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Sustainable living in Switzerland

Updated on November 13, 2023

Sustainability is a topic that is becoming increasingly important and more and more people are addressing it. Whether it's reducing plastic consumption or separating garbage, everyone can make a contribution to more sustainability in their everyday lives.

Most Swiss people already live very sustainably. This is also the reason why Switzerland is one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world. Around two-thirds of Swiss energy is generated from renewable sources.

Other areas such as waste management, landscaping and exhaust regulations are also strictly regulated in Switzerland and help to protect the environment.

1. Pay attention to nutrition

We consume food every day and can therefore make our daily contribution to a more sustainable world. The enormous meat production and consumption is a big problem for the environment. In addition to the many negative effects, such as the suffering of animals and the clearing of virgin forest to make more space for pasture, it is also not healthy to eat a lot of meat. This is because it raises our cholesterol levels.

A simple first step to make one's diet more sustainable is to minimize or even eliminate meat. Other options include:

  • Eating a plant-based diet instead of an animal-based diet (vegan).
  • Buying organic, regional and seasonal products

2. Reduce food-waste and buy sustainably

Food-Waste - as the name suggests, it stands for nothing else than "food waste". Every year, approximately two million tons of food waste are generated in Switzerland. That's over 300 kilograms of waste per capita, which has an enormous impact on the environment and climate. Most of the waste is caused by the end consumers, not the producers.

The awareness for the reduction of food waste already starts with shopping. In particular, the purchase of products that are not part of daily needs or of packages that are too large leads to the creation of food waste.

A conscious use of food reduces the environmental impact. This is how you can reduce food waste:

  • Think about what you really need at home and write it down on a shopping list.
  • Don't rely too much on the best-before date. Many products are edible even after the expiration date!
  • Create a menu plan - that way, when you get to the store, you focus only on products you need to prepare your dinner
  • Various meals still taste great the next day and do not have to be disposed of immediately, as they remain edible even several days refrigerated
  • Proper storage of products is also important: pay particular attention to proper storage in the refrigerator and suitable containers. This is because they protect the food from dehydration and changes in taste.

3. Clothing

In Switzerland, there are countless options to recycle clothes and save them from being thrown away. From collection containers to clothing acceptance points and second-hand stores to donation organizations such as Caritas, there are many ways to hand in your clothes for reuse. In certain places, furniture or other everyday products are also welcome. Every year, around 40,000 tons of textiles are handed in for secondary use in Switzerland. In addition to clothing, this also includes other products such as shoes or pillowcases, which can often also be handed in.

Donations to organizations end up in various places. Some of them end up in Africa, Latin America or Eastern Europe, while other products are re-sold on the Swiss market. Organizations such as Caritas, for example, run their own second-hand stores where they resell some of the donated products. The profits generated from the sales are then reinvested in their own social aid projects and in this way also support people all over the world.

By reusing textile products, large amounts of resources such as water are saved, which are needed for the production of new clothing. It also means that fewer products are destroyed and incinerated, which is good for the environment.

Other useful options for the reuse of clothing and textiles is also the own sale (on many platforms such as Tutti, Facebook possible without cost) or to pass them on to acquaintances and friends.

4. The best known synthetic material - plastic

Packaging, microplastics or plastic bags - We encounter plastic everywhere in everyday life, but especially wildlife and nature suffer from it. Especially disposable plastic products such as cutlery, plastic bags and cups are a big problem, because they are often not disposed of and recycled correctly and thus pollute the environment heavily.

Plastic is artificially produced from the raw material petroleum, which is in limited supply. It takes around 450 years for a plastic bottle to completely decompose as it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics. So if it is not disposed of properly but instead ends up in a body of water, for example, this can have fatal consequences: The bottle or parts of it end up in the stomachs of many marine animals, such as whales, fish and turtles, which subsequently starve to death because the plastic impairs digestion. Parts of it can also get stuck in the throat, which can also be fatal. Animals get tangled in all kinds of plastic waste, causing deformities in growth or death. But not only directly visible, many products also contain hidden plastic particles, for example cosmetic products such as scrubs or softeners. These microplastics attract toxins dissolved in the water and also the decomposition of the plastic releases various toxins, which accumulate in the food chain of marine life and seriously affect their genetic makeup and hormone balance. And by eating these sea creatures, the toxins are also absorbed into the human body. Every year, up to 13 million pieces of plastic end up in the ocean, costing hundreds of thousands of marine life their lives. For such reasons, proper plastic disposal is very important.

