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Climate protection in practice

Hand im Kräuterbeet
Image: Stefan Körber – Fotolia.com

Welcome to the climate protection tip of the month! Climate protection made easy: Starting in spring 2019, a new tip awaits you here every month on how you can pay attention to climate protection and sustainability in everyday (office) life, even in small, simple things.

Climate Protection Tip No. 14 - Green Holidays

Vierter Advent
Image: Ramona Heim - Fotolia.com

Ho Ho Ho – The holidays are imminent. There are many possibilities to reduce your ecological footprint when celebrating the festival of love. This month we would like to present you some ideas for this:

Christmas Tree, My Christmas Tree

Every year about 30.000.000 Christmas trees are sold in Germany. Most of them come from monocultures, are heavily fertilized and treated with pesticides. This pollutes not only water, soil and animals, but also humans. Hence, we do not get a beautiful piece of nature, but chemistry into our home. Many of the trees, such as the popular Nordmann fir, are imported from the northern EU countries. As a result of transport additional greenhouse gases are produced.

But there are ecofriendly alternatives:

  • How about an organic Christmas tree with the appropriate label? The environmental association Robin Wood provides a list of organic Christmas tree suppliers.
  • There is also the possibility of renting Christmas trees in Berlin. You can find more information on: weihnachtsbaum-mitte.de.
  • No alternative, however, is a plastic tree: it is produced from crude oil and often imported from Asia, consuming a lot of greenhouse gases. Although it can be used for several years, it takes more than 20 years to pay off ecologically. Until then, however, most plastic trees will be unsightly and ultimately disposed of prematurely.
  • Those who like it quite originally can completely renounce the Christmas tree: The original Christian gift tree was a deciduous tree branch. With a little creativity it will become a festive “Christmas tree”.

Traditionally, nuts, dried fruit, cookies or natural materials can be used to decorate your tree – and nibbled away later. Not only children enjoy making Christmas tree decorations from paper, straw or wood – the result: beautiful individual decorations, time together and anticipation for the festival of love.

All I Want For Christmas

Gift wrapping paper looks nice, but it is not ecologically sensible due to its short life and the materials used.

There are some nice ideas to increase tension more ecofriendly:

  • Reusable Christmas bags save resources and money.
  • An amusing surprise is also provided when the desired gift is hidden in an old packaging box, a cookie box for example.
  • Gifts for your loved ones can also be given with recycled paper. It can be individually painted and covered with natural materials.
  • Fabric tapes can be used several times and save adhesive tape.

Santa Claus is coming to town

As nice as it is when our wishes are read from our eyes, we often receive gifts that do not please us and are quickly disposed of in the worst case – it is a pity about the resources needed for the present on its way to the Christmas tree. A wish list saves a lot of headaches – and the person receiving the gift will not be disappointed with an unloved gift.

More gift ideas for a green Christmas:

  • If the gifts are regionally and/or fairly manufactured, undimmed joy prevails under the Christmas tree.
  • Even more Christmas spirit arises, if the gifts are not acquired online, but comfortably in the local shops. This saves greenhouse gases and supports regional traders.
  • How about a joint venture for Christmas? Time spent together is particularly valuable, especially in times of communication via text messages and social media.
  • Also donations, for example animal or plant sponsorships are meaningful gifts, which take no place away.

We wish you happy holidays!

More climate protection tips

Müllsack und grüne Pfeile aus Gras. Recycling-Konzept
Image: SectoR_2010 - depositphotos.com

The #Abfallfreitag (WasteFreeDay) of the BSR is coming up again: On November 11, 2020 it focuses on the topics waste avoidance and separation. Those issues are also important for climatic protection. For this reason, this month’s climate protection tip deals with the topic of waste separation in offices and households.

Climate protection with waste

Basically: Waste prevention is more important than waste separation – suggestions for waste prevention can be found below in Climate Protection Tipp 8.

The one who separates the unavoidable wastes, however, makes the simple recovery of valuable materials possible and thus a reduction of the greenhouse gas output. After all, the production of new raw materials releases significantly more greenhouse gases than the recycling of materials. If, for example, 1 t of plastic is newly produced from crude oil, an average of 1.7 t of CO2 equivalents are required, whereas the use of recycled material requires approx. 0.966 t – a saving of about 44 % in greenhouse gases! This was the result of a Fraunhofer study commissioned by the ALBA Group.

