Our sustainability journeys

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How do young people in the UK & Germany live sustainably? What are they trying to do more (or less) of? And what are their hopes for a greener future?

Two participants from our Youth Webinar Series ‘Sustainability’ share their thoughts…

A passion for sustainability

Franziska: Vor dem Webinar habe ich mich bereits mit Nachhaltigkeit im Allgemeinen beschäftigt, zum Beispiel durch verschiedene Podcasts oder Bücher. Ich hatte bisher allerdings noch kein Wissen über und keine Kontake zu Menschen aus dem Vereinigten Königreich.

Freya: Personally, I have always felt passionately about looking after the environment. In recent years we’ve begun to see a huge information wave about the importance of sustainability, that has come with our generation listening and building on the information that has been sitting at our feet for decades now.

Knowledge is power

Freya: During the webinars, I learnt a lot about different resources, and that sustainability is accessible beyond just Depop. From the expert workshop, I learnt just how astoundingly damaging the fashion industry is. What may seem harmless on a personal level can simply be catastrophic. We as consumers, really need to grasp the power we hold in our wallets and use that as a force for change, investing in fashion that lasts and not letting cheap trends hypnotise us.

Franziska: Wir haben uns alle eine Challenge gestellt, um unseren Alltag nachhaltiger zu gestalten, zum Beispiel eine vegetarische oder vegane Woche oder ein “Online-Shopping-Verbot”. Dabei fand ich es interessant, wie viele Organisationen und Möglichkeiten es gibt, um beispielsweise Lebensmittelverschwendung zu vermeiden, die meist in beiden Ländern ähnlich sind.

Comparisons and connections

Freya: Something I found that was slightly different from a German perspective was a clearer societal openness to inclusive events – like flea markets or clothing ‘swap’ meets, that I know people wouldn’t be as comfortable in participating with here in the UK, but I would definitely like to see more of.

One thing that did surprise me however, was how similar our countries’ actions on sustainability actually were. I think I definitely had a “grass is greener” type of image for sustainability in Germany but what was clear is that we both have a way to go. If we share those resources and ideas together, the journey to sustainability will be a much easier one.

Franziska: Ich finde es besonders schön, dass ich jetzt mit mehreren Teilnehmer/-innen über die sozialen Medien Kontakt habe und mich mit ihnen austauschen kann. So kann ich auch nach dem Webinar noch etwas über das Leben im Vereinigten Königreich lernen.

Small steps to a greener self

Franziska: Einige der Tipps von den Webinaren konnte ich auch in meinen Alltag einbauen, zum Beispiel nutze ich nun eine App, über welche man Lebensmittelreste “retten” kann. So kann ich meinen Alltag noch nachhaltiger gestalten als vor dem Webinar. Ich ernähre mich seit mehr als einem Jahr vegetarisch, und im Rahmen der Challenge habe ich neue vegane Rezepte ausprobiert und meinen Plastikverbrauch im Badezimmer auf feste Shampoos und ähnliche Produkte reduziert.

We are all influencers in our own right and should act on the change we want to see

Freya: I am now definitely more conscious of where I buy things from, using platforms like „good on you“ to put just that moments extra thought into purchases. I am definitely going to try and buy more second-hand in the future and maybe learn more ways to repair and look at tired material as a an upcycle project, not just something destined for landfill.

I want to have more conversations with my friends and family about what we buy and encourage each other to buy for the long-term. I think it actually shows that you have a greater sense of personal style if you can establish timeless pieces, worth wearing more than twice – even if they cost more to begin with.

Our hopes for the future…

Franziska: Ich hoffe, dass diese Thematik noch viel wichtiger in unserem Alltag wird, so dass mehr Menschen auf eine nachhaltigere Lebensweise achten. Meiner Meinung nach ist es auch wichtig, auf das Thema “sustainable for less”, also auf günstige nachhaltige Optionen, zu achten, wie zum Beispiel Fair Fashion.

Freya: I hope that we can push for more movement on a governmental scale, as unfortunately we need momentum from that level to make the changes needed. Personally, I hope to keep discovering new resources from my peers and to continue to meet “gleichgesinnte Menschen“, and tell others about how impactful we all are as individuals. Education is the root of change and I hope we can collectively plant some more of those roots across the UK, Germany and beyond…