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“We need to link sustainable consumption to positive experiences.”

Anna Katharina Meyer and her team want to mobilise a million people to protect the climate with the „Climate Bet“ initiative. Riese & Müller is supporting the wonderful project with a company-wide 100-day campaign to add up the total kilometres cycled. In our interview, Anna shared with us the back story – and also gave us three ideas to promote sustainability in our everyday lives.

Anna, the next United Nations Climate Change Conference will be kicking off on 1 November 2021 in Glasgow. What do you want to have achieved by then through the “Climate Bet” team?

The UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow is our last opportunity to curb the climate crisis and avoid exceeding the target of 1.5 degrees set by the 190 signatories to the Paris Agreement concluded at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. We want to show that this event matters to us all. And we want to show policy-makers that people want effective climate protection. Every individual is prepared to do something – through specific actions. It will move things on in Glasgow if everyone who cares about climate protection makes their voice heard and takes action.

And how did this idea morph into the “Climate Bet”?

The founding father is Michael Bilharz from the German Federal Environment Agency, who is setting off today on a summer tour around Germany to promote the Climate Bet on a Load 75. Santa and I were already in contact with him through our blog. He approached us and together we developed the idea into a broad-based, passionate, digital and real campaign.

Santa and I were so enthusiastic about this very specific idea that we decided to dedicate ourselves totally to the Climate Bet and put our blog on the back-burner for a year.

As a first step, of course, we had to seek allies, because we wanted to put our money where our mouths are and roll out the project on a grand scale. Our sponsors helped us to put together seed capital. We are really grateful to these people, because they enabled us to get our ideas up and running. 

The objective is to reach 1,000,000 participants who don’t just sign on the dotted line but are prepared to reduce their CO2 emissions by at least a whole tonne – by supporting climate protection projects or through specific measures in their everyday lives.

  • Riese & Müller is involved and is cycling for the climate:

    The Riese & Müller team is adding up the total kilometres cycled during the Climate Bet summer tour. The higher the total number of kilometres ridden, the higher the donation to the Climate Bet. This sends a strong signal to policy-makers that we can achieve a lot together to promote climate protection.

    Show your commitment to climate protection – and take part in the "Climate Bet"!

Michael Bilharz with the Load

You have been riding a Packster 40 yourself since 2019. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your bike?

The Packster totally fits my blog.  The idea is that sustainable consumption doesn’t necessarily have to feel like brutal self-deprivation. For the same amount of money, I could have booked a family trip to some far-flung destination – and that would have been a form of indulgence as well. The Cargo Bike is my indulgence – but it contributes to long-term, sustainable everyday habits.

And my daily trips come to mind. Thanks to the Cargo Bike, my everyday chores no longer bother me, as everything has now become a bike ride. You stop merely ferrying around your kids, and everyday routes take on a new quality, without the stress of searching for parking spaces or tight turning areas.

Speaking of being parents – would you say that your role as a mother has changed your view of sustainability?

I have been dealing intensively with this issue in my work for a long time. My experience was not comparable to that of “Going Green” author Janine Steeger. She traces her decision to devote her efforts to promoting sustainability back to the moment she saw the images of the Fukushima disaster on television when heavily pregnant with her own child.

But life definitely changes when you have two children. For instance, it is always good for children to have the opportunity to be physically active outside or you can be active along with them. I grew up really into computers, so I have discovered new facets of myself as a person, and I think my perspective has changed over time:

I don’t focus on shortcomings and try to eliminate them but instead ask myself how we can create something completely new and positive.

  • Anna’s favourite hacks for a more sustainable day-to-day life:
    1. If you don’t feel motivated, just make it into a micro-adventure.
      My husband is exhilarated by extreme obstacle courses. When I cycle through the pouring rain, that’s my own smaller-scale extreme sport. Wind and weather add an extra thrill to my everyday life. They’re not a problem with the right clothes on. And the kids love it!
       
    2. Combine your fun with sustainable consumption.
      Protest movements, such as Fridays for Future, are extremely important. But protesting is not fun. People might get the impression that climate change means protesting and self-deprivation. You should really link sustainable consumption to positive experiences. My example is the Cargo Bike: I viewed it as an investment in a sustainable, everyday pleasure and the best proof that deliberate consumption choices are a tool for proactive involvement.
       
    3. Act on your principles, but don’t be overly harsh on yourself.
      You will quickly lose your motivation if you force yourself to be vegan even though you actually love meat or you always ride your bike even in terrible weather. Making exceptions can have a motivating effect. Doing something out of principle is very positive for society. Meaning I can be vegan and cycle, let’s say, 80% of the time, as these lifestyle choices reflect my values. In other words, we are really empowered to bring about change.


About Anna Katharina Meyer

As a political scientist, she learned how to understand community life and global relationships early on. After completing her studies, she worked in Asia and Africa for the German government for five years, with the aim of helping to cut emissions. Equipped with an MBA specialising in renewable energies, the sustainability expert later supported the North Rhine-Westphalian energy transition back in Germany.

Anna is currently undertaking a PhD in sustainability management among established companies to better understand the decision-making processes in energy management. In the unitedsustainability.world team, she is also tackling the major future-centric issues of sustainability accounting, sustainable finance and ecosystem restoration.

Together with Santa Meyer-Nandi and a team of creatives, she also writes the German sustainability blog findingsustainia.org.