Cardboard/ paper waste: Paper is not equal to paper

The separation of paper and cardboard in the blue garbage can is most successful and the cleanest fraction in Germany. However, there is still room for improvement: dirty paper (such as greasy pizza boxes), thermal paper (such as sales receipts), coated paper (such as photos) and hygiene paper (handkerchiefs and disposable tissues) belong in the residual waste.

Packaging waste

In Berlin, plastic/ metal and composite materials can be disposed of in the yellow or orange recycling garbage can, regardless of whether they are packaging or other objects of the same composition. However, glass and paper packaging is correctly disposed of separately; this also applies to electronic waste.

Organic waste

Organic waste is disposed of in the brown garbage can and is very valuable for biofuel production or it is composted. Spread old newsprint paper in the garbage can, this can then also be disposed of in the organic waste. Please do not use plastic bags!

Important to know: The thing with the bio-waste bags

Many manufacturers have been promoting compostable waste bags for some time now. These are therefore often used for organic waste. However, they are often only completely biodegradable under laboratory conditions. In addition, at least in Berlin, these bags may not be disposed of together with the biological waste: They interfere with the separation process, as the plants cannot distinguish between compostable and conventional waste bags. However, if you still have biodegradable waste bags unused at home, they are good for disposing of residual waste. They also do not belong into the recycling garbage can.

Last but not least: residuals

In addition to the already mentioned dirty and coated papers and tissues, the black garbage can for residual waste can be used to dispose of the remaining household waste, for instance ashes, diapers, crockery, mirror and window glass as well as animal litter.

For more information on waste Fridays and waste separation, see

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Eine kleine Schauffel und eine Harke liegen neben 3 Blumentöpfen auf dunkler Blumenerde
Image: © M. Schuppich/fotolia.de

Green mini oases – house plants enlighten our everyday life especially in the dark season – also in the office. They have positive effects on the psyche, air humidity and contribute even to the reduction of the pollutant load in the room.
Even an important contribution to climate protection is possible by providing our green fellows in the garden, room and on the balcony with the appropriate plant substrate. Most of them consist of up to 90 % of peat, which comes from bogs. And bogs are very important for climate protection:

Small Area – Big Effect

One square meter of peat stores on average 20 times as much carbon as a forest area of the same size. Thus, bogs are important carbon sinks. If they are drained, large amounts of CO₂ and nitrous oxide escape – in Germany this is the cause of 2.5% to 5% of the total national greenhouse gas emissions. With the rewetting of bog sites, 4 – 15.5 tons of CO₂ equivalents per hectare could be saved annually.
By the way, bogs are also worth protecting for other reasons: They have, for example, a positive effect on the water balance, on water quality and are habitats for many, including rare animal and plant species.

Positive Peat-free Pots

Hence, when you take care to buy only peat-free plant substrates, you actively protect the climate. What do they consist of instead? Compost, wood fibers, clay minerals or lava granules are used as alternatives for peat. BUND e.V., for example, provides a list of suppliers of peat-free potting substrates. Enjoy your green roommates!

For more information on the benefits of bogs and the peat they contain, please visit:

Sources:

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Die bösen Augen - Augen einer Eule
Image: vladvitek/Depositphotos.com

Whether it is currently for health protection or due to other obligations: Sometimes it is not easy to actively engage oneself in climate protection. In the climate protection tip of the month we introduce you to a way of simply setting a sign for climate protection – even without attending face-to-face events – and how you can follow up this example with action: Because on 28.03.2020, 20:30 – 21:30 o’clock
it is time again for: “Lights off, climate protection on”

For the 14th time the WWF initiates:

The Earth Hour

It was on 31 March 2007 in Australia. 2.2 million households switched of the lights for one hour at the same time – voluntarily! They set an example for climate protection and against unnecessary waste of energy. It was the first Earth Hour, initiated by the WWF. Since 2008, this campaign has established itself as a global event. Today, more than 180 nations take part every year. In Germany, 260 locations have already announced their participation this year, including Berlin. You can find out more about Earth Hour on the website of the WWF.

