24 things you can do in 24 hours to save the world

Earth Day
CC BY 2.0 Sweet Chili Arts/flickr

Written by the thinkers at the Copenhagen-based think tank, Sustainia

What if we were sitting on the answers to the world’s most pressing challenges, from food security to water scarcity and everything in between? The truth is, we are.

Every year, the Sustainia100 – produced by green think tank Sustainia – showcases the top 100 solutions to the world’s most intractable problems. These solutions are sourced from all over the world, and are selected on the basis of them being available, sustainable, viable and scalable to people in a variety of locations. In short, the solutions we need for a sustainable future are already available today.

This Earth Day, we’re helping people get back to individual action because we believe that small acts help big movements. But small acts don’t have to mean sacrifice – we know there are some incredible solutions, whether they’re gadgets, services, products or concepts that give you more, not less, whilst improving the planet for everyone.

Here are 24 things people all over the world could personally do to make the world a cleaner, greener and fairer place in 24 hours:

1. If you live in Europe, set your morning alarm and check for updates using the world’s only sustainably and conflict-free produced mobile, Fairphone.

2. Get going with a shower from Orbital systems. The shower increases comfort and hygiene while saving up to 90% water and 80% energy. It’ll also save you money, with an estimated $8,707 per year:

3. Make a fruit salad for breakfast and help combat food waste, using "ugly" produce which would otherwise end up in landfill.

4. Get dressed in a pair of Nudie Jeans, which pledge to mend them for free if you get a tear, rather than you having to chuck them for a new pair.

5. Or have a total wardrobe makeover with Tonle – a clothing manufacturer and retailer based in Cambodia that creates zero-waste collections out of surplus fabric and sells them across Asia, Europe and North America:

6. If you’ve got small kids, think about getting them dressed with a closed-loop fashion retailer like VIGGA. They will lease you clothes which are the right size for your growing kid, and then take them back to reuse with another family once yours has grown out of them. (There are similar services in the States; other options include children's clothing consignment shops or parent group clothing swaps.)

7. And if you’ve got babies, then swap out their regular disposable diaper for a biodegradable nappy instead.

8. Get to work or school on a bike – it’s easy to get the wheels you need with a global bike-sharing app. But if you want to invest in your own, why not try a bamboo bike – these ones are built in Ghana using a fantastically fast-growing and sustainable material, and sold all over the world.

9. If you need to drive, why not sign up to an electric vehicle sharing scheme like Autolib, Cummunauto, as a way of helping limit the number of gas-guzzling cars on the roads?

10. Do you have a screensaver on your computer? You can change it for the World Community Grid and let the processing power of your computer be available to researchers working on humanitarian projects.

11. If you wear a uniform at work, swap it out for something sustainable from Dutch aWEARness or Waste2Wear.

12. Keen to increase your skills and get some professional development for the future of work? Why not join an online community and use Khan Academy’s YouTube-based online learning.

13. Make a salad for lunch using leafy greens grown in a local version of an urban farm with closed-loop irrigation, such as Singapore’s vertical urban farm Sky Greens.

14. Use your lunch hour to plan your next holiday, and book a week in one of the many eco lodges around the world which preserve local habitat and leave no trace.

15. For dinner ingredients, find a supermarket like Orginal Unverpackt in Berlin, where everything is “unpacked and unwrapped” which helps significantly reduce plastic waste. Alternatively, shop for items at a farmer's market or in bulk at your local natural foods store.

16. Or use OpenLabel on your smartphone in any store, to get information about the sustainability of the product just by scanning the barcode.

17. Run your errands and get things fixed at one of more than 1,000 repair cafés around the world, where staff will help you get the advice and assistance you need.

18. Instead of buying a present for a loved one's birthday, why not make something from scratch instead? Head to your local Fab Lab, found in over 67 countries, to get hold of high quality equipment – including 3D printers – free of charge. (See other DIY resources here.)

19. If you need a snack to keep you going before dinner, grab a handful of hazelnuts grown by farmers in Bhutan as a way of reforesting eroded land and bringing employment to poor communities. Alternatively, support a local nut grower by snacking on nuts from a nearby orchard.

20. If you have your period, women can swap out a regular tampon for the Ruby Cup, which is a reusable menstrual cup that can be used for up to 10 years, thereby reducing the number of unsustainable sanitary items making their way to landfill.

21.Invite your friends over in the evening for a clothes swapping party: Swishing.

22. Serve up something delicious to eat that replaces meat and animal products with sustainable plant proteins.

23. Ditch your costly daily vitamin supplements and use the Lucky Iron Fish, which adds iron to your food when you cook with it. More than 3 billion people are affected by iron deficiency all over the world.

24. And when you finally turn off the lights for a great night’s sleep, power your house throughout the night with solar power from the day using Tesla’s Powerwall.

You can find out more about each of these solutions – and 76 more – in the Sustainia100 or follow @Sustainia

24 things you can do in 24 hours to save the world
Because small acts help big movements.

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