“I live in a house that is completely sustainable, we have renewable energy. But I also like to travel, so I want to opt for more sustainable transport. Going by train instead of plane or even walking. Why not?
Then I think that at the community level there are steps we could take together for better forest maintenance, which could contribute to reducing our ecological footprint as a community. It is not only about planting trees, but also about taking care of forests. The species have to be well-chosen and treated in a more sensitive way.”
“Firstly, I live in Monchique and I have a renovated house that needed much fewer resources, minerals and energy to build and create good living conditions than a new house. It is well-insulated and needs little energy to heat and keep cool in the summer.”
He almost never eats meat at home, which is the second main cause of carbon production in the atmosphere.
“And the third is the most difficult: living in Monchique, it is always necessary to have transport. But with the new technologies we can communicate easily without having to travel. I have worked a lot on the internet and I have colleagues who work from here for other countries. And mainly, living in the town, I walk, and it is possible to go to Portimão, the nearest city, by bus. But in fact it is very difficult because of the timetables, and the cost is not very different to going in your own car. It would be great to have a car that doesn’t use fossil fuels, but it’s really not worth it at the moment to buy a new car because the amount of energy used in the production of the car is more than I will spend in a lifetime using a car that I already have. If my car breaks down, it’s interesting because this is the first year I’ve seen a second-hand electric car sales market. These are cars that have already been bought and I am not creating a need to build another car. Then I can think about changing an old petrol car for an old but electric car. And the fantastic thing about Monchique is that we are an exporter of renewable energy. So the energy we consume here is almost entirely renewable.”
“I live on an off-grid farm, our energy is based on the combination of solar and wind energy. It is challenging at times to have to always be aware of our electricity consumption because we know that there is a daily limit: we can’t have the television on always, we can’t leave the lights on because we’re forced to save energy and use the energy we have.
I am working to have financial independence, so that whenever I travel, I can carbon offset from my carbon miles because, when we travel, we are emitting carbon. My goal would be to have the annual metrics of my carbon footprint and annually invest the same amount in cash to neutralise my carbon emissions.
More concrete actions: I want to invest the money I am saving in companies that have ethical consumption funds. I want to ‘disinvest’ the money from foreign markets and I want to invest it not in the Portuguese market, but in our local Monchique market, consume local products so the footprint is small.
I’d like to plant more trees, and I have to do so this month, every month plant a little.”
“Recently I changed a daily habit that I used to have, which was to buy plastic water bottles. I got some glass bottles and every 6 weeks or so I go to Fóia to get water, eight glass bottles. And I use this water at home. Therefore, I seal the bottles with cork and thus reduce the consumption of plastic and water that comes with micro-plastics.
In my house, everything is electric, so we don’t use gas and we have solar panels for both the water and the electricity.
I’d like to have an electric car to reduce my ecological footprint, because I do about 80 kilometres every day from Bensafrim to Monchique because of work, but there would need to be more recharging stations here in the Algarve so that I could do that.
And my great ambition now is to take up a family plot of land that we have in the Bensafrim area and start doing organic farming, which I already do at my house, but on a very small scale: ten cabbages a year, ten heads of garlic, it’s almost a joke, a hobby. The ideal would be to produce for the whole family, and perhaps one day for the local community. I would have to dedicate myself to this and take a big step and leave my job here in Monchique … if I were able to support my family and to obtain income from it I would be willing to do so.”
“Since returning to Monchique, I buy everything local and avoid buying in the big supermarkets. I recycle everything that can be recycled, glass, plastic, and even when I go out to dinner I try to avoid the cans, the plastic bottles. I always try to ask for glass to see if we can change the mentality of the salesmen, to demonstrate that the public rules. And in the future I want to have a garden, but this is still a dream.”
“I have never owned a car in my life, I cycle or I hitch-hike. I only travel to Germany very rarely, but in this case there are always alternatives to flying: hitch-hiking or travelling by train,
I know that supposedly a life like this is more complicated or simply requires more planning. For me, this is all to do with one’s comfort zone and with the tendency one has for questioning things: Do I really have to go to the supermarket? I hardly ever buy anything new, nor do I feel the need to constantly buy new things. In a way, I am free of it.
And then there’s the matter of food waste, which has concerned me for many years. For example, at Intermarche in Aljezur, it didn’t surprise me at all to find many products in the rubbish bins even there. From food, batteries and detergent to sun cream…they had everything you could imagine in supermarket products. What exactly I do in this case is not very appetising.
Actually, I remove everything that is usable, vegetables and “rotten fruit” and take everything home with me in paniers on my bicycle. At home I wash everything well before consuming it or giving it to friends.
“I am currently setting up an association for Monchique, Aljezur and Odemira councils, which aims to promote the return of native forest to Portugal, putting pressure on both the councils and the State and giving voice to those who say: we want a return to native forests and the reduction, step by step, of the area occupied by eucalyptus. It is not consistent, on the one hand, to want eco-tourism and, on the other hand, to have eucalyptus here. In the same way as agro-industry greenhouses don’t fit in either. On the one hand, they are talking loudly in support of tourism in natural surroundings and, on the other hand, creating these obstacles.
For me, personally, it is fundamental to reduce my ecological footprint: I produce solar energy. I practise organic farming, planting organic vegetables without the use of artificial fertilisers. I travel on an electric bicycle, cycling the ten kilometres to Aljezur and back almost every day. I even hit a car, but I was lucky: the car was damaged and the bike and I were fine.”