In Berlin as well

Anyone wishing to take part in the campaign has the opportunity to announce this on the website of the WWF website. Participation is open to everyone: private households, companies, local authorities. On Berlin.de you can find out more about Earth Hour in Berlin.

Does Earth Hour make any sense for the climate?

Even if Earth Hour is mainly symbolic in nature – when lights are switched off, electricity is saved. Compared to other electricity consumption, however, this saving is negligible. Nevertheless, this hour is not in vain. The greater the participation, the more likely it is that more decision makers, companies and people will be motivated to rethink and …

…Act

There are numerous ways to avoid unnecessary waste of electricity. Three of them are listed below. Read more tips on CO2online.

Obtaining electricity from renewable sources

With electricity from renewable energies alone you do not reduce your electricity consumption, but you do reduce the associated greenhouse gas emissions. Quite often it is even cheaper than conventional electricity. There are platforms on the Internet that list the best green electricity providers: e.g. utopia.de or EcoTopTen.de.
As a regional and municipal direct supplier the Berliner Stadtwerke offer green electricity.

Switch off unused electrical equipment, avoid standby mode

Small lights on unused electrical appliances usually indicate unnecessary use of electricity: standby mode. These are usually small amounts per device. However, significant savings can be made when several affected appliances are completely disconnected from power supply. When buying a new appliance, better buy one that has a direct switch for this purpose. Power strips that can be switched off are handy when several devices have to be disconnected at the same time.

Using LEDs

LEDs require 90 % less electricity than conventional light bulbs and are much more environmentally friendly than energy-saving lamps. Although the latter also achieve 80% electricity savings, they contain mercury and belong in hazardous waste after use. LEDs are somewhat more expensive to buy, but it is worth it because of their long life of approx. 50,000 operating hours. Energy-saving lamps, on the other hand, reach approx. 10,000 hours. And nobody has to live without a cosy warm white light – LEDs are available in a wide range of light colours. Learn more about this on Lampe.de.
If you only use as many lamps as are really necessary, you save energy most efficiently. This helps the environment not only in terms of greenhouse gas emissions: numerous living creatures whose life cycles are often seriously disturbed by artificial light sources benefit as well.

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Steak auf einem Grill
Image: © stockcreations - Fotolia.com

Many levers can be set in motion with food. It is well known that a balanced diet contributes significantly to health. But did you know that it can also significantly reduce greenhouse gases? Meat consumption has the greatest potential for this – even without going vegetarian or even vegan.

For the sake of health

According to DGE data (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung), a maximum of 300 – 600 g of meat should be consumed per week. Those who follow these recommendations reduce, among other things, the risk of developing cancer. Cardiovascular diseases and diabetes can also be the result of excessive meat consumption. In Germany, however, people currently consume about twice as much meat as recommended.

Three for the price of one

In addition to the health benefits of consuming meat in moderation, it also contributes to climate protection, since livestock farming releases a significant amount of greenhouse gases, especially nitrous oxide and methane.
The production of animal products also requires much more resources (e.g. water, land) than plant products – according to a WWF study 70% of grain cultivation worldwide is used to produce feed for farm animals. These resources could therefore be reduced and used for other purposes – e.g. food production, reforestation…

Avoid food waste

Due to the high consumption of resources and greenhouse gas emissions, unnecessary food waste from meat is especially regrettable. For example, land consumption could be significantly reduced: If end consumers in Germany would stop disposing of all kinds of food unnecessarily, an area of arable land about the size of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern could be saved, according to the WWF.

Less beef, more organic and regional meat

The greenhouse gas emissions for the production of meat depend on the type of animal and the type of farming. Cattle farming is the most unfavourable for the climate due to the high feed consumption and methane emissions. Meat from organic production is more resource-saving and environmentally friendly than meat from conventional farming. The reason for this, for example, is the requirement to use mainly regional feed. The use of mineral fertilisers and synthetic pesticides is also avoided. Those who also pay attention to the regional nature of their meat save greenhouse gas emissions during transport.

Simply calculate

With the Meat Calculator it is possible to calculate how much greenhouse gases can be saved by consuming less meat. Further information is also provided there.

