Within the Erasmus+ Project ‘Tales od 2 Futures’ which aims to encourage participants to explore their values, emotions and identity as a way to reduce their carbon footprint, we have documented projects and personal actions that are saving energy and carbon emissions around Europe and a few other industrialised countries such as the United States and Australia. On our web page (www.tales2futures.eu), you can find, organised by countries, some of these projects or initiatives that are being carried out.
Below you can see some examples of these personal stories we have gathered in our country:
We use the car to save time but we are also helping our health. In order to be healthier, we join a gym and w ego there by car. I always walk everywhere, as long as it’s possible, or sometime I ride my bike, and I actually get to places before I would do going by car. In this way, I feel healthier, I save time and money and I help keeping the air clear and clean.
Aleidis Toledo Trullàs
I minimised my carbon footprint with basic habits; the greatest difference was changing my means of transport: walking instead of moving by car. Currently, I walk everyday for from half an hour to 4 hours and I feel much better both physically and mentally. In addition, I save money in petrol and parking and, when I want to travel to another city, before just taking the car, I first check the public transport available.
I grew up in Russia. Russian winter lasts about 5 months of the year .My flat was heated by a central system .The heating was turned on in October and off in April. So, very cold outside (about -20ºC), but very hot inside (+25ºC). I couldn´t control the temperature, that´s why, when I was hot, I opened the window. Now that I live in Spain, I have changed many of my habits. For example: I recycle, dry my cloth outdoors, take a short shower instead of a bath, etc. I suppose that we are responsible for the future of our planet, plants, animals,…”
When I was little, in school they taught us the so called ‘3 R rule’ (Reduce, Reuse and Recicle) and I thought it was great! In our society, sometimes we tend to skip the first two ones and we forget about how important it is to start by reducing the amount of energy and resources we use. In this way, we are acting in a more effective and efficient in favour of the environment. I always try to act following this ‘3 R rule’ in my daily life and I ask myself before taking any step, ¿could I reduce my impact on the environment? ¿would it be more effective to reuse?
Some time ago I was not very aware of issues related to environment or sustainability. This is why I didn’t pay much attention to my daily water consumption. When I realised the huge amount of water that we waste every day I decided to take some measures about it. One of them is not wasting all the cold water in the shower while I wait for it to be warm: I have placed a big container in my shower where I keep all those first litres of cold water in every shower I take. Then, I used them to water the plants, mop the floor or any other use I can give them, without wasting it.
When I had to change cars, I thought about buying a more efficient car that consumed less and was less noisy, but with the same level of comfort and safety. I was looking at electric cars, but these are almost exclusively for urban environments, as there are still not many electric charging stations. Finally, I decided to buy a hybrid car, which allows me to drive more efficiently in the city and to make longer journeys by road. I think in the future all cars will be electric, but there is still some more work to do on it.
From my position as the head of the Central Control Department in Reus, I am responsible of looking for technological solutions to apply in all municipal services and facilities, which benefit Reus citizens. Our main aim has always been finding the best solution, the one that saves more energy and which, therefore, saves more money from the municipal services. A good example of these kind of solutions is the incorporation of movement detectors in Reus public car parks and the regulation of the light intensity indoors depending on such movement detection. In the 8 public car park the investment of €13,500 in detectors has translated from the very first moment into over 3 million euros annual savings. This is only one of the around 50 different saving measure that we have been applying during these last years.
As a teacher, I am acutely aware of what we have in our hands, children who will become tomorrow those who will run the world. And for that, we should orient them in a sensible way in the reality that surrounds us in order to be able to become free, committed, supportive and responsible citizens.
I have always been very creative and I have enjoyed making things with my own hands. Almost by chance, I found some defective lens that my father kept in the attic and I began to try different things with them. Finally, I got something as a result which I liked and I started to reproduce it. Since then, every time I want to create something new, I think about recycling things that are no longer used or that do not work, to give them a new life. After that first time, I have recycled old coins, watch spheres that no longer worked and I am now recycling musical instruments that no longer work to make lamps.
