• Nadine Almer

How to: Sustainable Living - Introducing SUSLA WebApp

|| A webApp that enables you to improve on and adapt to a more sustainable lifestyle

I came across SUSLA through an old connection of mine in Switzerland, way back when I did workshops as an ambassador for zerowasteswitzerland.ch . She was (and still is) a pioneer in everything she did (and still does) and is to this day a huge inspiration for me, showing what one person is able to achieve if her heart, soul and mind are set on it. Contributing to the fact that I felt out of touch with the whole concept of sustainability in the first place because of the amount of different households I encountered throughout my travels, I almost immediately took the idea of having some support on that end to heart and was intrigued to be able to test the app.


|| What is SUSLA?

As of know it is a webApp that is planned to be transformed into a regular smartphone app as soon as funding is found. If you are interested to invest or know someone who would like to fund this very intriguing tool, here is their Instagram. Its purpose is to give households and individuals a detailed overview of their carbon footprint.

After a questionnaire it shows you exact results, but it does not stop there. Since it is an educational tool it also presents you with recommendations that improve your overall score, minimising your effect on this planet by taking action. It encourages you to either commit to a so-called experiment or add the recommendations you choose to a roadmap. The experiment option therefore allows you to try a certain action for a trial period to see if you can incorporate this into your everyday life and how it makes you feel to do so. The roadmap shows you directly what reduction of your overall score you achieve while acting upon your chosen resolution.

At the moment there are six countries that contributed to the background data with their specific data bases. Them being Mexico, India, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Denmark and Spain. These can be used to compare your results to the average in your country, giving you a scale on which to measure your overall score and in doing so making it very clear where you stand with your lifestyle in terms of sustainability.

|| 30- Day- Challenge

On the 16th of November I therefore embarked on a 30 day quest (#30daychallenge) to not only review but also engage with the webApp www.susla.app . To be frank, I did not have any expectations and was not sure if there is something I could change. After all, I am a guest in this household, not my own mistress. Nonetheless I was curious and thought that there might be a few things within my control.

The test took me over half an hour and I am sure I probably could have extended that to an hour if I would have been more exact. But coming up with the exact time I spend on buses or trains in the last year seemed nearly undoable, having been travelling solely with public transport throughout the year with no real routine about it to make calculations easier. There were questions about the house itself that I could not answer, relying on the goodwill of my hosts for informations such as the yearly amount of electricity used in the house or the yearly average of wood for heating. In fact, some questions even they could not answer. Which brings me to my first argument of why I loved the app: It makes you think. More so as it goes so deep into topics I never have thought about before. Have you ever really thought about how much time you spend outside your home but indoors somewhere else? Or how much juice, tea, milk or coffee you consume on a daily basis? How many household tools you own, like a dishwasher, vacuum cleaner and freezer? For me, the most shocking thing about my results was the impact of mobility on my score. I knew I had travelled a lot by train, a little less by bus and almost nothing by car- yet in my mind the simple fact that I did not fly anywhere gave me an overall confident feeling that I lived more sustainably than if I would have flown. The harsh truth is that mobility accounted for over six times as much CO2 than I was consuming in food.

My result is not exact though, I have to add that. In them I have the whole of the house in square metres, the whole of electricity and wood expenses for a year, all of their freezers and household items, the overall waste and recycling we all produce, mixed up with my own dietary preferences and leisure time spend. It is therefore a mix and mesh between me as an individual and my host’s lifestyle. The data used to calculate it also relates to the Swiss numbers and not the Scottish numbers, which is where I am right now. But all of that said, it gives me a good overview of where I stand within the average and it tells me a great deal about where my carbon expenses are situated.


|| Taking Action

My specific actions comprise of the following:

Instead of 3 times a week having a 15 minute shower, I will reduce them to 10 minutes.

Instead of having rive once a week, I will switch to potatoes.

Instead of buying (or getting fresh food from our homegrown polytunnel), I will focus on cooking leftovers.

Leave the coffee out completely.

Use the one-plate approach (where I will additionally try to also use the one-cup approach for my tea consumption).

The consistent, already acted upon actions consist of:

Take my own shopping bag.

Only buying local vegetables.

Trying out a vegan diet.

There are a lot more suggestions that the webApp made, unfortunately in my specific situation these are not an option for me. Renting out space that I do not require, moving to an altogether smaller apartment, take public transport to work (which does not exist here on the Isle of Lewis) or work from home (which I already do when it comes to my freelance business), buy wind-generated electricity, make your car available for shared rides and such. When I see these recommendations I think back to my life in Aarau, Switzerland, and how easy it had been to make it sustainable without the loss of convenience. Having everything I needed within walking distance, including work, doctors, local markets and grocery stores, buying package free, using the library instead of buying new, having access to a minimum of five thrift shops within my walking range. The comparison to where I am now and how conflicted I feel sometimes about the compromises I am taking when it comes to living more sustainable, makes me feel so much more appreciative about the possibilities people have that are living in cities and towns. Especially in Switzerland the public transport system, expensive though it may be, is exquisitely and so extensive that you can go anywhere at nearly any time. Then there are also things that I am able to apply here, as remote as it is. The notion of trading second hand books for example is a well established practise. Even in our small community shop they have a shelved space where you can bring and pick DVDs and books, which makes a library not absolutely obsolete but it makes up for no access to one. Thrift shops here in the UK are also committed to a certain charity organisation, collecting money for the cause of cancer research, animal or children’s support, whereas in Switzerland they are privately owned (with the only exception being The Salvation Army, Red Cross Foundation).

|| So Far, So Good?!

My one month trial started nearly two weeks ago and I have to say that I am very happy I did the test and am able to follow up on my footprint whenever I choose. The application is very flexible and user friendly. Though I rarely do check the reduction in carbon on my roadmap, there are other benefits that I value highly.

For one it definitely started a conversation. Talking with my hosts about their electricity usage, realising that my mobility freedom resulted in a skyrocketed emission of carbon, sharing my journey on my Instagram and on my YouTube channel - all of this contributes to a needed and very enriching form of becoming aware of climate change, our own contribution to it and how to start improving our habits.

Which neatly brings me to the second and third benefit I want to highlight.

Habits. And change.

Both are ultimately tied together and allow us to take back our power to not feel like we need to stand by in this important discussion. Habits are hard to change, I know that, having spend the majority of my last five years cultivating healthy changes in my mental, emotional and practical life. Yet, every single action counts no matter how small or big. It may not seem much compared to the weight of the world on all our shoulders, but it is much once we realise how empowered we are and how contagious it is to track your own record of emissions, talk about it and share stories and journeys with others. We alone determine our happiness and no one can tell us what we can and cannot do. This means that if you take this test and you are committing to switching from sixteen cups of coffee to ten per week, celebrate it once you have accomplished it. After the celebration and pat on the back you might find out that ten is enough and you accidentally have indeed changed a habit, all by yourself, simply by giving it a chance.

This is where I am right now. The little, simple things give me joy. If I have a shower time of 12 instead of the 10 I set out to, I will not whip myself up and if I achieve the 10 minute mark I will dance around the bathroom, enjoying a little contribution to a worldwide problem. That is all it takes. Mix a little interest with some of your precious time, spice it up with the joy of experimenting and the curiosity of talking about your thought processes, and out comes… well you never know, right?!

So, how about you try it for yourself.


Much joy and form my heart to yours, love and light, beloved souls

Nadine

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