personal values. Sustainability was on the top of that list. Consequently, there has been a rise in the presence of “eco” labels in our everyday products.
An “eco” label does not equal sustainable
However, we should be aware of “greenwashing”: when a company deceptively labels itself as “environmentally friendly,” “sustainable,” or “green” on its packaging without real evidence to back up the claim.
Every day a new big, quite unsustainable corporation launches a new project, line of products or campaign aimed towards those who are looking for easy ways to shop sustainably. However, a clear distinction should be made: not because they carry out “some” sustainability-oriented practices does it mean they are a sustainable company.
The case of Amazon
As environmentally conscious people, when we hear the word Amazon, sustainability is not exactly the word that comes to our minds. Yet, to be in line with the new environmental trend, they have launched an “eco-friendly” shopping platform with products that have sustainable credentials. (The Guardian)
Nevertheless, many environmental activists have pointed out that this new launch is just the “tip of the iceberg” of the 4 to 5 billion shipments made by the multinational every year.
And when you come to think of it, the fact that they have a separate business project for sustainability means that the rest of the business is not. Plus, the Covid-19 pandemic has given Amazon the opportunity to increase its business at the expense of medium to small companies.
What makes a good eco shop good?
With such an amount of shops that either claim they are sustainable or that incorporate some products in their portfolio under the “eco” label, what makes a good eco shop, “good”?
A real sustainable shop will focus on their values from the ground up. A company may carry “visible” environmentally friendly actions, like using recycled packaging or promoting sustainability and inclusivity through their products and advertising, but still be detrimental to the environment and to society. This is the infamous case of feminist t-shirts crafted by underpaid women from developing countries.
The focus should thus be shifted towards the supply chain. This includes water usage, fossil fuel consumption, toxic chemicals and the respect of human rights in the factories. While most of the environmental damage happens here, non-sustainable companies tend to hide this process from clients and stakeholders.
Look for labels
There are some certifications and standards that will help you on your journey towards sustainable shopping. Eco-labels will protect us from “greenwashing” as they are granted by a third party that acts as a certifying entity.
Some labels you should search for are:
– EU Ecolabel: covers the entire life cycle of the product or service: design, manufacture, distribution, use and final disposal.
– Fairtrade: for an ethical production that benefits the workers.
– Rainforest Alliance Certified: for a reduced carbon footprint.
– FSC : for forest and rural areas protection.
A “good” sustainable shop will most likely have all the labels. This is important, as we as customers should not decide between a fair treatment of employees and the use of toxic materials. A real eco shop’s ultimate goal is to make this world a better place to live in, so they will want to constantly work ethically.
Why marketplaces like Kendani.com are a better option than a retail shop
Our objective in Kendani.com is to make the process of sustainable shopping easier for you. We know how not all of us can afford hours of Google search to find a brand that is both sustainable and offers the products we need. Our platform is open to sustainable brands that are “good” (and not just “greenwashed”) and we have a wide variety of products and categories.
What is more, in Kendani.com, the connection with the brand is direct, so the products are not overpriced. This is an advantage you will not get from normal retailers, which charge a higher price for the products in order to get benefits.
Shopping at platforms like Kendani is also more sustainable. The process of stocking and shipping is simplified, as the products are directly sent to the customers from the vendors. In the case of retailers, the products get stocked in a third warehouse and then sent to the customers, adding steps to the supply chain.
Some real sustainable brands
What does a real sustainable shop look like? We have some examples of real Spanish “eco-brands” to show you:
– ESENS cosmetics: this cosmetics brand cares for the environment by using natural ingredients and non-polluting processes, supporting ecological causes and not testing on animals.
– Mik by Nalex: the Spanish jewellery brand uses recycled materials to create minimalist designs that both you and the nature love to have.
– EKOMODO: they create elegant accessories for daily use. Made from recycled materials, all the EKOMODO products have positive environmental impact.
What all real eco brands have in common is they behave ethically in every step of the supply chain, not only on the “surface”.
To sum up, do not blindly trust all companies that claim they are eco, but rather look deeper and focus on the practices in their chain of supply and on their verified labels. For a simplified process, go to platforms like Kendani.com or do some research and look for labels. Have a nice and sustainable shopping experience!