Try it out

More side dishes and less meat is initially the simplest way to reduce meat consumption. However, a full-fledged diet is also quite possible without meat: for example, red beans, nuts, chickpeas and tempeh are well suited for daily protein requirements. Calcium is also found in linseed, poppy seeds, almonds, kale and chickpeas.
Vitamin B12 is somewhat more difficult to find, as it is mainly found in animal products. Vegetarians who do not eat meat, but do eat milk and/or egg products, can cover their needs well. Those with a vegan diet, completely without animal products, are dependent on substitute products in the long run.
There are great cook books and also in the Internet delicious ideas can be found: Some examples you will find below.
When it comes to lunch, most gastronomic establishments also offer vegetarian alternatives now: For example, the restaurant in the Rathaus Schöneberg offers tasty vegetarian and sometimes even vegan meals every day. There even is a even 20 % discount for employees. Bon appetite!

If you would like to learn more about the topic “Meat and climate protection”:

Tips on vegetarian and vegan nutrition, etc:

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Heizungsregler, Taschenrechner und Geldstücke
Image: Wolfgang-S - Fotolia.com

Did you know? About 70% of the energy consumed inside is used for heating Less energy consumption means less greenhouse gas emissions and saves money. That is why this month’s climate protection tip is dedicated to heating.

Thermostatic valve – how it works

The thermostatic valve, usually with the steps * (asterisk), 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, sets the desired room temperature to be reached and maintained, e.g:
  • * (asterisk): approx. 5° C, frost protection
  • Level 1: approx. 12° C
  • Level 2: approx. 16° C
  • Level 3: approx. 20° C
  • Level 4: approx. 24° C
  • Level 5: approx. 28° C

It is often assumed that the stage influences the heat flow of the heating: the higher the stage, the hotter the heating. However, this is not true. The thermostatic valve has no influence on the speed at which the desired room temperature is reached. A room temperature of 20°C, for example, is reached at the same speed on stage 3 as well as on stage 5.

Lower the shutters and lower the temperature at night

It is usually advisable to lower the temperature overnight when many rooms are not used. Most thermostatic valves even have a small moon symbol for this purpose.
Heat is lost through the windows (even when closed). A roller blind or curtain in front of them creates an insulating cushion of air – hence less heat can escape to the outside. If you cover the windows overnight, you will therefore ensure less cooling.

Orientation values for room temperatures

The following orientation values for different room uses are recommended, for example, by the Federal Environment Agency.
  • Living area/ study: approx. 20 °C
  • Children’s room: 22°C
  • Bathroom: 23°C
  • Kitchen: 18 °C
  • Bedroom: 17 °C.

Of course, the individual feeling of warmth varies greatly depending on the person. The important thing is: No one should be cold or sitting in the office with a ski jacket. However, if you are dressed with a sweater instead of just a T-shirt in winter you can easily turn down the heating. Every degree less saves up to 6% energy.

Shock ventilation

A tilted window provides little air exchange but cools the surrounding walls. This promotes the growth of mould. It is better to air the room 3-4 times a day for 5-10 minutes at a time, closing the thermostatic valves: Otherwise the temperature sensor reacts to the cold air flowing in and the heating is turned up unnecessarily.

Automatic thermostatic valves

Meanwhile, there are thermostatic valves that control the individually desired room temperature depending on the time of day. Some of them can even detect when the windows are open and shut down the heating independently. Such thermostatic valves can help to save energy and at the same time increase comfort for the people using the room.

Do not cover radiators

If the radiators are not covered by furniture or curtains, the heat can spread unhindered throughout the room.

Close doors to adjacent rooms

The person in the adjacent room does not like it as cozily warm as you do? When you close the door, the warmth stays in your room. With regard to heating open doors are only worthwhile when the air temperature in the two rooms is similar.

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Müll
Image: Stefanos Kyriazis - Fotolia.com

It is time again – on 15.11.2019 the BSR calls for #Abfallfreitag (Waste Friday). The more people take part, the better – because in 2017, for example, 462 kg of household waste per capita and year were disposed of in Germany. Less waste also means less greenhouse gas emissions. Hence the climate protection tip of the month is dedicated to waste avoidance.

Valuable materials

Any avoided packaging saves greenhouse gases, as there is no need to invest energy and resources in their production and disposal – even with recycled packaging. With little effort, you can significantly reduce your own waste mountain:

Shop individual: reusable bags, e.g. made of cotton, can be chosen according to your own taste and style and make plastic and paper bags superfluous.

