Sustainable Living: Caring for One’s Well-Being as well as That of the Planet

When we discuss sustainability, our focus is usually on corporations and governments; how they can decrease their negative impact on the environment / society and boost sustainable development and transformation. As single individuals, our environmental footprint may be quite low compared to those of institutions (such as companies); however, we can still make contributions in change towards a more sustainable future by making adaptations in our lifestyles and leading a (more) sustainable living.

Sustainable living can be defined as “understanding how our lifestyle choices impact the world around us and finding ways for everyone to live better and lighter.” [1]. It is an approach to decrease one’s demand on natural resources by, for example, stopping to use a certain product or service that is produced and delivered through unsustainable ways and have a huge negative impact on our planet; or by making behavioral changes in one’s everyday life to decrease one’s ecological footprint.

Sustainable living is closely related to the concept of sustainable consumption, which means “the use of goods and services that respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life, while minimizing the use of natural resources, toxic materials and emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle, so as not to jeopardize the needs of future generations.” [2]

The importance of sustainable consumption in achieving sustainable development is so important that it also appears in one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations (UN). SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production pursues “ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns” and “doing more and better with less”. [3]

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According to a few facts presented by the UN;

  • “Each year, an estimated one-third of all food produced – equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes worth around $1 trillion – ends up rotting in the bins of consumers and retailers, or spoiling due to poor transportation and harvesting practices.
  • If people worldwide switched to energy-efficient light bulbs the world would save US$120 billion annually.
  • Should the global population reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles.” [3]

A simple online research on ‘how to lead a more sustainable life’ gives various ideas for small lifestyle changes that can change one’s impact on the planet for the better.

One example would be to decrease the consumption of animal-based products in one’s diet, which would not only boost one’s own health, but also that of the planet.

Image by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash

According to Dr. Michael Greger’s videos on Which Foods Have the Lowest Carbon Footprint? and Diet and Climate Change: Cooking Up a Storm “In California, including more animal products in your diet requires an additional 10,000 quarts of water a week. That’s like taking 150 more showers each week. Instead of eating meat every day, if you skip meat on weekdays, you could conserve thousands of gallons of water a week and cut your daily carbon footprint and total ecological footprint by about 40 percent.” [4] “The foods that create the most greenhouse gasses appear to be the same ones that contribute to many of our chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension.” [5]

Another example would be to stop contributing to the growth of the fast-fashion industry and shopping for what is really needed and going for sustainable brands or second-hand clothes. The fashion industry is indeed known as one of the main pollutants of our planet. According to the Deutsche Welle Documentary on Fast fashion – The shady world of cheap clothing, “Our planet is being swamped in clothes with some 56 million tons sold every year. The number sold in Europe has doubled since the turn of the millennium”. [6]

Image by Becca McHaffie on Unsplash

According to Prof. Nikolay Anguelov, who presents interesting facts in the documentary, it is estimated that “by 2030 the industry will expand by an additional 60 percent”, which is very worrying considering, among many other issues, the amount of dumped clothes every year. Indeed, as Prof. Anguelov puts it, “Fast fashion is the commerce of very inexpensive clothing that you are expected, or you are ready to replace very rapidly. It’s very typical for the fashion forward buyer to never wear an outfit that they purchased. You will wear something once or twice or maybe never.” [6]

It is important that each individual is aware that one’s actions and choices do have an impact on climate change -among many other social and environmental challenges we experience today- and gets informed about the small changes he/she can make for a more sustainable lifestyle. To start with, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) presents a footprint-calculator, a questionnaire through which one can calculate his/her individual ecological impact and makes the first step towards a more sustainable living.

Written by Ela Kurtcu, Global Impact Grid








Winery by-products as a source of essential compounds

The consumption of wine has a great economic and cultural significance. According to The Food and Agriculture Organization statistics from 2016, the grape is the most widely cultivated fruit crop [1]. The biggest grape producers in 2018 were: China (11.7 million tons), Italy (8.6 million tons), the USA (6.9 million tons), Spain (6.9 million tons), and France (6.2 million tons) [2]. Among the others, grape crops are used for fresh fruit, dried fruit and juice production. However, the majority of production is focused on wine [3]. In 2019, the world wine production reached 292 million hectoliters from 77.8 million tons of grape crops. It is assumed that 30% of the total amount of vinified grapes are by-products during the wine production, including pomace – skin and seed as well as rachis and lees, as shown in Figure 1 [4].