What do the CEOs of Microsoft, Panda Express, Medtronic and Linkedin (amongst others) have in common? They all practice meditation regularly, and they swear on the positive impact it has on both their work and personal life. Sounds surprising, right? (see Peak Wellness)
Scientific research proves that meditation really is the key to productivity. According to the University of Massachusets research (2005), there’s a strong correlation between meditation and increased grey matter in the prefrontal cortex. That area of the brain is responsible for decision-making, focus, judgement, behaviour, planning and self-discipline (NCBI)
Focus, focus, focus
In other words, on a neurological level, meditating will make your brain more productive. Your performance will increase significantly as your brain finds it easier to make productive actions. Say goodbye to the endless cycle of procrastination and non-productive hours!
Furthermore, with meditation comes mindfulness, the practice of living fully in the present moment, focusing all your attention and being intentional on what you are doing. That is, you will find it easier to silence your inner distractions and instead focus on one thing. Which makes sense, as meditating implies silencing your thoughts and focusing on your breath. (Medium)
Yet, most people associate meditation as a kind of “magical”, almost a spiritual practice, which is only within the reach of some gurus. By the end of this article, I want you to be motivated to give this self-care habit a try, and gradually experiment all the benefits it will bring into your daily life.
Busting the myths
Meditation is surrounded by many myths. The first one is that you need to be an expert to do it. The truth is, getting started is easier than it seems. For beginners, the idea of silencing your thoughts might seem utterly impossible. However, aim small at the beginning. Breathe in and out consciously during as little as a minute when you feel overwhelmed. Observe the (even small) change in your body and mind that reconnecting with yourself can have.
The second one is that the benefits are not scientifically based, and that practicing meditation is, ultimately, quite useless. However, evidence has shown this to be false, as we will see now. Furthermore, the long-term effects of regular meditation have a still larger positive impact on our overall well-being.
Benefits: for everything, for everyone
The incredible thing about meditation is that it is positive for each and every kind of person, and that its benefits are all-encompassing. It is the answer to both tiredness and sleeplessness, to productivity and to relaxation. Here are some of the most relevant benefits of the practice. (Bear in mind, the complete list is endless)
Meditation can decrease blood pressure. A recent study by the University of Lanzhou (2015) on 966 volunteers found that, when meditating, blood pressure was reduced by 5 points on average. Meditating helps relax the nerve signals that coordinate the heart function. This not only happens during the practice, but the trend can be found on those who meditate regularly. (PubMed)
Boosting your immune system
The current global pandemic situation we are living has taught us to value our immune system. The good news is, recurrent mindfulness sessions improve meditators’ immune system, according to a 2003 study carried out at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (WISC)
A good night of sleep
Considering that insomnia is a problem that unfortunately most of us will experience at some point, meditation can be a real lifesaver. To prove it, a study created two separate groups of participants, and randomly assigned one of them to practice meditation. (Pub Med)
The participants that engaged in meditation fell asleep sooner and stayed asleep longer in comparison to those who did not meditate. Most of us know the problem of our thoughts invading our head the moment it rests on the pillow. Meditation can help with that.
Managing stress and anxiety
You know the drill. We live fast lives full of work, activities and obligations. It is extremely easy to feel overwhelmed – thankfully, tools like meditation can really make a difference. Stress is actually the main reason why people try meditation.
Stress is produced by the hormone cortisol, which in turn disrupts sleep, promotes depression and anxiety, and increases blood pressure. This means that the impact of stress on our physical and mental health is awfully negative. It is therefore an important problem, and we should definitely aim to lessen the impact.
Amongst many other scientific studies that prove this, an eight-week study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2012) found that meditation reduced the inflammatory response stress has on our body. Another study of 1300 adults found that meditation indeed decreases stress, and that it was particularly true for people with higher levels of stress. (Science Direct)
Meditation can help you create a more positive outlook on life. One study by various prestigious universities (Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Harvard) compared the electrical activity between the brains of those who meditated and those who didn’t. They found that those who engaged in mindfulness meditation had increased activity in the brain areas related to positive thinking and optimism ( LWW Journals)
Another study by the University of Massachusetts observed 18 patients as they practiced meditation for three years. They observed that the participants experienced long-term decreases in depression. (Science Direct)
Tips for beginners
Now that you’ve seen all the benefits, you may want to give it a go. To get started, I recommend mindfulness meditation, which consists of perceiving the thoughts as they go through our mind. It is not about judging them, but rather about fighting that urge of evaluating them by simply observing them as they come and go.
But, how do we do this? Here are some steps that might help you:
- Sit or lie somewhere comfortable where you can stay still for as long as you like
- Close your eyes. It will help you go deep within yourself
- Breathe normally. Do not force any kind of pattern, accept it.
