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  • Skribentens bildSuzanne Axelsson

Sustainability in the Early Years

My daughters strike together with Greta here in Stockholm, and as it is Greta's birthday today, I thought it would be appropriate with a post about sustainability, and how can we be more actively planet friendly.

What my daughter's wish is not that everyone becomes vegan or stops flying (even though they no longer fly, which is making things more tricky since my mother and family live in England) - but that everyone eats with reflection and consideration of the planet - eat local as much as possible, eat organic as much as possible, cut down on animal products where you can, and importantly don’t waste food...

Waste is a massive adjustment in thinking... how can we buy and make so that we don't waste? How can we serve so that food that is not consumed does not have to be thrown out due to policy and food safety?

How can we introduce a more sustainable approach to mealtimes - buying, cooking, serving, consuming, left-overs, cleaning afterwards?

Maybe vegetarian food several times a week, maybe vegan is introduced once a week so that people get comfortable with the idea that this food is yummy (if you provide meals). I have found that sometimes people are wary of vegan food because they don't think it is tasty or complete... so we need to take the time for them to discover this. We also need to think about where vegan products are coming from, not all are earth-friendly - as they have been transported large distances or are very processed.

This is something we can do in our own homes.

As a parent of not only climate activists but also autistic children, food is not always the easiest area to negotiate... because it is not simply about getting the right taste, or appearance, but also the right texture and combination of foods. So it has been a process, after 14 months of striking one daughter is fully vegan now, after a process of becoming part time vegetarian, to full time, to partially vegan to wholly vegan... she needed to take the time to know that this was something she could do. Her twin is flexitarian... so mostly vegan/vegetarian but occasionaly eats animal products... the rest of us eat animal products but on a much smaller scale now.

And all of this are sustainable steps in the right direction.

It is not just about making changes... but about making changes we can mainatain.

Buying things is a big consumer of energy and materials... as making new things means getting the raw products, transporting to the factories, making the product (which can have several factories and several transportation stages) and then transportation to the customer/shop.

Use second hand as much as possible - buy less things - only what you need, and not because you have a budget that needs to be spent

Buy products that are sustainable - these are often more expensive but if you are buying less things there is money over to buy better quality and lasting things.

Check through what you do and highlight what is already sustainable and create a list of what could be improved - this can be done at home too.

Avoid single use plastics... no more glitter (microplastics) unless buying biodegradable glitter, avoid laminating where you can. Create an atmosphere of respect for things... so that less things get broken, broken things get repaired, and that the children are a part of this process.

Recycling materials, using recycled and upcycled materials, composting etc are easy steps to help children understand sustainable processes.

Why not create a toy/resource library with a group of preschools... instead of everyone buying resources that do not need to be used often, create a shared resource bank/library where you can borrow from each other.

Or why don't we create a facebook group (or other socila media group) where furniture and items about to be thrown out are posted... one person's rubbish is another person's treasure - this way we could cut down the need to spend and buy new and enable a more sustainable approach to getting resources we need.

The most important about sustainability is that it is SUSTAINABLE - that it can be done

So doing it in manageable steps is a really good idea so that everyone is on board and understands it can be done and feel that they can contribute to the process.

I am very proud of my daughters for using their voice for what they believe is right. For daring to stand up for the safety and well being of others, for daring to speak out (when there are so many haters and trolls) for daring to make changes to their way of life to contribute to a better world, for trying to direct attention to the voices of those ignored... As for the flying bit... they know that realistically that stopping flights will not happen... but that we should think about do we really NEED to fly, is there another way... that flight companies KNOW that if they fly lower and slower they do not consume as much fossil fuel, that new advances can be made to make flying more efficient and planet friendly... I still fly, but I make the effort to travel by land and sea when I can... which included train travel in Turkey this year instead of 2 extra flights, and travel by bus, boat and train between Athens and Milan to cut down on a flight!

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