We’re still in the beginning of the year, which means there’s plenty of time to think, decide, and make a promise to live more sustainably in 2019. But where to start? It can be overwhelming to think about how much we need to change to make our everyday lives really sustainable. We at Jajamän think it’s best to start with the little things. So, to give you some ideas, here’s the Jajamän team’s personal sustainability promises for 2019, made up of small things we’re going to aim to change in our daily lives. We each share a promise we’ve made, the why behind it, and how we plan to stick to it.
Netta, Jajamän Founder
In 2019, I promise not to buy new cotton clothes.
There are many problems associated with the cotton industry that make me unwilling to contribute to it. Forced and child labour are alarmingly common in the cotton industry, with reports of unethical practices in many cotton-farming countries. Secondly, the effects of the chemicals used in cotton farming are significant. In fact, even though cotton only uses 2.4% of the world’s arable land, it uses 24% of pesticides. This has deadly effects for those in contact with the crops, including cotton field workers and animals. It also affects people who live near cotton fields with huge spikes in cancer rates, birth deformities, and making the land unusable. Then there’s the amount of water used. Cotton is a thirsty plant which requires more than 2000 litres of water to grow enough cotton for 1 pair of boxer briefs. That’s crazy!
If you’re still in doubt or just want to learn more, watch the documentary "True Cost" on Netflix.
It’s hard to find alternatives to cotton! Cotton is a great material due to its ability to control moisture, insulate, provide comfort, and wash easily. In particular, most kids’ clothes are made from cotton. Synthetics are not a good option because its fibres (containing plastic) wash into the oceans and contribute to pollution.
I guess the best option is not to buy any clothes at all, but that is a little tricky, especially when you live in Scandinavia and have 3 kids! But I can most certainly buy less, and the purchases I make can be conscious ones.
This year, I’m buying the kids’ clothes second hand. If I have to buy cotton, I will make sure it's organic. I’m reducing the amount of clothes I’m buying for myself, but when I do buy, I’ll look for quality pieces made from alternatives such as hemp, lyocell, and bamboo. There is also the option of renting clothes, especially for special occasion pieces. None of these options are perfect, but in 2019 I’m taking a step in right direction while waiting for the perfect material to come my way. And if it does not… I’ll do my best to create it!
Leonor, Marketing Team
In 2019, I promise not to throw away any clothes or shoes
Textile waste is a problem most of us contribute to. It’s inevitable that our clothes and shoes become unusable at some point, and textile recycling is not that easy to find in most places. This means that most people throw away old clothes and shoes with their regular trash, and they end up in a landfill, contributing to the release of toxic gases, like methane and CO2, as they decompose. With the rise of fast fashion, clothes are very cheap and not very durable, so people buy more and throw away more. This has made the apparel industry the second largest industrial polluter in the world.
First, I’m going to think twice before deciding that an item in my closet is no longer usable. These boots for example, seem to be waving good-bye forever, but I actually plan on keeping them for several more years. How? Instead of throwing them away and spending on a new pair, I am going to invest in getting them repaired. A local shoemaker will repair them by hand, so they will be even better than new. We all have the temptation to think, “I’m going to spend money on this, I might as well get something new.” But, if we take the environmental effects into account, it is definitely worth it to repair what is repairable. If something really can’t be repaired or donated, I will take it to a textile recycling station (read our post about recycled textiles here!). I also plan on buying fewer and better quality items this year, so that they last.
Vivi, Marketing Team
In 2019, I refuse to use single-use plastics.
Single-use plastics are a huge source of pollution both on land and in the oceans. It takes 500+ years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill, and only about 1% of plastic bags are returned for recycling. Even if you’re not throwing your plastic into the ocean, it can end up there. 80% of ocean plastic pollution enters the ocean via land. This pollution affects the environment, animals, and humans. In fact, micro plastics have been found in humans and in our food chain.
The most common appearances of plastic in my life are in cosmetics, groceries and take-away drinks and food. This year, I will always bring a cloth bag with me, so that I’ll never need a plastic bag, even when spontaneously shopping. I’ll shop at packaging-free stores (there are amazing ones in most cities!) instead of buying groceries that are wrapped in plastic. I will also buy plastic-free products, such as glass-packaged shampoo, face wash, and facial cream. When I buy take-away coffee, I’ll always bring a mug and Tupperware with me. Usually, cafes and restaurant don't mind if you use your own containers!
Angela, Art Director
In 2019, I will buy more locally produced food.
All farming, but especially commercial cattle farming, affects the environment. It produces a lot of methane, affects the water around its production, and is often a not a friendly business. Eating locally produced food minimizes some of those effects and also diminishes the amount of CO2 that is used in the transportation of food.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of reading tags! I’m going to select fruits and vegetables that are locally and seasonally sourced. Admittedly, eating what’s in season locally can be limiting, but it forces you to get creative. For example, in the winter in scandinavia, we pretty much only have apples! But, it’s ok since there are 80 or so varieties of them. It is difficult, and maybe even controversial, to stop eating dairy altogether (I would rather support a local dairy farmer than, let’s say, support the pharmaceutical industry by taking vitamin D pills), but I can limit my intake to only a few times per month. When eating dairy, I will only buy organically and locally sourced cheese, milk and eggs.
What will your 2019 step toward sustainability be?