- Now focus on your breath. How it affects your body, how it makes you feel.
- Go about this for two to three minutes to start, then gradually increase that period of time.
Or else, you can start with many of the guided meditations available on the internet. They will be very helpful if you are a beginner. Some recommendations are The Honest Guys, The Mindful Movement and PowerThoughts Meditations YouTube channels.
At the beginning, it is absolutely normal to find it difficult to give our thinking mind a break and focus on our breathing and the sensations of our body. This is especially true in our modern society, in which constant stimulus and activity is encouraged. Here in Kendani we want to help people to live mindfully, to get a chance to escape from the outside “busyness” through their homes, or even through their skin care.
However, this “busyness” we experience makes it even more important to give ourselves some time to rest and replenish. So, give yourself this very deserved treat and return to the breath!
Our global waste problem
The data on global waste is alarming. The World Bank estimates that waste production will increase from 2.01 billion tonnes in 2016 to 3.40 billion tonnes in 2050. Furthermore, at least 33% of this waste is mismanaged globally through open dumping or burning. (World Bank)
It then becomes obvious that, in order to live a sustainability-oriented lifestyle, reducing your waste generation is key. Fortunately, our society is taking progressive steps towards minimum waste, both institutionally (through bans and restrictions) and individually (by changing consumption habits). This is where Zero Waste comes in.
What does being Zero Waste mean?
What is exactly Zero Waste? According to the Zero Waste international alliance, “Zero Waste is the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse and recovery of products, packaging and materials without burning, and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health ”. (Zero Waste Europe)
In other words, Zero Waste theory is basically sending as little as possible to the landfills. Adhering to this lifestyle would imply, for instance, taking your own cloth bag to buy your vegetables at the supermarket instead of using a new plastic bag every single time, or using reusable cotton pads instead of the disposable ones.
(Photo by: Laura Mitulla)
Why being zero waste is awesome
We live in an economy of waste. Products have a linear lifecycle: they are produced with the earth limited resources and end up in landfills. Zero Waste aims at redefining this unsustainable system and move to a circular economy, in which products are given a second opportunity, and thus trash is greatly reduced, or even eliminated.
But is it the only solution?
Being Zero Waste on an individual level is indeed awesome, as you contribute positively to reduce over-exploitation of resources and decrease environmental damage. However, the real problem does not lie in our individual responsibility. As we all know, it is the big corporations who have the last say.
This means that us saving our coffee container for future use has a positive impact, but that impact is overwhelmingly cancelled out by the huge coffee corporation that exploits the land and natural resources of developing countries, uses unsustainable transport methods, or pours enormous amounts of waste into the water and landfills.
A study conducted by the Carbon Majors Report found that only 100 companies have been responsible for 71% of global emissions since 1988. From the point of view of an environmentally conscious person, those numbers are discouraging, and they can make us feel useless in our fight for saving the environment. But there can be hope. (The Guardian)
(Photo by: Antoine Giret)
So, what can I do about it?
Although by no means should you stop being mindful of your waste generation, it is also time to radically reverse our unsustainable consumption system. This cannot be done in one day, but we can take small and progressive steps and actions towards that necessary and urgent change.
Yes, our individual actions will not easily counteract the larger-scale damage big corporations are making to our environment. However, those businesses ultimately sell their products to us, consumers, so we can potentially have a great impact on the way they do business, on their environmental ethics, sustainability practices, or even on their survival as a business.
Here are some ways you can help boost sustainable businesses and shopping.
Buying locally has many positive advantages. Local products not only reduce packaging and waste, but also transport and shipping distances, and thus fuel consumption and Co2 emissions. Additionally, although this is not strictly environmentally oriented, it helps the local economy, and thus its businesses and workers.
Buy mindfully: do not get carried away
Many enterprises that are focused on selling massively (especially in the fast-fashion industry) take advantage of our emotions and feelings so that we buy impulsively. Some of the methods they use are fast-changing fashion trends, loud music in their shops, aggressive advertising and, most importantly, repetitive sales and promotions. To counteract this influence, be mindful of the way you shop.
Ask yourself: do I really need that shirt? Is it long-lasting? Or will I just throw it away in a couple of months? Many times, we find ourselves buying what looks like an attractive product, but it very soon becomes obsolete, out of fashion, or useless.
