What they do …

7. Aafke

You might wonder where I find all these inspiring people and stories, but it’s simple: I’m part of a pretty big family. 🙂 Today I’ll give the floor to my little sister Aafke. She wrote a letter with some tips and tricks; things she does on a daily basis. It’s very practical (which we like in our family 🙂 ).

So, Aafke, my (not so little anymore) little sister is the biggest animal lover I know. She looked after some ‘homeless’ donkeys on Bonaire a couple of years ago, and now she takes pity on everything with paws on a daily basis. Besides that, she is very generous and secretly very sweet, although she thinks she hides that last fact pretty well with her cool appearance. Way back when, when we were all little, she would share all her pepernoten (Dutch candy) with Imke & me, while we’d already eaten our own portion. I think I like her. 😉

Enjoy her letter and take notes! By the way, she wrote her letter in Dutch, so if you’re able to read Dutch, I’d really recommend you read the original version instead of my translation.

“Hi there,
My name is Aafke and I’ve been living together with my boyfriend for about a year. Ever since we first moved in together, we have been trying to be more aware of our expenses: not buying the most expensive brands, turning off the heat and lights when we’re not home, et cetera. It’s not just about saving money, but for us, it’s also about saving the planet. Like my sister (and probably many others), I’m convinced a better world is our own responsibility.

In this letter I want to share with you a couple of examples for a ‘better world at home’:

1. We’ve changed all our light bulbs to LED. It cost us about 50 euros [75 Canadian Dollars], but we’re convinced it won’t be long before we profit from this investment.

Standby-power use is responsible for roughly 1 percent of global CO2 emissions.

2. Every evening we unplug our boiler (which is for heating water as well as heating the house). That’s because we don’t need warm water during nighttime and on weekdays we’re only home and awake for about 45 minutes each morning. This means our boiler is only running during the evenings on weekdays.
[You should check if you’re system is ok with this, not all systems can handle being switched on and off so often. A lot of systems do have a ‘comfort’ function, which means the boiler is always filled with hot water and the boiler is running every now and then to keep that water hot. You can change this setting, so that there is only hot water on demand, which will save a lot of energy, especially when you don’t need a lot of hot water during the day.]


3. Besides our boiler, we try to keep as many devices unplugged as possible. The fact that standby-power use is responsible for roughly 1 percent of global CO2 emissions, shocked me. So we pull the plugs of appliances and laptops when we turn them off.
[See the blog post ‘Pull the Plug’ for more information on this subject.]
We’re not perfect, but every time we get it right, counts.

4. Separating and recycling waste: plastic, glass, organic waste, paper and toxic waste (like batteries) are all recyclable. That’s also the main reason why we only have about one full bag of garbage every two weeks, sometimes even less! The less waste goes into landfills the better, plus, we pay per garbage bag, so it’s cheaper too.

5. We like to donate clothing and items we don’t use to our local thrift store. Over the past one and a half years, we’ve moved a lot and every time I was amazed by the amount of stuff we’d collected. So every time we had to move, I sorted out our belongings and donated all unnessecary items. The next time we move, I hope there will be less stuff to drag with us. 🙂

All these changes are small, but every small step helps. I hope these tips will inspire you to take some steps of your own. Your bank account and the environment will be very grateful!