In my family, we decided about a year ago to have a more conscious attitude when buying clothes and shoes. Whenever it’s possible, we buy products made and manufactured in Spain or the EEC, in order to protect child labour. On the other hand, we have also reduced the amount of clothes we buy. We try to buy only when we need it and we always give whatever we don’t use to relatives or clothes friends or we give it to the church or different charities (who will give it to people in need).
Due to different circumstances, I have been living in several places during these last recent years. Every time I moved, I took a couple of suitcases with the most important things and the rest stayed in my house in Madrid. After a few months, I realized that I did not miss anything I had in the house of Madrid, many times I did not even remember what I had, which made me reflect on the fact that we don’t actually need most of the things we have. Since then, I try to buy fewer things and I avoid buying very cheap products, which are going to be broken right away and will end up in the trash, generating more waste.
Since I was little, at home they have taught me to save enery and not to waste food or water. This is why in all my daily actions I take these values into account and I act trying to cause the smallest carbon footprint possible.
My parents have taught me to recycle and this is for sure one of the things I am going to teach my children too. I believe it is very important and it takes almost no effort.
Since I was very young, I have always used public transport to move around the city. It is very convenient, it works well and you can go from anywhere to anywhere else without damaging the environament.
When I first came to this country, it was a surprise to me that the people wasted and threw away so much food. It seemed to me that people here buy a lot more food than what they really need and consume. In my family, there is the unwritten rule to finish the food that is in the refrigerator. Before going grocery shopping again, we prefer to finish what we already have so as not to waste.
When I was 18 I went to study in Barcelona. It was a very interesting experience: sharing flat with friends, meeting a lot of new people… But it also meant being responsible of many thing, among which, my own economy. Everything was very expensive and, therefore, I always bought in big malls and multinationals. Some time later, I found a job that allowed me to think about what role I wanted the play in society. Was it worth it buying meat from animals that suffered? Buying vegetables that contained many toxics that affected my health? Buying €3 t-shirts made under child labour?
No. From that moment, I changed my habits and I decided to buy in local shops and support Km0 and biological producers. Above all, I wanted to make sure my actions weren’t involved in any kind of animal suffering, child labour or slavery.
In a world where it seems that successful people are those who make business regardless of the consequences, it is hopeful to see that the idol of many engineers is Elon Musk for his revolutionary ideas. His main aim for the future, and one of his greatest challenges, is bringing closer to all citizens 100% electric and clean emissions cars. It is also comforting to see that many young students see him as a leader and want to work with him in the same direction.
I decided to channel my studies to finding solutions for the existing unstable equilibrium between society and the environment. We are one of the species living on the Earth, and I think we do not worry enough about its sustainable evolution. One of the conclusions I have reached is that as consumers, we have the power of changing things, and multinationals and big corporations ruling the world cannot deprive us from it. If we organise ourselves and change our habits, we can also make a change in the established relationship between the environment and people, always taking into account their dignity, for example, by establishing agreements between producers and consumers, without intermediaries.
Joaquim Vilafranca Pijoan
Both when working as an architect and as q professor of materials related to building, I try to follow my principles as much as possible and to use all my knowledge on energy efficiency. In both water and electricity installations, there are many resources we have in our hands so as not to waste energy, which is –and will continue being– a scarce source. I believe that my small contribution is to raise awareness among new generations of technicians who, further on, will be able to implement everything they learn.
My contribution to the environment is mainly based on reusing, especially at home. For instance, at home we have the habit of using a bucket in the shower to keep the water until the it doesn’t flow hot. Similarly, we use the water that comes out of the washing machine for chores that do not require 100% clean water, such as watering the garden. I also make soaps of different types with used oil and, for a long time now, we take our own bags when we go shopping, to avoid using more plastic bags. As we live in the outskirts, we need the car to move daily, thus, I have got used to parking it far from the centre and do what I have to do walking.