Give reusable bottles a chance: with the 16.4 billion disposable bottles consumed in Germany every year, you could circle the world 135 times in a row.
Returnable glass bottles, on the other hand, can be refilled up to 50 times and returnable PET bottles up to 20 times. So if you choose returnable bottles, you will save plastic waste and resources for the production of new bottles.

Delight for your back: The tap water in Germany is of excellent quality. So spare your back and do not drag litres of packed water around – thirst can also be quenched with a tap. In addition to saving energy and resources during the production and filling of the water in packaging, savings are also made during transport.

Greetings from home: Take something tasty homemade in reusable containers with you for lunch. If you do not have time for this and still have to buy the refreshment outside, you can also save on packaging here. Enjoy your meal relaxed and stylish on washable dishes in the restaurant you trust.

Take your own containers: Last but not least, more and more zero-waste-shops are offering the opportunity to buy without disposable packaging.

Food waste

With all your senses: The production of food also requires resources and thus contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. If left overs are disposed of, some of these efforts were unnecessary. A planning of the purchase dependent on the actual consumption works against that and saves money. Additionally food is often tasty and edible despite past minimum durability date or consumption date (however, caution please with meat and fish). Trust your senses. In the Internet there are numerous tasty tips for the utilization of food remainders e.g. restegourmet.de.

Technical equipment and clothing

A joy shared is a joy doubled: especially large technical devices such as drills are rarely needed and consume unused space the rest of the time. So share such equipment with friends and acquaintances or rent it from a DIY store to have more space for other things. This is also climate-friendly, as less equipment has to be produced that is energy- and material-intensive.

The same applies to clothing: Climate-friendly and inexpensive tasteful clothing can be bought in second-hand shops or swap shops. Many of your fellow citizens are happy about clothing in good condition that you no longer wish to use.

Some helpful links:

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Mann mit Beutel im Supermarkt
Image: Robert Kneschke

Organic food – is that good for you, or does it just buy you a clear conscience? You hear this question again and again. First of all: Only the label “organic” does not say anything. In any case, there must also be a trustworthy label. But what do the most common organic labels actually mean?

The hexagonal German organic label was created in 2001 and officially replaced by the EU organic logo in 2012. It may still be used, but must always appear together with the EU organic logo.

The four-sided EU organic logo (a leaf stylized from stars on a green background) is obligatory for all organic food produced and pre-packaged in the EU. Organic production means responsible use of energy and other resources, preservation of biodiversity, preservation of the regional ecosystem, improvement of soil quality and renunciation of chemical-synthetic pesticides, maintenance of water quality, prohibition of genetic engineering and a higher standard of animal welfare. Learn more about these two organic labels on the website of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

That’s a start. However, the labels of the German organic associations (e.g. Bioland, Naturland, Demeter) have much stricter guidelines than the EU organic label. For example, conventional feed (e.g. soya) may only be fed to a very limited extent or even not at all, while the EU regulation permits larger percentages here. The EU label permits considerably more animals per hectare than the German organic farming associations and, in contrast to the associations, does not require the farms to work ecologically on all sides, but allows individual branches of farms to be excluded.

You will find a more detailed list including a table of recommendations for the various labels at BUND e.V.

The purchase of organic food contributes to the fact that the soil and groundwater are no longer so heavily polluted with partly harmful chemicals that the natural ecosystem is preserved, just like animal and plant diversity. They point the way to a sustainable use of the planet’s resources and thus form an extremely important approach.

Those who are interested in animal welfare should, however, go beyond the EU label and choose the labels of the German organic farming associations, or even the new territory, which says nothing about organic farming, but places a clear focus on species-appropriate animal husbandry.

Organic food is now available in almost every supermarket and in many markets. For example there is on the Friday weekly market before the city hall Schöneberg a Bioland market stall.

