Sustainable consumption: Make it instead of buying it
Do it yourself (DIY) is the in thing. Bread, deodorant or detergent: You don’t require much to make things at home. DIY products are often cheaper than the supermarket, are environmentally friendly and are fun to make.
Being a consumer was never as difficult as it is today: we generate far too much packaging waste. Many deodorants contain carcinogenic aluminium salts and cosmetics are still commonly tested on animals. While some supermarket bread may last for three weeks, it also contains many preservatives. The list could go on forever.
For consumption to be as sustainable as possible, we need to know whether a product is an eco-friendly and a fairtrade product or whether it contains substances that are harmful to people or the environment. In the supermarket this means studying the fine print on labels that list the ingredients and details of the country of origin – and that’s a science in itself.
Yet a way out of this dilemma is easier than you think: just make it yourself! Then you know exactly how the detergent has been made and whether the toy is safe for children. DIY, which frequently draws on long-standing traditions, has been popular for years. For instance, baking soda was long considered a miracle cure for grime in the house. Yet hardly anyone knows this today. And for centuries, kitchen gardens in monasteries supplied highly effective medicinal herbs; many of which have, however, been replaced by pharmaceutical drugs.
Do it yourself: many pros but also some cons
There are many advantages to DIY: you know all the ingredients and can be sure that no microplastics or mineral oils are used. A homemade vinegar cleaner cuts down on expensive manufacturing processes and generates less packaging waste. As for savings: a DIY product is often cheaper than the same product in the supermarket because usually not much is required to make it.
Of course there are also disadvantages. Homemade cosmetics often do not have a long shelf life. A jar of cream can become a breeding ground for germs and that does you more harm than good. DIY homemade beauty products should therefore be used up as quickly as possible. The consistency and fragrance may also take some getting used to – both differ from industrially manufactured products, and for good reason. Of course, it is also more time-consuming that just picking something off a supermarket shelf. But if you enjoy making things yourself, you will take this in your stride.
DIY recipes for the house, kitchen and personal care
DIY is in keeping with the spirit of the times
More and more people are opting to make things themselves. Sebastian Knecht of smarticular.net – a German ideas portal that publishes many DIY tips – has also noticed this: The idea of a simple, sustainable life is perfectly in keeping with the spirit of the times and will become a way of life for many people, sooner or later. It simply feels better than the mass consumption that the advertising industry tries to make more palatable for us at great expense. His favourite homemade product is a baking-soda deodorant cream with just three ingredients: baking soda, starch and coconut oil, and a few drops of an essential oil. “It works much better than all the deodorants that I used to use without thinking, but that always generated a great deal of waste,” he says.
There are many places where you can find DIY advice and tips
For DIY homemade cosmetics, in particular, you can find several websites, plenty of advice, tips and recipes. Online vendors offer the ingredients and accessories required, such as spray bottles, beakers or cream jars. Even cookery books offer any number of recipes for baking bread or pickling fruit and vegetables. And websites such as smarticular.net or utopia.org will give you many ideas for sustainable consumption through homemade products.
It’s in our hands to run a sustainable kitchen and a sustainable home. Making things ourselves rather than buying them is therefore definitely worth a try. The face cream may not be ideal at the first attempt, but, as the saying goes: practice makes perfect!