Figure 1 By-products generated during different stages of the winemaking process [5].

In 2018 alone, vitiviniculture generated around 23 million tons of waste. Moreover, most of them were discarded without any treatment, causing an environmental and economic load. Biowaste generated during the winemaking process has one significant feature making them difficult to dispose of. They are rich in phenolic compounds, which decrease the pH and increase resistance to biological degradation [5].

Should they be considered waste?

Growing people’s interest in sustainability and circular economy is a driving force for the wine industry to look for innovation and an alternative way of winery biowaste utilisation. Winery by-products, especially grape pomace, present a rich source of essential compounds such as antioxidants, dietary fibres, polyphenols, flavonoids, essential minerals, showing health-promoting properties. It is documented that these bioactive compounds possess antibacterial, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effects preventing chronic diseases. Thus, they are highly interested in the food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industry [6]. More and more literature evidence shows an increasing number of possible reusing and recycling of winery biowaste. The extract of grape pomace can be used in various industries like:

  • the food industry, where it can be added to prevent food products against oxidation and lipid peroxidation, to limit colour deterioration and prevent against the antimicrobial activity, thus food spoilage;
  • the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry, because of significant polyphenols content it could be a new, cost-effective source in the cosmetic sector due to their anti-ageing properties or dietary supplement rich in antioxidants;
  • agroindustry as soil conditioner once the grape pomace is composted or it can be reused in animal feeding [5].

Instead of being disposed of away, winery by-products can be used as a fuel (biomass) to generate methane gas, which can then generate electricity [5]. Moreover, grape stalks can be used in wastewater treatment to remove heavy metals, including Cd, Cu, Cr, Ni, Hg, Pb [7].

The discussed number of wine pomace applications demonstrates the significant potential of winery by-product valorisation in various industries. The results of the research are very promising; however, still, there is a long way to go until all of these residues have proven recovery pathways. This is a huge challenge for the future, to make the wine production process more sustainable, to change the wine waste chain in order to recover as much as possible and turn it into valuable products.

“Who will be the first to benefit from exploring the opportunities?”

Written by Magdalena Fabjanowicz, Gdańsk University of Technology


1.          FAO-OIV FOCUS 2016 Statistical Report on Table and Dried Grapes. Available Online: (Accessed 16.03.2022); s.n.], 2016;

2.          OIV, 2020 Statistical Report on World Vitiviniculture. Available Online: (Accessed 8.03.2022);

3.          Bouquet, A.; Torregrosa, L.; Iocco, P.; Thomas, M.R. Grapevine (Vitis Vinifera L.). In Agrobacterium Protocols Volume 2; Humana Press: Totowa, NJ, 2006; pp. 273–285.

4.          Melo, P.S.; Massarioli, A.P.; Denny, C.; dos Santos, L.F.; Franchin, M.; Pereira, G.E.; Vieira, T.M.F. de S.; Rosalen, P.L.; Alencar, S.M. de Winery By-Products: Extraction Optimisation, Phenolic Composition and Cytotoxic Evaluation to Act as a New Source of Scavenging of Reactive Oxygen Species. Food Chemistry 2015, 181, 160–169, doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.02.087.

5.          Kalli, E.; Lappa, I.; Bouchagier, P.; Tarantilis, P.A.; Skotti, E. Novel Application and Industrial Exploitation of Winery By-Products. Bioresources and Bioprocessing 2018, 5, 46, doi:10.1186/s40643-018-0232-6.

6.          Gerardi, C.; D’amico, L.; Migoni, D.; Santino, A.; Salomone, A.; Carluccio, M.A.; Giovinazzo, G. Strategies for Reuse of Skins Separated From Grape Pomace as Ingredient of Functional Beverages. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 2020, 8, doi:10.3389/fbioe.2020.00645.

7.          Tripathi, A.; Rawat Ranjan, M. Heavy Metal Removal from Wastewater Using Low Cost Adsorbents. Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation 2015, 06, doi:10.4172/2155-6199.1000315.