Finally, I like handcrafting, and this has led me to reusing textile materials, such as old t-shirts, to make carpets, bags and other household utensils.
Due to my age and status as a village person and from a family of farmers, in my childhood nothing was thrown away: food leftovers were given to the cattle and in stores, products were not wrapped in bags; a goat gave us milk daily and we raised chickens and rabbits. Without realizing about it, I have seen a radical change in the way we consume. But what’s even more shocking is that I have to find moments like this to remember and realize how much things have changed.
I am skeptical about reducing consumption, and even more about the selection of urban. Recycling, recovering, reusing, reducing… all governs are always discussing these issues as if they were dealing with them. But, until they do things more rationally, which is actually possible, we will continue making a dump of our planet.
Has no one realized how well this issue is dealt with in schools in contrast to how youngsters leave spaces all dirty after concerts, even though they have received a great education in, for instance, green schools? We should find spaces for reflection.
As a professional diver, I have learnt to value the richness of the marine environment and, consequently, I have also learnt how to take care of it. While learning how to have a more respectful behaviour towards this environment, my goal is to instil in others such importance: the importance of respecting and caring about the environment. Because if we do it together, it is possible.
Seven months ago, I started using my bike on a daily basis, and I have to admit that it has been a big change for me … and for the planet. In my case, because it has meant a complete new means of mobility, a new healthy and pleasant routine that helps me follow a lifestyle which I feel identified with. In the case of the planet, because I am increasing not only mine but also other people’s awareness about the need of adopting new mobility means, more respectful with the environment. And, the bicycle is, definitively, one of them.
In our country, they have been trying to raise awareness about the importance of respecting the environment and reducing our carbon footprint. Since we are little, they teach us not to throw food, not to mess up the environment and not to abuse of the resources we have through awareness campaigns and school talks. However, we have reached the point that the government itself is considering imposing fines to those who, still today, do not even recycling. In my family, respect for nature and good consumption is a basic issue. Since the spread of recycling containers in the cities, there has not been a day we haven’t contributed to this cycle. We have even chosen to give clothes and shoes that we no longer use to those who will. When using running water at home, we turn it on and off so as not to waste it. In winter, we do not turn on the heating until it isn’t completely necessary and we turn it off when we can keep warm just by putting more clothes on. But above all, in terms of food, we buy small amounts of food and regularly, in order to avoid having to throw any away.
There are many measures we can take to care for the environment, and I have always tried to implement them all levels. To start, at home we contribute to domestic energy saving with little habits that help to waste less energy: using low-energy bulbs, using appliances and devices that are more efficient, never using the heating higher than 21ºC in winter, etc. As for household waste, I always try to separate them and throw them into the corresponding containers; in addition, with the organic remains of the kitchen and the garden, I make homemade compost with which I fertilize the plants. Finally, at a consumption level, I try to be as responsible as possible by, for instance, buying in local shops seasonal products and ‘zero kilometer’.
We live in the so called “Welfare Society”, understood as “I can do whatever I want to feel good because I have resources and availability of means.” This concept, in my opinion, is very consumerist and quite selfish: “as I can pay for the light bill, I use heating or air conditioning as much as I want”, “as I can pay for the petrol, I use my car for my convenience even if I have options to use public transport”, etc. It is always difficult to make changes in people’s habits. In my case, after having access to information and knowledge on environmental protection issues, in addition to a tangible change with money saving (without too much effort), I must admit my personal satisfaction for my contribution to sustainability. The aspects that I have worked on have been optimization of energy saving, recycling, use of community services and purchase of products of proximity. I have especially discovered the attractiveness of public transport, the relationship with other people, enjoying the landscapes and having relaxed and peaceful journeys. It is good to talk about sustainability and see that it is in our hands to avoid that, in the future, our environment deteriorates. I have a daughter and I always think about her and her future.