Aller Anfang ist gar nicht so schwer

All beginnings are not that difficult

Are you still buying or are you already thinking green? As a shade of confidence and renewal, green is just right and it is appropriate to think accordingly. Thinking is then followed by environmentally conscious action and we can be confident and improve something if everyone does their part. It is important to simply start and participate in order to achieve big goals in small stages - and to keep at it.

It is not the point to demonize all your Tupperware cans, to dispose of them immediately and to shop for stainless steel containers; even if we find such a euphoric zest for action endearing. Sustainability consists of using a thing for as long as possible, so what we already have may just remain a little bit longer. And if you want to actively sort things out immediately, you could give something away. With disposable products, you can change over immediately as soon as they are used up.

But we can reach the first stage with just one step, if we pay attention to consumption in general. We all need to think more about consumption. Thoughts like: "Do I really need this?", and then simply not buying the great top. This may sound a little sobering, if not disappointing. But it is: Even the new shirt doesn't have to be, if there are enough others in the closet. Using your clothes for a long time is good for the CO2 balance. That's why the decision not to buy something is an absolutely sustainable action and the product that didn't have to be produced is the most sustainable.

Admittedly, a little consistency is already part of it, after all we live in a consumer society, which is very clearly expressed by the example of mobile phone providers: Many companies offer to exchange their old mobile phone for a new one once a year or to get a new one when renewing their contract. However, it is more sustainable to continue to use your current smartphone - even if a cooler or more stylish version has come onto the market. The poet Ernst Ferstl wrote some time ago: "We know exactly what we want. You just have to get it for us." Therefore the best consumption is also the one that does not come about because we ourselves have decided so. Why can you say that?

Let's look at the jeans production. The cultivation of cotton and the dyeing of fabrics are such water-intensive tasks that 8,000 litres of water are needed to produce one pair of jeans. Sounds a lot? It is; 8,000 litres of water are 50 bathtubs, each filled with 160 litres. And if we were to divide the water into PET bottles of 1.5 liters each, that would be 5,333 bottles. Do you drink two bottles of water a day? Then you would have enough to drink for 2,666 days. A pair of jeans is the drinking water for seven years!

Take a break (for consumption)

How do we get to know what we want? By determining for ourselves what advertising we want. Without constantly having tempting offers in front of our eyes, it is easier to buy less. Instead we can concentrate on what is really important. If you stream rather than watch TV, it eliminates one source of advertising. Maybe you can unsubscribe from a few newsletters or get into the habit of sleeping the classic night before making a purchase. There is a nice phrase that says: "Time heals not only wounds, but also the daily temptation to consume."

If you first consciously check what is still on the shoe shelf or in the cupboard, you might see clearly that there is still enough and you don't really need anything new right now.

Clearly, sometimes we want and need variety. Occasionally, another combination of the usual may help or spice up something you have overlooked. Hosting a swap party with friends not only freshens up the wardrobe, but is also well invested time with friends. We certainly like to remember such an evening back and have more of it than of the quickly fading elation of a shopping tour.

On a very high level, life on a barter basis was managed by the life artist, author and psychotherapist Heidemarie Schwermer, who from 1996 to 2007 lived completely without money and "financed" her life by bartering. She wrote down her experiences in the Sterntaler Experiment books.

As I said, this is already a pretty high level of a great life artist and we don't have to do it to her. But we can be inspired by it.

EcoChallenge: Here you will be given weekly tasks that show topics such as food from the region, dealing with plastic waste, mobility and clean light. The brains behind this app are working at the University of Potsdam and want to encourage a more sustainable lifestyle.

Green-Plaza analyses the environmentally friendly behaviour of the user in everyday life. This includes issues such as noise and environmental protection, nutritional tips, energy saving and CO2 balance. A similar app is the CO2 calculator. With this you can compare your own carbon footprint with the national average and also receive news on climate change and climate policy. The CO2 calculator was developed by the Federal Environment Agency.

Erntefrisch is a seasonal calendar that shows you which foods are in season at the beginning or end of the season or in the main season, to prevent long transport routes from polluting the environment.

Zu gut für die Tonne was developed on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and gives you ideas about what you can make tasty food from leftover leftovers and how you can use things you never thought of before (e.g. carrot green). Most of the recipes and tips in the app come from other users, though.

With the help of Codecheck, you can scan barcodes on cosmetics and food products and find out what's in them within seconds. This is how you can find out about microplastics, parabens and the like. The cool thing about it is that you can create your own user profile with incompatibilities or even preferences and then immediately receive the corresponding information.

This is just a small sample of what the Appstore has to offer; you are welcome to browse around to your heart's content. What else helps for more green in life? Appropriate handling. Doesn't it say, "Tell me who you're walking with and I'll tell you how environmentally conscious you are"? Seek contact with like-minded people who inspire you, who share your values and with whom you can exchange ideas. In the organic market or on the internet you can meet role models and become one yourself in the end. The environment needs such role models and it needs you and your commitment.