About the CO₂-Ausstoss of the food the bio labels give however no information! There are three short rules to remember:
  1. Regional: Regionally produced foods have a much shorter transport route and therefore a significantly lower CO₂ output.
  2. Seasonal: Seasonally produced food does without energy- and thus CO₂-intensive greenhouse breeding.
  3. Vegetarian/vegan: Animal products have an immensely much higher CO₂ output than vegetables (in the comparison: approx. 0.2 kg CO₂/kg root/carbon/leaf vegetables, but approx. 15.5 kg CO₂/kg beef and even 25.6 kg CO₂/kg butter). To reduce the consumption of animal products contributes clearly to the decrease of the personal CO₂ consumption.
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behindertengerechtes Arbeiten
Image: Picture-Factory - Fotolia.com

What steps can be taken to protect the climate inside the office?

In the age of digitalization, offices are becoming more and more filled with electronic devices and (ideally) less and less with filing cabinets. Devices always consume electricity, but mostly much more than necessary. Even if green electricity is used, it still causes up to 50% less CO₂ emissions than conventional electricity, but it is not completely CO₂ neutral. Saving electricity is also important here.

A few simple steps

Turn devices that you don’t need off completely. You don’t have to keep your computer turned on for the entire lunch break, not even in sleep mode – you shouldn’t use screensavers because they’re no longer necessary on today’s devices. Printers and scanners aren’t used eight hours a day, and even standby mode consumes power all the time.

Generally applies: What flashes consumes power. Simply turn off the screen at the end of the day after shutting it down by pressing the on/off button. Ideally, all devices should be completely disconnected from the power supply via toggle switch power strip, with the exception of the computer, which has to stay connected to the power supply at night for updates.

Energy can also be saved when it comes to*light*. If the screen is set so that incident daylight no longer dazzles, it becomes unnecessary to block out sunshine with curtains – and then switch on a lamp at the end. Of course you don’t have to sit in the dark! But think about which light bodies are actually necessary to obtain sufficient working light.

With heating, it is better to let the window air through than to leave it in the tilt position all day long. The effect is also better for the air quality. – But please: Switch off the heating when ventilation is interrupted. It would be best not to heat to T-shirt temperature in winter – and perhaps even kill two birds with one stone! Small gymnastics units in between not only keep you fit, but also warm.
Some offices get quite cold when you turn off the heating overnight, but it may still not be necessary to let the heating run at the same level as during the day.

A lot of unnecessary consumption can be saved by turning around before closing time: Is the heating off or not set higher than necessary? Is the window closed? Is one of my devices still flashing that doesn’t have to stay on the power supply overnight? Are all lights off?

All these are important steps on the way to CO₂-neutral administration

If you are interested in further energy-saving tips for your computer or laptop, click here for more Information from the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union NABU.

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Baden an der Dahme
Image: tomsto - Fotolia.com

Summer has come with waving flags – you don’t want to stay at home, not even on balconies. Berlin and Brandenburg invite you to numerous excursions, without a car.

Just wandering off: 20 main green routes through Berlin let you see the capital from a whole new, much… greener perspective. Short descriptions and a digital hiking map can be found on the website of the Senate Department for Urban Development. The Berlin Forests have also long seen themselves as an inviting excursion destination and have been publishing regular tips for leisure time in the forest for many years.

Simply started: It may not be the first association if you imagine a relaxed excursion, but in fact the S-Bahn Berlin offers a lot of exciting excursion destinations, which of course can all be easily reached with the S-Bahn.

Departed, wandered off: Under this theme, the Wanderservice Brandenburg offers a variety of hiking routes, all of which can be reached by bus or train – and relaxed return journeys are also possible without having to walk in circles.

Let’s just go: At naturtrip.org you can simply type in your postcode and a multitude of possibilities in Berlin and Brandenburg will open up that can be reached by public transport – all you have to do is make up your mind. Also on Ab ins Grüne you can discover new excursion destinations with quite unusual rubrics: From “Wild animals – experience up close” to “Coal & steam – industrial culture”. At the end of each description there are journey tips. These do not do completely without the car, but there are always also descriptions of how to get there with alternative means of transport.

Mount and stomp on: Those who like to travel on two wheels have lots of options for beautiful tours around Berlin. On the page Reiseland Brandenburg you will find many suggestions for cycling tours, whether 20 or 200 km. The Allgemeine Deutsche Fahrrad-Club e.V. offers guided bike tours of various lengths and degrees of difficulty for people who do not like cycling alone or simply want to be guided around. On its Radtourenportal you can look comfortably for offered routes in your favourite region.

