Sustainability is the capacity for Earth's biosphere and human civilization to co-exist and protect the environment; it respects the balance of nature and its ability to regenerate and absorb the consequences deriving from production.

Consequently, the main focus for us all is to find the right ecological equilibrium that can meet the present generation’s consumer-lifestyle needs without irreparably damaging the environment, without depleting available resources and, ultimately, the life chances of future generations.

So, how can we all best contribute to achieving an environmentally-friendly future?

Let's take a look at some eco-friendly behaviours that we could all adopt in daily life to make a difference in safeguarding the planet.

Purposely reduce the resources we use, reuse objects, avoid wasting food and recycle raw materials: these are the principles of a ‘circular’ economic model that minimalise the use of the planet's resources and the substantial impact deriving from their production such as waste and pollution.

I REDUCE – I DON’T WASTE RESOURCES

Don't waste food

How many of us have popped into the supermarket to buy one or two things and come out with a trolley full?

Impulse buying leads to purchasing more food than we really need, likewise overly zealous adherence to the use-by date very often results in wasting products that are still perfectly edible. Excessive aesthetic standards require all of our fruit & vegetables to look as perfect as possible which also leads retailers to consider large quantities of perfectly usable food as unsuitable for displaying and marketing. If we could learn how to properly preserve and store food at home, plan our meals and list what ingredients we already have and which ones we need to buy, as well as being more flexible with the labelling date, we could significantly reduce food waste.

Another important environmental-friendly action is donating; whenever possible unwanted, unopened and intact packets of foods should be delivered to charities and food banks that can redistribute them to those in need.

The Milan neighbourhood hubs, winners of Prince William's Earthshot Prize

A million pounds and the support of the Royal Foundation for the next few years

Prince William has awarded the City of Milan the prestigious international Earthshot Prize in recognition of the best solutions to protect the environment!

Winning the first edition of the Earthshot prize was well-merited recognition for the great solidarity and teamwork. Initiated in 2017, this project involved the entire city: thanks to the Municipality and to many third sector social enterprises, universities, the large-scale retail trade and local operational philanthropy, Milan now has 3 hubs in the Isola (2019), Lambrate (2020) and Gallaratese (2021) districts.

The £1 million in prize money will be used to further support these Hubs and to open new ones, guaranteeing their long-term sustainability and replicating and scaling this virtuous best practice within the network of cities that work with Milan on food policies, starting from the C40 network of cities and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact.

The next hub, still in the planning phase, will be the Corvetto neighbourhood hub against food waste whilst, with the opening of a fifth one in mind, the Municipality of Milan has recently launched a co-planning table for the Centre Hub with Associations and Banks.

 

 

An APP to avoid waste: ‘Too good to go’

The ‘food waste warrior’ movement against left-over food. How does it work? Thanks to an app that enables retailers not to waste daily unsold items giving the customer access to buy the products at a reduced price.

Buy seasonal and local products

When we talk about 'zero-miles' or 'short chain' products we usually refer to foodstuffs which are sold in an area a few kilometres away from where they were produced. The advantages of a short supply chain are considerable and are especially evident not only in the reduction of factors related to pollution and global warming, such as the emission of carbon dioxide generated by transport and the use of packaging for distribution, but also in the consumption of local, fresher and more seasonal products which have not lost their organoleptic properties in transit. Furthermore, the short supply chain aims to reduce the number of stages that would normally occur between the producer and the consumer which also results in a net reduction of distribution and transport costs.

Those who wish to embrace this ‘short-chain philosophy’ can find out how to buy foods from nearby producers, thus, enhancing the biodiversity and economy of the local area.

Why drink tap water?

The habit of drinking tap water in every single home has the potential to foster a very powerful collective synergy in terms of sustainability.

Let's take a look at why this behaviour can significantly reduce both waste and emissions.

Sport & Greenery - Parks and protected areas

The alarming data on climate change, together with the phasing-in of a series of initiatives aimed at endorsing environmental sustainability, are gradually contributing towards a more positive collective ecological awareness.

Parks and green spaces provide valuable opportunities for outdoor recreation and sports, particularly in densely-populated urban areas; trees give shelter from the heat and undoubtedly improve the aesthetics of our cities but, above all, they help regulate air quality and climate, at the same time reducing energy consumption by counteracting the effects of heated paved surfaces.

Check out your local city park where you can relax and enjoy the benefits of contact with nature for the mind and body.

The ecological oases near Milano

The green areas in the hinterland also encompass ecological oases that represent a place to study, care and conserve many species of plants and wildlife.

Biodiversity - the variety and variability of living organisms and the ecological systems in which they live - is essential for maintaining the health of ecosystems. Italy is host to the most important reservoirs of plant and animal biodiversity on the European continent.

Let's take a look at the ecological oases near Milano that act as a refuge for biodiversity.

 

Sustainable mobility and cycling routes

Traveling around by bike, in the midst of nature or in the city streets, empowers us and make us feel that we are doing something positive for the environment.

Cycle tourism is a healthy and fun way to travel as it is sustainable and economical but, most importantly, ecological. By jumping on your bike, you can come into closer contact with nature and the local produce but, most importantly, discover places that are inaccessible by car, all without producing emissions and pollution.

RECYCLING - I CHOOSE TO EXTEND PRODUCT LIFE

Where to buy unique clothes and one-off objects

In terms of environmental sustainability, recycling is highly impactful as it prolongs the life cycle of garments and objects to give them a second life.

Every object that does not go to landfill is of benefit to the environment, as it signifies not imposing the cost of a new item of waste, not to mention, of course, the fun and satisfaction of scouting unique vintage clothes and objects or bargaining with antique dealers and furniture collectors for pieces built to last over time.

Join us to discover places in Milano where you can find second-hand and vintage clothes, antiques, modern antiques and collectibles to revamp your look or give your home a unique touch whilst also benefitting the environment.

RECYCLING - WHEN WASTE AND REFUSE BECOME A VALUABLE RESOURCE

Homo Sapiens is the only living species to produce non-ecological waste that can be potentially be a risk for man himself and for other living species.

However, it is possible to transform waste into a valuable resource through meticulously separated refuge collections that enable us to reuse the waste produced by each family.

Guide to recycling

Correctly separated waste can be a valuable resource

There are all different types of household waste, so only by categorising and separating can we actively contribute to the recycling process in order to produce new raw materials from used ones.

The first step is to download the extremely useful Amsa refuse collection guide.

Circular economy in agriculture

Use of imperfect products and agricultural waste

If food is not fit for human consumption it can be allocated to livestock feed, thus, preserving resources that would otherwise be used to produce commercial feed.

In the case of circular agriculture, by-products such as biomethane and fertilizers can also be used for crop farming.

Acqua e Sole, a company founded by Giuseppe Natta, grandson of Giulio Natta, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1963, has adopted this ethos.

The company, which is based in Milano and operational in the province of Pavia, aims to modernise waste treatment processes through research and experimentation, strongly advocating their recycling and reuse practices in full compliance with the principles of circular economy and economic sustainability.

Fashion - Circular manufactures and eco-friendly designers

Circular fashion can disrupt the linear production model and become extremely effective but how does a brand that produces sustainable garments work?

First of all, they can select recycled fabrics or natural fibres that have not been subjected to any chemical treatment e.g., organic cotton.

Then they can reduce waste by minimalising or replacing plastic for packaging. Additionally, the company can implement policies that lower co2 emissions by choosing renewable energy for its plants, or by organising more efficient communal deliveries for products. There are two great Milanese fashion events dedicated to sustainability.