“For the past two years, we have not had petrol or diesel cars in my family, but we have an electric car. From having two cars, we moved to having one car that basically we only have because the closest Waldorf School, which we like my daughter to go to, is rather far away. Otherwise, we would not even have a car.
For about ten years, we have been mostly vegetarian, tending towards vegan. Meat consumption is rare, except when we are invited to an event. We consume local produce, we are members of CSA – Community Supported Agriculture. We started with the Herdade do Freixo do Meio for a while and now with some more local places closer to Odivelas.
As part of my research and my work, I have had to travel twice a month for about three years, and 2017 was the year I took only one plane trip in the whole year. So, it was a statement: I only go away when I have to and when it is for some period of time. And I’m also more focused on local and regional research.
At the Faculty level, we have a sustainability initiative, called the Horta FCUL project and within this community we have a research project called ‘Permaculture Living Lab’ , whose function is to do research through the creation of sustainability in college. Things that we have done include: the reuse of rainwater. Everything that is gardening resources that would have been thrown out, we compost. Last year we composted 40 tons of material. And now we are reusing all the uncooked food remains to make compost and then use this to nurture the college’s systems or make it available to its members. Last year, just from one bar, we managed to make a ton of compost and now we will have seven more bars, one of which is the main canteen. So we’re going to multiply this output by about 20 to 50.
For the future, I intend to live near my in-laws and in that house I have solar panels and other types of alternative heating systems and produce most of my food. Already in the process, I would say that half of my vegetables come from a home garden. And the electric car will be my last car. From now on it will be either shared transport or it will not be needed because there will be more bikes and everything is much closer.”
“I started to reduce my ecological footprint when I left Monchique to live in the countryside. My house only has electricity from solar panels and I have a solar collector for the hot water. Therefore, I do not have contracts with EDP or with the municipal council for water supply. Afterwards, I try to use the food from my farm, often even using wild plants like dock leaves that can be used to make salad, soup or omelette. And I practise organic farming, fruits to sell, and vegetables to feed me and my family. I try not to use plastics, for example not using cotton swabs, or using soap instead of packaged shampoo. ”
“I am vegan, sometimes I may eat fish or cheese, but generally no animal food because it is no longer necessary. It’s very important to have a healthy diet, I’m 51 and I’m in good shape, I’m also a cook in these areas: macrobiotics, vegan and ‘raw food’. I recommend that people eat more of a plant-based diet that greatly reduces our carbon footprint. And I hardly ever drive, I always go by public transport when I’m in Lisbon. And when we come to Monchique, we share a car, we all go together.”
“I try, every day, to change some habit that I have. I’ve begun taking a bottle of water of mine to work, so as not to use the plastic bottles there. I take a cloth bag to the supermarket. I don’t eat meat. Livestock is one of the biggest polluters in the world, which means that there are monocultures and monocultures: for example, soya beans, 80 per cent of which is produced for consumption by cattle and not by humans. And I have a project called ‘raizes.org’ where I’m warning people that there is another way for us to feed ourselves, besides being vegetarians, but nonetheless taking full advantage of food. Using the peel and skins, the pips and stones from fruit, and the seeds too. I cooked a simple spinach soup and weighed the bits leftover: the onion, carrot and potato peel, and the spinach stalks, and it was more than a pound of vegetable matter. But when we’re using organic products, we can take advantage of this waste. I made a pate with the carrot peel, made crepes with the spinach stalks and made potato cakes from the potato peel. From the onion peel, you can make a tea. It is a way to better harness the energy that was expended in cultivating these ingredients, because it is water, it is energy and we’re using water, energy and the soil, all of which are limited resources.”
“I want to consume more products produced in an environmentally friendly way. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to completely stop eating meat, since we have natural pastures that require grazing, which means that we have milk and some meat. However, it is easy to follow the recommendation to consume a maximum of 20 kilograms of meat per year per person *, thus maintaining a balanced diet for protein, without the need for meat that is produced with the use of corn.
Besides, in Vienna it is better to live without a car because travel and transport are responsible for much of the ecological footprint. As far as the chemicals in my own home are concerned, I have reduced them almost to zero, since they only lead to the creation of alternative bacterial strains, which we don’t need at all. Another thing that can be reduced, is the consumption of paper, as well as that of water. This means, specifically, that I have a shower in less than half an hour and I choose shorter programmes on the washing machine.”
* The consumption of 20 kg of meat per person per year corresponds to about 400 grams per week, including all edible animal parts, such as organs, skin and cartilage.
“We have half a hectare and we try to grow a lot of our own food. And we would like to, one day, have a bed and breakfast and offer food from our terraces. And buy less, that’s our hope. But we do make lots of things, jams, preserves and chutneys. In the summer when we have guests, we are very proud of sometimes saying: everything on this table came from our garden. Or it came from Monique, in Monchique, her eggs and her cheese. So we try to get locally sourced food, we try to use supermarkets as little as possible and recycle everything. And then we thought about offering bicycles to our bed and breakfast guests and giving them a discount when they use bicycles instead of a car. To encourage green tourism, especially in Monchique: to encourage cyclists, walkers, people who have an ecological mindset, who care about the environment and join with them in doing things that reflect our values and our desires to change the world.”
“It’s a funny thing, but I think I’d like to keep hens. Because I heard about how the eggs come from the hens and then they’re packaged somewhere else and thenthey’re brought to the supermarket, and I drive there and back again with the eggs … there must be an easier and quicker way, also one that’s more environmentally friendly. So if I just kept hens myself, the eggs would have to travel much less.”