“I would like to be part of the solution”

Living as sustainably as possible: Tobias Pastoors from Cologne explains what sacrifices he makes and how he organises his everyday life in an eco-friendly way.

Sustainable traveller: Tobias Pastoors
Sustainable traveller: Tobias Pastoors privat/Franziska Schardt

“Just under ten kilometres an hour. I can’t go any faster than that with a washing machine on the freight bike. I had to pedal away for three hours to transport the appliance from its former owner to my apartment. Compared to using a van, I saved six kilograms of CO2 with the bicycle. However, a fully laden freight bike achieves much more than simply saving fossil fuel. Riding along the road on one you become an eye-catcher, the rolling proof that a green world is possible.

­‘He’s crazy,’ some of the onlookers may have thought to themselves as I passed. That’s very possible. But if we’re still going to achieve the ecological transition, we’ll all have to act a little crazy, have to boldly try out new things, leave our comfort zones and abandon old habits and ways of thinking.

Technology alone will not save us

When it comes to our foundations of life, the situation is not looking good, and that applies not only to the climate: within a single decade in Germany we have lost up to two thirds of our insects, the oceans are contaminated with approximately 200 million tonnes of waste and year by year the total area of forests worldwide is steadily decreasing. If our ecosystem reaches the tipping point, although no one knows exactly how long, we will definitely not have much time left for a turnaround.

To achieve the ecological transition, we’ll all have to act a little crazy.

Tobias Pastoors, Cologne

At present, politics is attempting to counter this primarily with new greener technologies. It is doubtful whether that will be enough. Let me give you an example: if we want to achieve our climate goals, then each one of us is currently allowed to cause two tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. According to calculations by the Federal Environment Ministry, even an electric car in 2025 will be responsible for emissions of 101 grams of CO2 per kilometre travelled if you take into account production and energy provision. When you consider that a German car driver currently covers an annual average distance of approximately 12,000 kilometres, it soon becomes clear that each electric vehicle in the future will easily generate over one tonne of CO2 emissions per year.

What I do and don’t do

I’m one of almost eight billion people on this planet. What I do and don’t do carries hardly any weight. I don’t find that demotivating, however: I would like to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. I live as a vegan, wear my clothes until they fall apart, repair rather than buy and use what other people throw away. I don’t find that difficult. In fact, it’s rather the opposite. Since I consume little, I don’t need to earn as much and am rather free to decide how I spend my time, so I can get involved and work on projects that I find meaningful.

Tobias Pastoors
Tobias Pastoors privat/Franziska Schardt

Nevertheless, reducing my CO2 emissions towards two tonnes also requires decisions that I perceive as sacrifices: I don’t fly, avoid cars, don’t buy things although I’d like them, write texts like these on a pretty old and sluggish laptop and have to pedal hard on the freight bicycle. I would like to make my contribution to preserving our foundations of life. And if only one person reads this text or gets thinking when they sees a fully laden freight bike travelling through Cologne, then I will have achieved quite a lot.”

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