(Photo by: Artem Beliaikin)
Do some research
I know it does not sound easy, but putting a little work at the beginning goes a long way. Once you find those environmentally-friendly online platforms (like Kendani.com), shops and markets, you will just get in the routine of buying sustainably. Visit your local eco supermarket from time to time or plan a fun trip with your friends to your favourite thrift shop.
On the other hand, if you are not currently able to switch to fully sustainably shops, you could investigate the brands you buy from. Look for the ways they ship their products, their business ethic and their environmental impact. Are they switching to compostable packaging? What kind of fabrics do they use? Are they following environmental and social regulations?
Keep it low waste
And of course, aim towards reducing your waste. At the end of the day, we should all collaborate on waste reduction. So, you may:
- Buy a tote bag for your groceries
- Use a reusable water bottle
- Avoid single-use food containers
- Buy second-hand
- Avoid paper use by switching to digital means
- Borrow before buying
- Compost your food waste
Do not get overwhelmed by all these tips. It does seem like a lot but, when all is said and done, it is all about taking a few progressive steps towards being environmentally conscious. In other words, once you change your mindset as a consumer, everything else will come easily.
Recently I’ve seen a lot of instagram posts of masks being found on the beaches, in the sea, under the sea; Anyone I follow seems to have seen loads of them. Not me, in my Madrid apartment on the 5th floor, until I went on a holiday to Costa Blanca, in the east of Spain. And I came across loads of discarded facemasks at the beach and in the sea (YUCK!), like this ———►
And I started getting curious!
I started wondering if we will wake up one day and find ourselves swimming in blue masks?! So I did some calculations.
The short answer is YES. If we all keep using surgical masks, in a few months time all those used masks can cover Spain 2.6 times. Imagine 2.6 layers of used surgical masks, covering the streets, parks and the beaches! Gross! But, there are better options than surgical masks, so actually the end result depends on our choice of – Which facemask we buy!
By the way, if you are thinking of protesting and not wearing one, prepare your 100 Euros for the fine that you’ll get once the police catches you.
So it appears there is no way around wearing a mask, and rightly so, as masks keep us and other people safe. Now, let’s explore the real environmental (and health) impact of masks, the options in the market, and the best option we have identified. There is a bonus link to the best option facemask too, so just keep reading!
What options do we have?
Let’s look at 3 types of masks available and evaluate their effectiveness in protecting from the coronavirus and their environmental impact.
1. Surgical masks and similar – Protects from the virus, high environmental burden after use, short term life of the product
2. (Handmade) cotton masks – Doesn’t protect from the virus well, low environmental impact after disposal, long product life.
3. Silicone masks – Protects from the virus perfectly, medium environmental impact after disposal, long product life.
Surgical masks and similar (FFP2, n95)
It has been shown that surgical masks are effective up to 4 hours of use, and after that the effectiveness decreases drastically. In their effective hours, surgical masks are fully effective against the virus, but once the 4 hours have passed, their effectiveness drops dramatically to almost equaling to not wearing one at all.
Looking at the physical structure of those masks, we will see the main component being polypropylene, which creates about 50 grams of CO2 per mask during production. However their main environmental impact appears after disposal, as surgical masks cannot be recycled. Given their short effectiveness of only a few hours, they are the biggest creator of waste compared to other types of masks. Sometimes these masks are referred to as the “plastic bottle” of 2020.
Also, typical KN95, FFP2, and N95 masks used in industrial environments and construction are even more pollutive. This is because they are bigger, have more plastic and are also recommended only for single-time use.
(Handmade) cotton masks
While cotton or canvas masks are far less protective against the virus, they are often thought to be the more environmental option. That is potentially true, but it depends on what we are looking at. During production, creating cotton cloth for one mask actually creates 20% more emissions than polypropylene, but considering the lifecycle of the mask, we can see that thanks to its long time of usability (several years) and biodegradable/compostable quality, cotton masks overall create far less pollution and harm than surgical masks do.
While silicone masks have only just arrived to Spain, they’ve already become popular in many other countries that are further ahead in the fight against Covid-19. Not surprisingly, silicone masks are quickly gaining popularity in Spain also, as they are very good at stopping the virus and can be used much longer than any other effective facemask.
To understand the environmental impact of a silicone mask, let’s look at how they are made: Silicone is made of sand or certain rocks that contain silica in them, but the production process of silicone is hardly more environmentally-friendly than the production of plastic. The environmental advantage of silicone comes from the fact that it is reusable and resistant, and also highly recyclable. Silicone masks are normally used with replaceable filters, enabling a single mask to be used for a very long time. Typically, a filter used in a silicone mask can be used for 46 real hours, which is 11 times more than a typical surgical mask can be used. And the mask itself can simply be washed with normal soap and water.
