YouthSpeak Team Takes Action! Part II

written by Asli Ertem

“What can a single person change anyway?” We are all familiar with this question. It is a sentence we hear in the middle of a hot conversation or a slinking thought in our head once in a while. But we have to keep in mind that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and a single action will go a long way. As the YouthSpeak Forum Organizing Team, we shared some of our little steps we take towards awareness and sustainability every day:

Masa Mitic
Economical University of Vienna • Law

Yet another passed, another will come soon and so on and so on…it’s an endless circle. Every student knows this feeling, the exam week. But they don’t come along alone. With every new exam week, new books come along. For a simple book of 200 pages that is produced in a edition that is consisted out of 20.000 books 56 trees need to be cut down. Now, just imagine how many trees do you need for one university campus, how many forests have to go away? Instead of buying a new book, try to borrow it from a friend, or from the library or just buy it from someone who doesn’t need it anymore. You will not only save money, but with selling/buying/ borrowing a book from someone, you will keep a forest alive.

Nikola Brandstaetter
University of Vienna • Law

As Madeleine Daria Alizadeh, Founder of dariadeh recently wrote in her blog, approximately 1.6 billion tonnes of the food produced for us goes to waste. A new analysis from 2018 shows, that if we keep up with the current this number will increase by a third by 2030, with 2.1 billion tons lost or thrown away, which is equivalent to 66 tonnes per second. In 2016 815 million people, which accounted to over 10% of the world population, were suffering from chronic undernourishment. Furthermore, food waste and loss accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Reasons for that are diverse. Especially in industrialising countries, where wealth grows, the demand for more diverse food, food that is not grown locally, is increasing. Supply and demand have to be matched better and companies have to start promoting items that are about to expire soon. On the other hand, we buy too much food and anything that doesn’t meet the aesthetic standards after a few days in the fridge might be thrown out. But also government regulations have to be made, as for now there is little to no incentives for companies to reduce food waste. Governmental restrictions on expiration dates, storage and size (like in China, where the size of blueberries that can be sold is regulated) support food waste rather than diminishing it. I try to reduce food waste by buying from local markets, not buying too much food and not throwing away things, when it does not look that delicious anymore. I also eat food when it already passed it expire date and still seems good to me. What do you personally do to reduce food waste?

Denise Steger
Economical University of Vienna • International Business

Growing up in the heart of the Alps, South Tyrol, with nature everywhere around me I always asked myself as a kid, why we had to “import” electricity from over 100km away to our small village. I knew about the possibility of using hydroelectric power to produce electricity but didn’t understand why we didn’t implement this technology in our village yourselves since we had a rather powerful river just flowing through the valley. My dad was the major at the time and as soon as he heard my thoughts a new inspiration came to his mind. Over the course of 3 years he managed to plan and implement the construction of the northernmost hydroelectric power plant of Italy and it was put into operation in 2007. Do you know “How hydroelectricity works” ? It is a more sustainable alternative to coal or atomic energy and doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment.

Interested to learn more and do more to create your own impact and take action? Join us at the YouthSpeak Forum 2019!