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ein junger Mann kült sich vor einem Ventilator ab
Image: Depositphotos / tomwang

The sun is shining, the ice melts in no time and the sweat is flowing: It’s summer! It’s hot! Some of us find it too hot – every year around 140,000 air conditioners are bought in Germany and on average about 8% of the energy consumed at home is used for cooling and air conditioning.

There’s another way.

If you hang damp towels or sheets in your home or office, evaporative cooling is generated when the water evaporates – if you have a fan, it can be used to distribute this coolness throughout the room. Cool foot baths under the desk can also be very pleasant.

However, it is not advisable to take a cold shower, because this signals to the body that more heat production is necessary, so that you can quickly stand in fresh sweat. So take a lukewarm shower and let yourself be refreshed from the inside with raw vegetables and fruit containing water. The foods with the highest water content are cucumber (97% water content), watermelon (96%), lettuce, Chinese cabbage, iceberg lettuce and tomatoes, each with 95% water content.

What next? Detect heat sources in the home! Electrical appliances produce a lot of heat even in standby mode. It would be best to connect most electrical appliances (refrigerator and washing machine, if possible; these should be connected directly to wall sockets) to power strips with switches, so that you can conveniently disconnect all appliances that you do not need from the power supply with a single hand movement. This also reduces the electricity bill and the CO₂ emissions.
In the office, of course, this is a little more difficult. Who can manage to spend a working day without a PC today? But also here it helps to take the necessary devices as for example the printer only in operation when it really is needed.

Do you still use light bulbs instead of LEDs? Then you should illuminate sparsely in summer. Light bulbs convert 95% of their energy into heat, LEDs “only” 60-65%.

Instead of trying to get the heat out of your home, it would be most effective not to let it in in the first place: If possible, allow windows, doors, curtains and blinds to closed during the day and immerse your home in cool darkness. Cool yes, dark no? Then perhaps a bright awning in front of the window is the solution. But beware: For rental apartments it may be necessary to ask the landlord beforehand.

Whether too hot or just right: Enjoy the summer!

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zwei Radfahrer auf einer Straße
Image: offfstock - Fotolia.com

Again this year the campaign “Mit dem Rad zur Arbeit “(“Biking to work“) – link only in German starts in the district office Tempelhof-Schöneberg. But why only to work? Most short to medium distances can be covered in a relaxed manner by bicycle and you are not only benefitting your health but also the climate.

For some years now, more space, faster routes and safer routes for cyclists have been programmatically demanded and implemented in Berlin and more and more people are getting on their bikes. In fact, bicycles can be used in many different ways – with a little investment, many tiresome load transport tasks can be carried out pedalling.

While IKEA’s double bed is probably still a bit too bulky for the bike, the classic bicycle basket for small purchases and modern bicycle bags offer impressive storage space of up to 40 litres. But be careful! Not every carrier is designed for weights of more than 25 kg. If you want to take your bike with you more often for shopping, it might be worthwhile to buy a more stable carrier. On oekotest.de you find ten bicycle bags in the test – only in German.

If you are especially serious about using your bike for transport, you can either use a bicycle trailer – only in German with a volume of up to 60 litres and a carrying capacity of 30-90 kg (also available as a folding version), or swing onto a load wheel. In the meantime there is the comfortable possibility to borrow the free load wheels of the fLotte Berlin – only in German, or the fLotte Berlin kommunal – only in German by the day.

Pedelecs and E-Bikes

You like to ride a bicycle, but in the long run it is too exhausting for you, and arriving at your destination sweaty is not a solution either? Then the pedelec could be something for you.

The pedelec is not to be confused with the S pedelec, which with a speed up to 45 km/h in road traffic is equivalent to the moped, and also requires a corresponding driving license (class M). The pedelec or e-bike in question is equipped with an electric motor that switches itself off when the vehicle reaches a speed of 25 km/h. This means that the pedelec can be used in all situations in the same way as a conventional bicycle, but allows longer mobility for older people and easier transport of loads thanks to the support of the electric motor.

A meaningful comparison of different pedelecs including CO₂ output can be found at ecotopten.de – only in German.

