Interview with new Kiel residents on the subject of sustainability.
The bicycle or the car, the vegetables or the meat, the plastic or the cloth bags; the choices we make every day have a long-term impact on our quality of life. The population is growing all the time, so the issue of sustainability takes an important place day by day. Sustainability means maintaining the quality of life we live in for as long as possible and using energy sources wisely. It also guarantees the right of future generations to benefit from natural resources.
We, the editorial team of K.I.E.L. – ‘’Das Kiel journal’’, have therefore decided to dedicate this issue to the topic of sustainability, which may be a new topic for many new citizens of Kiel.
Simple things in our daily lives make resources last longer. And they can also free us from additional costs. This prompted us to find out the opinions of new Kiel residents with a migration background on the topic of “sustainability”.
Everyone has a unique attitude and way of dealing with the issue. However, they all agree on preventing the waste of resources, thinking about the future of succeeding generations and encouraging them to live sustainably.
Do you go along with the idea of preventing water and electricity waste?
Rashed from Syria: Water is an essential element that guarantees the duration of life. The conditions of climate change and permanent pollution from industry lead to a lack of safe sources of drinking and clean water. We need to be as careful as possible to conserve water.
Electricity is an important source of energy that we use in our daily lives permanently . Although renewable energies (such as wind and solar power plants) are being greatly expanded, most energy needs are met with fossil fuels. This means that an increase in electricity consumption leads to an increase in their production. And that means more pollution from fossil fuels. In my opinion, we should stop wasting water and electricity and limit climate change to sustain our way of life.
Muaaz from Yemen: Tap water and electricity cost a lot of money, of course. In my opinion, this measure by the German government contributes to saving water and electricity. Our knowledge about the dangers of water and energy shortages makes us strongly participate in avoiding waste. I am always interested in saving water and electricity in my house and I make my children aware of this problem.
Amena from Palestine: I think it is natural for a person to stop for a moment and think about what is going on around them: from the waste of natural resources to climate change. Of course, my family and I are interested in preventing the waste of water and electricity. We think it is necessary for everyone in society to prevent the waste of natural resources. And beyond that, the costs reduce.
Abdien from Syria: Water and electricity are two sources we cannot do without in our daily lives. But their production requires a lot of energy, which damages the environment. Therefore, it is particularly important not to waste water or electricity.
How do you deal with food?
Rashed: I try to buy food that I need for a whole week as often as possible. Or, as much as I need, so that I don’t have to throw it away and pay more money. I try to use it all up. And when some of the things in my fridge have gone bad, I compost them and use them as fertilizer in my garden.
Muaaz: We usually cook at home for lunch, but sometimes the food exceeds our needs. So, we keep it in the fridge and eat it on the second day.
Amena: I try not to cook too much if possible. If we do have too much, we just eat the dish again later.
Abdien: I buy food and groceries every week that can be kept in the fridge for a long time. But I buy vegetables, fruits and perishable food when I need them.
Do you prefer vegetables or meat?
Rashed: The best thing is to have a balance between eating meat and vegetables. Therefore, the amount of meat and vegetables I eat is about the same. Because every person has their own tastes to which they have become accustomed. And the body needs a varied diet to get vitamins and minerals. I prefer chicken to red meat because the negative impact on the climate is less.
Muaaz: More meat than vegetables. Probably it depends on what we got used to at a young age. I tend to eat more meat than vegetables.
Amena : We consume more vegetables because my little boy doesn’t eat meat. So, our meat consumption is less.
Abdien: Actually, I eat meat and vegetables, but I prefer vegetables. I think people should reduce their meat consumption to reduce animal suffering. We should also reduce air pollution from methane gas produced by cows by a substantial percentage.
Do you use plastic bags when shopping? What are the reasons? Plastic or alternative products?
Rashed: I avoid plastic bags as much as possible, although in some cases it is necessary. But I prefer to use cloth bags or recycled bags. I can then use them for a longer time.
Muaaz: I don’t use plastic bags. I try to take bags that I can use for a longer time as often as possible.
Amena: I use plastic bags for rubbish, but when I buy things, I prefer to use cloth bags.
Abdien: I rarely use plastic bags because I am aware of the extent of their environmental damage. Also, simply because they take an exceptionally long time to decompose. In contrast, there are many alternatives that can be used. I personally make do with cloth bags.
Do you sort rubbish? What do you think about it?
Rashed: When I arrived in Germany 6 years ago, I found that sorting rubbish was part of my daily routine. I followed this routine, which sometimes bothered me, without realising the real purpose behind it. But now I sort rubbish without complaints. This is because I am aware of the purpose of sorting rubbish. It helps to reduce the amount of energy used for recycling.
Muaaz: Yes, I sort rubbish, which helps to recycle what can be recycled.
Amena: I sort rubbish regularly as it prevents the waste of useful materials. And additionally reduces the consumption of new raw materials and pollution.
Abdien: I sort the rubbish. I think it is an incredibly good idea. This way some of the rubbish can be reused.
Do you use a bicycle? If not, what means of transport do you use and why?
Rashed: My field of work requires a lot of muscle power, so I can’t ride my bike after I finish my daily work. Therefore, I often use the car. But I like to ride the bike on holiday and when the weather is nice.
Muaaz: I don’t use a bicycle because I can’t ride due to my pain in my hip joints. So, I use public transport. But I encourage my children to use the bicycle.
Amena: I only use the bicycle for sport and to pass the time. I use public transport (bus and train) because my work and home are extremely far from each other.
Abdien: I don’t need a bike on normal days because my work is nearby. That’s why I prefer to walk. I use the car for long distances because it saves me a lot of time and effort.
What do you think about sustainability? How important is sustainability in Kiel?
Rashed: Sustainability is especially important in German society. While this issue is not considered a priority in underdeveloped countries that are torn apart by war and suffer from poor living conditions and water and electricity shortages.
During my stay in Germany, I initially had a very naive idea about sustainability. But we as a human community need more awareness about it. In my opinion, local authorities should encourage industrial and commercial activities to take more steps towards sustainability. To save water and energy, companies should change the way they present their products to consumers. Maybe some kind of competition for the least amount of waste produced or something.
Muaaz: Our lifestyle here today determines how our children and future generations will live.
Amena: I support the idea of improving the quality of life with natural resources more and more consciously. This means sustainability in the sense of recycling or conserving available resources and avoiding waste.
Abdien: Sustainability is a great idea. I hope we can apply it in our daily lives to reduce the pollution that contributes to the destruction of our planet. I support the idea of Kiel’s city centre becoming car-free.
Perhaps you think you alone are not able to save the world. Yes, that’s true. But even small changes you make can help reduce pollution. Every contribution, no matter how small, helps to preserve our world and that of our children in the future.