Thanks to it’s long product life, high recyclability and potentially greater protection than a surgical mask, we can say that it is the better choice for a facemask at the moment, both from a safety and environmental point of view.
The real environmental impact of facemasks
Assuming that every Spanish person uses 1 surgical mask per 2 days (remember, one surgical mask is effective for just 4 hours), and given that there are 47 million people living in Spain, the total number of surgical masks used in Spain in just one year is nearly 8,6 billion masks. (182,5 masks / person / year * 47 million people = 8.577.500.000 masks)
That equals to covering all of Spain 2.6 times in surgical masks used in just one year!
And because it takes so long for plastic to biodegrade, your 15th generation of grandkids will still be looking at the surgical mask you dropped on the street 500 years earlier. (Great gift Granny!)
Reusable silicone masks, on the other hand, will create only a fraction of waste compared to a surgical mask. Let’s assume that the lifecycle of a silicone mask lasts for 460 hours. This equals having a mask with 10 replaceable filters, each used for 46hours. This means that the average person needs to buy just 1,6 masks per year (average use 2h / day = 730h / year).
The amount of waste that one person using a silicone mask creates in a year is 1,6x silicone mask + 16 filters, which are one third of the size of a surgical mask. This means that every person using a silicone mask creates 10 times less waste than a person using a standard surgical mask. And the mask itself can be easily recycled.
And what about money?
When it comes to facemasks, there is a huge environmental advantage in using a silicone mask compared to a surgical mask. But when it comes to finances, which one is actually the smarter option for an individual person? The standard surgical mask is commonly thought to be the cheapest option, but is that really the case?
When we consider the fact that a surgical mask needs to be replaced every few days (after just 4h of use), even the cheapest options start to look expensive over a year. Typically in a supermarket you can buy a pack of 5 surgical masks for 6 Euros, meaning that each mask costs 1,2€. During a year, a single person will then end up spending over 200 Euros on just masks.
If the person chooses a silicone mask instead, then the expenditure over a year is just 30 Euros, less than one sixth of the cost of using a surgical mask!
Why should you care?
It can be expected that the Spanish government will require wearing a mask at public places at least until the spring of next year. This means a large financial burden on every single family, accompanied with a huge environmental problem. A family of 2 parents and 2 children will need roughly 500 surgical masks by March next year, and will spend 600 Euros on them. A single silicone mask with 10 filters for each of them would suffice for the same period of time, and cost less than 75 Euros.
As a nation, the Spanish have an option of spending almost 6,9 billion euros on surgical masks and creating nearly 30 million kg of plastic waste over the next 8 months,
using less than 900 million Euros and generating 10 times less waste.
The final verdict
As a conclusion, we can see that a reusable silicone mask is a much better option than a surgical mask. They both give similar protection from the Coronavirus, but a silicone mask creates just one tenth of the plastic waste and costs much less over a period of time. And silicone masks look cool, too!
Let’s all save money by making smarter choices, save our planet from unnecessary plastic waste, and keep our loved ones safe by choosing a mask that actually protects them and us.
We strongly encourage you to get your silicone mask now.
Where to find silicone masks?
Where to find silicone masks?
To our knowledge there are no silicone masks produced in Spain at the moment, and only a few places that make them available. Unfortunately, silicone masks are not commonly available in pharmacies, but they can be found at some sustainable online stores or marketplaces. And of course we have them available here at Kendani.com.
Want to check the math? Here’s the data used for the calculations in this article:
every purchase we make has an impact.
Simply put, every penny we spend is a vote of support for that product or service, and the way it was created. Every company has a guiding philosophy on how they do business. Whether it is just to make the maximum amount of money for the owners, to support the local population, to provide healthy food, or make people’s life easier, that philosophy is reflected in all of their products and services. A responsible consumer will try to understand the underlying values that have created the product or service, and make an informed buying decision.
Certainly, buying less is the best way to reduce your environmental impact, as any environmentalist will tell you. However, we can’t completely stop buying things, and very few have the chance to produce their food or goods independently. With the majority of people living in cities – more than 80% of the population in Spain (Statista, 2020) – the reality is that we have to go shopping for our daily needs. Now, the question is: How can I shop responsibly?