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Weltkugel mit Sehenswürdigkeiten aus aller Welt
Image: sdecoret - Fotolia.com

Those who are really early have already planned the summer holiday in winter, but not always all the information needed for a holiday booking are available that early. If you are planning a trip now, we have a few tips for you.

The travel opportunities that have opened up in the last 70 years are among the great achievements. We can easily and quickly travel to the other side of the globe, get to know other people, cultures, countries, landscapes and customs. The “outland” opens its doors to us and loses much of its imponderability. Such journeys are no longer only reserved for the upper ten thousand, but more or less possible for each of us.

However, the planet groans and moans under the sudden additional load. Each year the number of flights worldwide increases compared to the previous year – in 2017 the number was 41.8 million with about 4.1 billion passengers with about 21 kg greenhouse gas emissions per passenger per 100 km
(What is the greenhouse effect?). At the same time, many people are losing sight of worthwhile destinations that are relatively close by. Not crossing an ocean for every holiday is one of the tips for so-called soft tourism.

Choose wisely: means of transport

Apart from the distance, the means of transport also play an important role. Is it really necessary to fly to Rome or Istanbul, or wouldn’t a bed compartment in the night train be a possibility? Do I have to travel by car, or could I take a train or long-distance bus instead? Even when they are only half full, these means of transport are more environmentally friendly than cars.

The German Environment Agency has prepared a comparison of the average emissions of individual means of passenger transport with 2017 as the reference year – only in German. With regard to the figures for long-distance rail transport, it should be noted that more than 98% of Deutsche Bahn’s long-distance trains have been running on green electricity since January 2018, thus significantly reducing their emissions compared to 2017.

If air travel cannot be avoided, it can be compensated, for example with atmosfair. This involves targeted investment in climate protection projects designed to reduce greenhouse gases, such as reforestation projects.

Seals for sustainability and environmental friendliness

After choosing the means of transport, there is the possibility of paying attention to seals of sustainability and environmental friendliness when booking. The seal confusion may seem somewhat impenetrable. However, two trustworthy seals are, for example, Viabono – only in German, which was created in 2000 by an initiative of the German Environment Ministry, and Tourcert, which has developed a far-reaching internationally recognised consultancy and certification system for the tourism industry. You can find an overview of most of the labels in the tourism industry at Label Online – only in German.

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Straße führt zu einer ökologischen Stadt
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As an introduction we present the CO₂ calculator of the German Environment Agency UBA – only in German. In just five minutes you can gain a first impression of how you are already doing in terms of climate protection.

Everyone is talking about climate change and climate protection; an unexpectedly early spring reminds us once again that Berlin in 2100 could have the climate of Toulouse in southern France. But what does each individual contribute to climate change? On average, Germans currently produce 11.6 tonnes of CO₂ equivalents per capita per year (What are CO₂ equivalents?).

The goal is to reduce this consumption to just one ton per capita. To achieve this, however, something has to change in society as a whole. Approximately 1.1 tons per citizen are already caused by the state alone and passed on to the individual citizens in the bill – for example for infrastructure that we all use – and cannot be influenced by the individual. The remaining 10.5 tonnes, however, fall back to each individual within certain limits and consist of CO₂ emissions for mobility, food, heating, electricity and other consumption.

That seems to be an amount that can hardly be conquered – to reduce your own consumption by 90%! But climate protection does not have to be so difficult. Although 90% would be the ideal target, 20% already make a difference – and who knows, maybe you are already below the national average and it’s not that far to go?

What is your personal CO₂ balance?

Find out your personal CO₂ balance with the free CO₂ calculator from the German Environment Agency – only in German heraus. Which areas of life are particularly CO₂-intensive? Where do you stand compared to German average? What options are there actually if climate protection is to be considered in everyday life? If you don’t have the figures on your heating and electricity consumption at hand, the UBA calculator can also help you estimate them.

After you have found out what your personal CO₂ balance looks like, there is still the possibility to create your personal CO₂ scenario: What changes would you be willing to make? How much CO₂ could be saved? What political decisions would you be willing to support?

On average in Europe, Germany ranks 23rd with 11-12 tonnes of CO₂ consumption per year per capita, while only the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Estonia and Luxembourg are worse off with up to 17.2 tonnes per capita.

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