Plastic can be dropped off for recycling at many local collection points. For certain products such as PET, there are also collection points in most supermarkets, which makes proper disposal much easier.

Plastic has many disadvantages and is harmful to the environment, but ecologically its use can be quite beneficial. Food wrapped in plastic, for example, increases the shelf life of the product and thus reduces food waste. Many food chains and grocery stores create and produce sustainable packaging to conserve resources. At Migros, for example, you can find the so-called "ReCover" silicone lid. This serves as a replacement for cling film or aluminum foil and is a practical and resource-saving alternative.

5. Recycling

It is not only important to dispose of plastic properly, but also other goods such as glass and paper. Through recycling, waste that is no longer needed is reused, which means that new products are created from it. To recycle materials, machines are needed and they require energy. One of the advantages of recycling is that it uses less energy than creating a new product from scratch. This also means that fewer greenhouse gases are emitted. It is helpful for the correct disposal and recycling to separate the waste correctly from the beginning.

Did you know that?

  • Disposal of PET, glass and aluminum is free at public collection points.
  • Non-recycled waste ends up in landfills, incurring fees and negatively impacting the environment as new products are created with brand new resources and the old products are incinerated
  • Waste paper and cardboard can also be recycled: When recycled, it is dissolved with water and the ink is removed with the help of chemicals. In addition, it is even collected directly from the house on certain collection days, which makes recycling very easy for the end user.
  • There are also providers, such as Mr. Green, where you can collect all recyclable materials in a mixed bag for a small monthly fee and have it picked up at regular intervals.

6. Sustainability in the office

Ecological behavior has become an integral part of today's workday. Whether it's electricity, paper or energy - you can save on everything. 

The most important tips for making everyday life in the office more ecological and resource-saving:

Reduce power consumption

This is especially important after work and on weekends. Lighting and appliances should only be on when in use, because they consume a lot of electricity.

Other points on how you can reduce electricity:

  • Set computer to power-saving mode when you leave the office
  • Shut down computer when you leave work
  • Surf in power saving mode
  • Reduce screen brightness

Pay attention to paper consumption

In the past, documents had to be printed out and filed in folders, also for legal reasons. Digitization has ushered in a resource-saving change here in recent times. Thanks to technological developments, we can now easily store our documents on a server or in the cloud without compromising quality or accessibility.

Nevertheless, it is still important to pay attention to paper consumption:

  • "Think before you print" - Print few drafts, if possible. They can get to the recipient by other means, such as mail
  • Print on both sides
  • Several pages can be printed on one sheet of paper
  • Print only the necessary pages, usually not all pages are needed
  • Use recycled paper instead of paper made from virgin fibers

Technical equipment

Technical equipment such as printers and computers have a huge impact on resource usage. When buying office equipment, it is therefore important to focus on sustainability and energy efficiency. A good example of this is "all-in-one" printers, which save a lot of electricity. Devices with the "blue angel" label, which is a label for environmentally friendly products, are recommended.

7. Sustainable mobility

Public transport and cycling

Sustainable mobility reduces environmentally harmful emissions as well as the consumption of resources. Bicycling and public transportation such as suburban trains, streetcars or buses are much more sustainable than cars and ensure less pollution of the air. So if you ride your bike to work, you not only avoid the hassle of traffic jams, you also promote your own health.


E-cars also offer a good alternative to conventional vehicles. They have an ecological electric drive and still offer you everything that a traditional car can do. Thanks to the increasing spread, there are also more and more filling stations, and within about 20 minutes many vehicles are already ready for longer distances.


Car sharing is an attractive alternative for many. These are car pools that can be formed with friends or acquaintances. In addition, there are also portals where you can join already existing car rides. By car sharing you avoid unnecessary double trips and reduce emissions.

Evgeniy Timoshenko

Do you have any questions? Get in touch with me.

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