City living to save the planet

Nowadays, more and more people are realizing they need to make urgent changes to their lifestyle in order to save the planet. But can one person make a difference? Ryan Gong believes they can. After he graduated from the University of Nantes, he went back to his native China to work at an advertising company in Guangzhou. He practices a green lifestyle daily, for example, using less packaging and go for public transportation. But he describes himself as an “environmentally responsible citizen” rather than a professional environmentalist. Ryan said:

“I always keep my eyes on the issues of social responsibility, so of course environmental protection is part of it. To be honest, this kind of lifestyle has become part of life, it’s very natural. My family also has a long-term philosophy of being good to the earth, so I just keep these habits.”

He says: “There are many daily things which are environmentally friendly we could do in daily life.” As a commuter, he chooses to take the metro to go to work every day, even though driving cars could save as three times as much time as travelling by metro. According to the statistics, switching to the metro cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 76% per passenger mile compared to driving cars. What’s more, Ryan will use the time on the metro to check emails, read electronic books, or just get a little more shut-eye.

“Taking public transportation creates more extra time and saves money for me, and it could reduce energy emissions meanwhile. It’s really terrific, isn’t it?” Ryan said.

Besides, Ryan also has his own rules for shopping. When he goes to the supermarket, the first thing he will do is bringing his own canvas bag, which can be reused for many times. Although grabbing a plastic bag at the register is convenient, plastic waste causes serious environmental problems. By the year 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from all those plastic products could exceed 56 gigatons. In addition, Ryan will collect all the sustainable packaging bags from online or offline parcels to use it for storage or carrying. And he will make a plan before shopping to avoid a cart overloaded with items that will ultimately end up in the trash, leading to food waste.

Ryan’s grocery shopping. Photo by: Ryan Gong

Ryan thinks although personal effort could not change the whole environment, it’s still important to the whole society.

“As an individual, I believe those daily things are all we can do for the environment and the society, even though they seem insignificant. But when you are doing this, you will inspire the people around you.”

Ryan doesn’t think the COVID-19 outbreak changed his lifestyle a lot. “Actually, life became easier as I didn’t have to go out. I get more time to think how to practice my environmentally responsible concepts in a better way.” And he also suggests that during the pandemic period, one good thing is that less energy is used and less food wasted because of the “stay at home” order.

The sustainable packaging bags from online parcel Ryan collected during pandemic. Photo by: Ryan Gong

Saving the earth sounds like a huge and impossible task, but if everyone switches a little bit to a more sustainable lifestyle, over time, these small changes will add up to a big impact on the environment. As Ryan said:

“I think the point is not how much you contribute to the whole environment, is whether you are doing it. Like my favorite line says: “Do it, no matter how insignificant it seems.”


Lastly, five stylish and modern tips to live greener:

Keep the car at home and walk it off. You can sneak more foot action into your daily routine and cut down on carbon emissions in the process.
Keep track of trash. Start logging a weekly record of your trash, over time, you can start to see patterns, and tweak your shopping habits accordingly.
Carry your cups when you go cafes. As just one example, Starbucks blows through 8,000 paper cups a minute, which adds up to more than 4 billion cups a year. Here’s where toting a travel cup can make a big difference and you even could get extra discount.
Ditch Single-Use Disposables. If you’re ordering takeout at home, there’s no need to get plastic forks and knives. Use your own silverware.
Recycle, reuse. Think of the juice bottles or peanut butter jar as free containers to store the rice and nuts, or to hoard all the extra pennies you saved by recycling.

Author: Jialu Yin

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