How can I shop responsibly?
Responsible shopping can sound difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. All it really takes is to be curious about what you are spending your money on. Asking and looking for a little bit more information already goes a long way in understanding where the products come from, what they contain and how they were produced.
The first pieces of information are typically found on the product itself. Most products have a label that contains information on the ingredients or materials they’re made of, as well as manufacturing country. Choosing products with more natural materials or ingredients is the first step in becoming a more responsible shopper. Also selecting goods that are made closer to where you live (in your home country) will go a long way in reducing the environmental impact of your purchase. This also reduces the chance that unethical employment practices (like child labor) are used somewhere along the supply chain.
The second piece of information is also typically visible in the product itself. If the product or materials used have been certified, the producers will want to tell you that and make them visible in the product packaging or label. Certification is costly and demanding, and producers that make the effort to obtain certificates for their products already indicate their commitment to responsible business practices.
Third, the place where you buy the product will also indicate whether the product itself is made responsibly or not. If the shop or website is focused on selling the cheapest things, then the products sold are likely to be made in the cheapest possible way. And typically this means higher environmental footprint and lower ethical standards. However, just because something is expensive does not mean it is better for the environment. For instance many luxury brands couldn’t care less about environmentally friendly or ethical production. If that’s the case, how can I know where to shop responsible products?
Where to shop responsible products?
Websites and shops that focus on sustainable and ethical products are the easiest source to find responsible products. Those shops that are truly focused on responsible shopping, will communicate it from the start and let you know their commitment. They choose their providers not simply on price, but mostly according to the values the goods are produced with. They will also share information about the products, their origins and materials/ingredients openly; you don’t need to dig deep to gain that knowledge.
Many shops and chains are selling ‘green’ or ‘bio’ products along with their usual selection. While choosing these products can be slightly better, they are mostly used as ‘greenwashing’ to make the company look better when it is not truly committed to sustainability or ethical business practices. A responsible shopper understands the difference between greenwashing and a true commitment to responsible business.
Why does any of this matter?
The underlying and overarching reason for becoming a responsible shopper is that the way we are consuming goods is also consuming our planet. For already 50 years we have been increasingly using more resources than our planet creates. Climate change is just one of the negative effects that has created. With increasing population and diminishing reserves, we have to act and reverse the trend.
Shopping responsibly is part of the solution. While there are other solutions too, we do need to pay more attention to consumption habits and intentionally try to change them. And the responsibility for that lies with every individual. Governments and international organisations can help in facilitating the change, but in the end it is all of us together that can fix the direction we are headed. The good news is that we don’t need to change the modern way of life drastically. All we need is to start paying a little bit more attention to what we value, what businesses we support, and how all of that affects nature and people.
To wrap up, responsible shopping is not difficult. All it takes is giving a little bit of thought to the products we buy.
There are plenty of responsible options for anything we need, and you can find them easily online or in physical stores. All you need to do is to look for responsible, sustainable or ethical shops and e-commerces.
Human activities have caused global mean temperatures to rise roughly by 1 degree Celcius since the start of the industrial era some 150 years ago. With the current rate of global warming, we will reach 1.5°C warming within the next couple of decades and 2°C a bit later. 1 or 2 degrees Celsius doesn’t sound like much, but it will cause major changes to global weather systems, affecting all life, plants, animals and humans alike. Changing ecosystems, droughts, extreme weather phenomena and sea level rise will cause species loss and extinction. Global climate change will literally affect all life on Earth. Examples of visible changes in our surroundings can be found for instance at NASA’s Global Climate Change site: https://climate.nasa.gov/. If we manage to stop the increase in temperatures and keep the change below 1.5°C, many of the negative effects and associated risks can be prevented.
Though we are late in reacting to the change, it is still not too late. But we need to move from words to actions, and start making better choices. It is true that the majority of emissions are caused by industries that normal people have very little direct control over, but we do still have collective power. In the capitalist societies (practically all societies, arguably even China), business decisions are based on finances, and one way for normal people to affect the decisions of companies and producers is to make conscious decisions on how we spend our money. If companies that pollute the air, ground and water do not have customers buying their products, they are quickly out of business. This way you can also have the power to create change. Collectively, our everyday decisions of what we buy, eat, wear, use and consume will guide businesses. And if we start making conscious decisions on choosing more sustainable options, change for the better will follow.
(Source for data: IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, Summary for policymakers, 2018. Available at: https://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf)