The long awaited 2020 is already here,and so many countries are rushing to meet up with the 2015 sustainable development goal promise- to attain sustainable living by the end of 2030.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic posed a huge drawback to this vision.
Countries like Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Japan, Norway, Malta, and France have done a great job in this quest to attain sustainable living in their countries.
Switzerland source most of its energy needs from renewable energy sources (hydroelectricity and nuclear power), Japan sources 41% if its energy from natural gas and Denmark boasts of rich source of power from wind and solar energy. And the list goes on and on.
Government policies and citizens of these countries play huge roles to ensure they reduce their carbon footprint, foster sustainable living, and increase their environmental performance index (EPI) by the end of 2030.
Th EPI is a number that quantifies a countries’ environmental performance using the 24 performance indicators established by the United Nations.
How were these countries able to attain sustainable living within a short time? That is what we are here to discuss in this article. It generally boils down to two main factors – government policies and societal influence.
Lets get right into discussing the effective ways to attain sustainable living in any country.
Top 5 Countries to Attain Sustainable Living by 2030
As mentioned earlier, the environmental performance index is used as a measure for calculating the environmental sustainability of any country. Countries with high EPI have better regulation on activities that affects the environment, with policies that foster environmental protection.
The top 10 countries in the EPI 2018 chart, and their contributions in order to attain sustainable living in their countries are as follows:
Switzerland has top the EPI chart most of the year. Switzerland has ensured the following in their country towards their bid to attain sustainable living;
- Generates more than 70% of its electricity from renewable energy sources (hydro and nuclear power), thereby reducing her reliance on fossil fuel and reducing air pollution.
- Manages its waste effectively and converts some of the waste to energy source capable of powering up to 300,000 homes across the city.
- Devoted a lot of its land to National parks, encouraging biodiversity and provided natural habitat for wildlife.
- Converts its waste water sludge into useful biogas used in public transportation. This is a way of improving water quality and pollution elimination.
- Able to capture carbon dioxide emission in the atmosphere and storing it for use in green houses. The first industrial plant to put this in operation was location outside Zurich in 2017. They were able to capture 900 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
France is in second place in the EPI 2018 chart. The government, businesses and french citizens have been able to attain sustainable living by;
- Sourcing about 71.7% of its energy needs from renewable energy sources (nuclear power, wind power, and hydro electricity) and uses this to supply 63,130 MW(e) across the country.
- Developing well-established polices that foster more reliability on renewable energy sources. One of such policies is making preparations to shut down all coal fired plants by 2022.
- Having more green spaces by the establishment of National Parks, where nearly 500 plant species have been planted in the park. This will help reduce carbon dioxide presence in atmosphere.
- Practicing waste recycling and low-plastic use by implementing a new cost system to tackle plastic pollution. Items made with plastic costs more than items made with biodegradables.
Denmark has a well established government structure that has kept the country forward for a long time since 1949. Its capital city, Copenhagen is regarded as the greenest city in the world. Here is what they are doing to attain sustainable living;
- Use wind energy to generate 47% of its power needs in the country.
- Recycles plastic garbage for good environmental condition and improved air quality.
- Denmark is a country of many cyclist. Even some prominent government officials go to their offices on bicycles. This ensures better air quality and reduced carbon dioxide emissions.
- Most buses are changing from diesel to electric buses.
As an island, most of this nations resources are within the country, with minimal importation. The country’s government adopted the sustainable development plans and here is what they have achieved so far:
- As of 2017, 70% of the energy generated in Malta comes from natural gas, with little dependency in oil.
- Malta has some of the lowest household electricity prices in the EU. In 2018, the average household electricity price was 0.1306 EUR/kWh, only higher than those in Hungary, Lithuania and Bulgaria.
- Has increased its water quality significantly over the last few years.
Sweden is doing its best to attain sustainable living by harnessing the power of the sun, geothermal energy and wind energy. Other significant achievement of the Swedish government that made them rank in the 5th position of EPI 2018 include;
- More than 50% of Swedish citizens task themselves to purchase eco-labeled food and consumer products more than non eco products.
- Recycling of PET bottles and beverage containers is a serious business in Sweden. Out of the targeted 90% milestone by 2020, 88% of all aluminum cans and PET bottles are now in the recycling system.
- Swedish government introduced the carbon tax. This exercise tax is placed on carbon-intensive fuels to reduce Sweden’s dependency on fossil fuels and cut carbon dioxide emissions.
- Building of “passive houses“. Theses houses are powered using heat generated by the human body, electrical equipment and heat from sunlight. This has been used to build homes in some communities in Sweden.
Effective Ways to Attain Sustainable Living
The government of developed and most UN countries constantly seek ways to live sustainably and be able to meet the 2015 sustainable development goals. As have read earlier, most governments and citizens of EU countries have enshrined the sustainable lifestyle in their culture. But there is more to do. Here is what individuals, corporations and government can do to attain sustainable living by 2022.
Government Policy- Related Activities
- Making policies that will reduce the single use of plastic and adoption of biodegradable alternatives.
- Funding of industrialist that wants to venture into production of sustainable products using eco-friendly materials in their productions.
- Embedding sustainable development in other government policies.
- Providing clean water access for the public and regulating the discharge of pollutants into the environment. Ensuring proper wastewater management, recycling and reuse.
- Construction of more renewable energy plants like hydro-power plants, geothermal plants and nuclear power plants.
Socially Motivated Activities
- Planting of trees at every space available to encourage cleaner air.
- Buying local to support local farmers and cut down carbon dioxide emission generated due to imported foods from over-seas.
- Spending more time with friends outside, to cut down energy usage inside the home.
- Donating old devices to institutions and schools.
- Companies can invest more resources into research on using sustainable materials in making everyday products.
- Creating awareness for the public on tips on how to live sustainably. It’s a good idea to include educational material of the SDGs to employees, shareholders and even customers.
- Engage in business partnerships with companies that share same sustainability goals with your company.
- Invest in the use of renewable sources to power the companies appliances as used in solar blinds in windows of company buildings. The energy trapped from the blinds can be used to power light bulbs in the company.
- Use LED lighting for your homes. These consumes lesser power than the regular tungsten bulbs and tubes.
- Switch off the light when not in use. Besides, you need to go out more often.
- Turn off the heater during cold season, instead, put on extra coat and cardigans. You can wear double socks! Feels a lot better.
- Dry your clothes under the sun to limit the use of electric dryers.
- Reduce paper waste by putting up a “No junk email” sign on your letterbox.
- Consider buying a solar charger. You can get small ones that will charge your mobile phone, tablet and other portable gadgets.
- Grow your own herbs, fruit and vegetables even if it’s just a few pots around the house, it all helps!
- Buy a water-saving shower-head.
- Recycle what you can and compost what you can’t recycle.
- Use organic fertilizers.
- Bulk-buy in order to reduce packaging size. You also save cost when you buy in bulk.
- Buy refurbished tech products. This is another form of supporting recycling. This saves you cost at the same time.
- Eat more vegetables and plant-based dishes.
- Reduce food wastage.
- Work or cycle on short journeys. This way, you have saved the environment from some emissions that would have come from vehicles tail pipe.
- Buy products that support sustainable lifestyle.
- Go to the market with your groceries bag instead of using the plastic poly bag provided at the market.
- Wash your clothes less often and reduce the use of water.
- Use rechargeable batteries.
- Follow the three ‘R’ as a guide. That is, Reduce Reuse, and Recycle.
- Use day light as much as possible.
To attain sustainable living is a global call by the United Nations to curtail the adverse effect of our changing climate, environmental pollution, deforestation, fossil fuel use, and genetic modification. The top countries that are doing exceptionally well in the EPI 2018 chart are European countries and North America.
All these countries are developing technologies, policies and human resources to attain sustainable living. Hence, it is paramount that other countries lower in the chart follow a similar pattern to develop environmental sustainability. They can adopt the strategies provided in this article as a guide.
Countries like Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, and Burundi have low scores EPI, which suggest that lots of national effort is needed to boost their EPI. Nonetheless, these efforts are not enough to meet the standard goals because of other factors like overpopulation which affects air quality, biodiversity, and emissions.
Though the best time to act, was yesterday, the best we can do is today, but if we wait for tomorrow, it may just be too late. All hands must be in deck to see that sustainable development goals are met before the due date.
Feel free to comment what you do at home or work place, geared toward attaining a sustainable lifestyle.