How to Live More Like Greta Thunberg in Malta
It’s high time we all learned to live more like Greta Thunberg in Malta. In the last year, Greta has gone from being a 15-year-old lone protestor in Sweden to a worldwide megastar and the face of the ‘climate revolution’. She began her climate activism even before she decided to skip school to stage a sit-in protest outside the Swedish parliament, holding a sign that read: ‘School Strike for Climate’. Soon afterwards, she was joined by a small group of other Swedish students. Slowly but surely, her movement gained traction. Now, students from all over the world, who have been inspired by Greta, are skipping school on Fridays to join the climate strike. These students are being joined by family and friends, who want to see the younger generation in a position where they can look forward to a better, cleaner future. This ‘Fridays for Future’ movement sees hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets every Friday, calling for those in power to take action.
For her work as an environmental activist, Greta has been awarded an honorary doctorate; been named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2019 and been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. And she’s only 16! Prior to Greta’s first protest, she turned vegan; encouraged her parents to stop travelling by plane and demanded that they, as a family, be more environmentally friendly at home and in their daily lives. If you have just moved to Malta from another country in Europe, such as Sweden, you might notice a big difference in how environmentally conscious society is. In Malta, small shops still hand out plastic bags (even for one or two items which you could easily carry), recycling doesn’t get separated (all plastics go into one bag), and, sitting in traffic, you’ll only see one person in every car. We can all do a lot better. That’s why we’ve put together a list of ways in which you can be more like Greta. Even if you’re a climate crisis sceptic, it wouldn’t hurt to be more environmentally friendly and less wasteful.
Stop using plastic bags!
This is really simple. Stop using plastic bags! The bigger supermarkets (including Pama and Greens) don’t sell plastic bags anymore. At these larger supermarkets, you can get a small biodegradable carrier bag or a big reusable bag for life. If you buy one of these bags, make sure you reuse it. Keep a stash in your car so that you’ll always have one handy. There’s no point in buying one of these bags if you’re only going to use it once. They do, however, put fruit and vegetables in plastic bags. You can do your bit for the environment and support a local business by purchasing a 5-pack of Veco bags. These are reusable mesh bags, made in Malta, that hold up to 2kg of fruit and veg. They pack small enough so that you can carry them around in your handbag! You can buy them at select supermarkets or online at: www.veco.shop. Small stores are also still giving out plastic bags in Malta. If you’re only buying one or two things, you shouldn’t need a bag. If you know you’re going to be going to the store to pick up a few things, bring a cloth bag with you.
Reduce car usage or car share when possible.
Wherever you can, try to reduce your car usage. Don’t drive somewhere that’s close enough to walk to. If you rent an apartment in Mosta, for example, and you work in St. Julian’s, it would of course take you a long time to walk to work. If you have good bus links near your rental apartment, perhaps you could take the bus (if not every day but perhaps a couple of times a week). If you have any friends or colleagues who rent an apartment near you or work in the same area, it could be a good idea for you to car share. Everyone could save on petrol that way! Alternatively, you could think about getting an electric scooter. These are becoming more and more popular every day. They are perfect for Malta, particularly because of the short distances. Just make sure you wear a helmet!
Separate your waste.
It might feel like a hassle to separate your waste. But every little helps so, don’t be lazy! In Malta, they now pick up three different kinds of waste throughout the week: general waste (black bag), recycling (grey/clear bag) and organic waste (white bag). Glass is also picked up every two weeks and, if you have bulky waste, you can call your local council for a pick-up appointment. It’s actually great to hear nowadays that most people’s recycling bins fill up much faster than their black bags. Don’t forget to wash your glass bottles and other recyclable items before you put them in the bin! If you don’t know the schedule in your local area, ask your landlord to confirm this for you. The type of waste and pick-up time varies between localities. Now that the weather is cooling off, it will be more convenient for you to use the organic bin.
Eat less meat.
No, you don’t have to do anything drastic like turning vegan overnight! However, several studies have confirmed that reducing the amount of meat you eat, especially red meat, is beneficial for your health as well as for the environment. Even if you and your flatmates make a pact to eat vegetarian or vegan food twice a week, that’s a start. Next week, many people in Malta are going meat free altogether! Why not join in with Malta’s Meat Free Week challenge? Starting on Sunday 6th October, many Maltese residents are going meat-free for a week. Find more information here: https://maltameatfreeweek.com/.
Reduce your consumption of water and electricity.
If you rent an apartment in Malta, you can do your bit to be more environmentally friendly at home. Unfortunately, if you don’t own the apartment in Malta, you won’t have had much say over how efficient or eco-friendly the appliances are. However, you can still make a difference. Here are some simple tips to reduce your consumption of water and electricity (and reduce your bills):
Turn off the lights in rooms when you’re not occupying them;
Don’t leave the tap running while you brush your teeth;
Set your air conditioner to a reasonable temperature (25 degrees Celsius will still take the edge off in summer and 18 to 20 degrees Celsius is warm enough in winter);
Wash your clothes at a lower temperature.
Join a climate protest!
Last but not least, join a climate protest in Malta. Students and other residents who are concerned about the future of our climate have been gathering in Valletta every Friday to protest the lack of action by the Maltese government concerning the climate crisis. They join the global movement, started by Greta, called ‘Fridays for Future’. You can find out more information at: https://www.fridaysforfuture.org/.