Sustainable All Year Round: An Interview with Dr. Erlijn van Genuchten
After writing several useful articles with tips on leading a sustainable lifestyle for IMPAKTER, Dr. Erlijn van Genuchten has sat down with us for an interview about her 365 Sustainable Decisions Challenge.
She has been sharing her progress online with her 38.8K followers, alongside building a community around finding original ways to be sustainable. Dr. van Genuchten is here to tell us what the 365 Sustainable Decisions challenge is all about, together with a reflection upon the challenges she has faced whilst doing it.
Hi Erlijn, pleased to meet you! So, I see you have been taking part in the 365 Sustainable Decisions Challenge – could you break down what this is for the readers? What does it involve?
My 365 Sustainable Decisions Challenge is a challenge that I set myself, because I wanted to live more sustainably. I also have a psychological background, and I know for me it worked better as I slowly improved certain skills. For example, living more sustainably or reaching certain goals by going slowly, rather than doing everything at once.
So, my idea was: every day for a year come up with a different idea for what I can change in my daily life to make it more sustainable.
I’m doing it myself and I’m getting close to the end – and the nice thing is, I’ve learned that other people like to live more sustainable as well. That is why I am not only doing this challenge, but I’m also sharing what I’m doing.
This is not to tell everyone to do it as well, but to give them an idea so they can decide for themselves: “Hey! I want to do that too.” Or “that doesn’t work for me” – and that’s fine of course. I offer my ideas and everyone can do what they want with them.
That’s great! My next question is: who or what inspired you to do this challenge?
Last year, in August, there was a challenge called ‘Go Green’ with my employer and they asked us to hand in ideas of how our company can become more sustainable. I started brainstorming of what I could hand in, and I came up with this idea of this challenge.
However, the challenge itself is more focused on your personal daily life, so that’s why it turned out to be a private project. But the Go Green challenge at work triggered me to brainstorm many ideas for it.
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I have seen your updates on your Twitter account of your progress and you’re so close to finishing – you’re at about 340 days – that’s amazing! Do you think you will be able to stick to the changes you have made after your challenge is over? If so, how many?
So there are many ideas I keep on doing, and I will try to keep on doing all of them. But it is not possible to do them every day; there are some ideas I can only do once. For example, putting LED bulbs in my lights – once that’s done, I don’t have to care about that anymore until I get a new light.
There are also car-related ideas, however, I seldom drive a car and I ride my bike instead. So, I can’t always do the car ones – but when I do drive a car, then of course I make sure I have them in mind.
I can keep on doing most of them; there’re only a few where I say ‘Okay, I can’t do that perfectly’ but I don’t think it is necessary to be perfect. As long as I’m doing it better than I used to do it, then that is already an improvement.
I see. What was the hardest change you had to make?
One idea that I’m not really able to continue doing, is the idea I had for flossing my teeth. I had the idea that you could use a thread instead of a plastic toothpick, but my teeth are too close together and I just can’t do that.
I almost cut my finger because I had to press down so much to get the thread in between my teeth. So I thought, before I cut my finger badly I will keep using the toothpick – however, I am still looking out for sustainable alternatives that might work better for me.
Another idea I tried and thought was good at first, was the blocks of soap for your hair – kind of like a block of shampoo – but my hair is very thick, and it just doesn’t wash my hair properly. That’s also not very helpful, so I’ve stopped using these blocks and I am looking for a new alternative. Sometimes it is simply trial and error, in order to see what works best.
What would your advice be for those who want to do the 365 Sustainable Decisions Challenge?
One thing I think is very important is to be kind with yourself and don’t expect yourself to be perfect all at once. I don’t think it is possible to be perfect, so if you focus on improving and taking small steps – that is the most important thing, and you can already make a big difference with that.
Have you got any plans or ideas of what you want to do next?
Yes, I do have a plan. But I’m not going to say what it is yet, because it is a surprise. What I can say is that when I finish the challenge, there will be a few days where I will explain what’s coming next and I will commence the plan of what’s coming next shortly afterwards.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. In the Cover Photo: Holding the Crystal Ball of Nature. Photo Credit: Piqsels.