Is the sustainable future we want as humans a dream or reality? This vital question can only be well-answered by testing the science of sustainability on the ground. In practice, both individual and collective actions are needed for transition into a future that is just and sustainable. Various women are doing incredible things around the world in different locations, fields and at different scales to milk-in sustainability benefits that are socially acceptable and enjoyable. I can confidently mention of Greta Thunberg @GretaThunberg, Ilona M. Otto @ilonamotto, Helen Clark @HelenClarkNZ, Wilfred Selby, Kamala Harris @KamalaHarris, Erlijn van Genuchten @ErlijnG, and Zanetor Agyman-Rawlings @zanetorofficial. WINS (Women In Sustainability) in the UK is another rising cadre of powerful women movement to keep eyes on as far as sustainable development by practice is concerned. In this brief text, the ultimate message is about an outstanding sustainability initiative by Erlijn van Genuchten.
Erlijn and 365 challenge
Dr Erlijn is superexcellent, innovative and digitally infosavvy woman championing and illuminating disinterested route towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including climate action. The Netherlands-based Utrecht University awarded first and second degrees to Dr Erlijn while her PhD was earned from the University of Tübingen in Germany. While pursuing my own passion and love for sustainability sciences, I came into contact with Dr Erlijn. Therein everything sparks. I noticed that instead of waiting to receive sustainable solutions packaged from elsewhere, she decided otherwise. So, in 2019, she started doing a “365 Sustainable Decisions Challenge” (365 SDC) in which she makes “another sustainable decision every day”. She believes in and bases her challenge on the premise that “a better world starts with yourself.” The 365 SDC is fast-spreading and increasingly gaining wider momentum because it is simple, creative and zero-budget effective. It responses to some of the world’s biggest challenges such as climate emergency, food waste, energy deficit and health pandemics. The 365 SDC influences hundreds of thousands every day “to live more sustainably”. I am inspired too, hence this write-up.
Examples of 365 SDC decisions
Dr Erljin publishes all of her decisions till date. A few of the top decisions she took and implemented in-between August 2019 and March 2020 are: “#12 – Drinking water from reusable instead of deposit bottle, #39 – Using net for shopping instead of taking a bag, #40 – Using hair soap instead of shampoo in a bottle, #98 – Storing bread in bee’s wrap instead of plastic bag, #103 – Watering plants with remaining water instead of pouring it away, #124 – Bringing my own cup to the coffee machine, #128 – Creating compost bin from sustainable materials instead of buying plastic one, #141 – Drinking water instead of soft drink”. It is good to look out for her new book, which was published less than 24hrs ago and is available on Amazon.
Climate action dimension
Two of her decisions closely linked and contributed to cutting emissions are the “#71 – Shopping by bike instead of by car” and “#68 – Traveling by train instead of plane for inland journeys”. By these decisions, she was able to avoid leaving carbon footprints through the public or private transport system. If the total carbon emissions done away with by Dr Erlijn and the followers of the 365 SDC are economically calculated, the outcome can be in excess of giga tonnes. She says “together we can achieve more”, which I concurs. In introducing her twitter handle, she remarks “I’m here to leave a huge, positive footprint in this world.” With what Dr Erljin has unravellingly achieved so far, I have absolutely no doubt that she is acting on the “walk the talk” mantra of limiting emissions in her small ways for a bigger global impacts.
Sharing decisions for replicably opportunities
Dr Erljin clearly exhibits the character of an exceptional global citizen who has people and planet at heart. She willingly shares her ideas, methods and principles through multiple digital platforms. She reveals her intentions and other information to stimulate all those who come her ways, and are willing to replicate the 365 SDC at no cost. It will be pleasing to visit: http://www.SustainableDecisions.eu.
Taking sustainability to the world
By inspiring people “to adopt a sustainable lifestyle” and publishing details of the 365 SDC for everyone to have a feel of it, Dr Erlijn is significantly helping to spread the message of sustainability and SDGs to reach the world.
One of the appealling features of Dr Erlijn’s 365 SDC is that, she has not prescribed behaviours, values or decisions for anyone. The 365 SDC is generically adaptive and readjustable. Everyone can adopt it to suit his or her own circumstances. Thus, the choice entirely depends on an individual.
From the first day I came into contact with Dr Erljin, she has been ingeniously wonderful. How does she come up with a new decision every day? She demonstrates intelligent and fantastic commitment to the SDGs and sustainability by changing her personal behaviours to positively correct system errors in the larger society. As simple as the her solutions are, I found them inexplicably relevant in the context of science-based propositions and interventions suggested in a research paper that recently appeared in the Sustainability Science domain of the PNAS on “Social tipping dynamics for stabilising the Earth’s climate by 2050“. This paper demands large-scale structural and technological transformation alongside dynamic societal change to accelerate rapid emissions reduction for stabilising the troubled climate. It proposes six concrete social tipping interventions (STIs) necessary to achieve a zero carbon society. For the six STIs, especially “building carbon-neutral cities” and “strengthening climate education and engagement”, I think that the rippling effects of the 365 SDC model from Dr Erlijn is partly matched. Dr Erlijn has been optimistic and impressive in communicating and practicalising behavioural change by taking sustainable lifestyle decisions daily. Greener decisions that have nothing to do with fossil fuel, and which people would normally ignore. There is ample evidence that the 365 SDC is in the interest of our collective efforts to achieve SDGs, restore and sustain a thriving planet to support happiest people. This text is not merely to eulogize but an urgent call to join a great action to actualise and expand the unique social innovation started by Dr Erlijn to make the world a better and sustainable place for all now and in the future.