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We can decide what our planet will look like: Prague opens new exhibition about sustainability

It depends on me what the Earth will be like. This is the motto of a new exhibition that I visited at the National Museum in Prague: an interactive display on how we can contribute to the protection of the environment with concrete actions.

Indeed I was happy to learn that the exhibition itself seeks to promote sustainability not only in its content but also in its execution. In fact, it is built largely from recycled material from the previous exhibition, Sun Kings. At the same time, it is designed in such a way that the material and concept used in the exhibition could be used in the next one after some modifications. Just as an example, thanks to the reuse of existing material, over 15,000 litres of water were preserved, more than 900 kilograms of CO2 were not emitted, which equals the emissions of 139 Czech inhabitants per day and over 194,000 megajoules (MJ) of energy were saved, which is what 239 refrigerators would consume yearly. An aspect that is usually underestimated when talking about sustainability.

The exhibition, ongoing until the end of June, is divided into seven thematic sections focused mainly on consumption (fashion, food, water), production (waste) and perception of the environment around us (landscape, biodiversity). The seventh section, called upcycling, is also focused on promoting creativity.

One of the most interesting blocks for me was the one dedicated to food waste. It is indeed one of my personal resolutions to waste less food, something in which honestly I haven’t succeeded entirely. At least, not yet. It was nice to see that there were some families with children at the exhibition. It is from our homes that the real change can happen. My mother always used to say that every time I left food on my plate, a child would starve from the other side of the world. Well, maybe I didn’t personally cause the death of children around the world, but I definitely contributed to my town’s and region’s food waste issue. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), almost 700 million people suffer from hunger, yet it’s estimated that one-third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted. And as reported by multinational groceries retailer TESCO, the environmental impact of food waste is significant: 40 per cent of food is uneaten and food waste is responsible for 9 per cent of total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

exhibition

At the Czech exhibition, you could learn what is the difference between “expiry date” and “best before”. In fact, even though, according to the date on the package, some food appears to have expired we do not have to throw them away instantly. In the Czech Republic, an average person throws away 33 kilograms of food per year. And, at the same time, the food we eat often comes from every corner of the Earth, very distant from where we are. The “food” section was also promoting local food, by explaining which ingredients are Czech and what we should prefer to reduce food waste.

Another very interesting island was the one dedicated to the consumption of water. An entire activity was dedicated to what happens to water in our homes and how we can manage it sustainably. From turning off the tap when we brush our teeth to recycling the water we use in the dishwasher and washing machine. Also in the case of water, like with food, it is important to know where it comes from. The Museum prepared an interactive map, highlighting all the water reservoirs in the country, like the Švihov one from which water is treated in the Želivka plant and from there, it travels almost 52 kilometres to Prague, where it supplies 73 per cent of the population.

exhibition

The other thematic areas focused on textile waste and the emissions coming from the fashion industry (which we covered in a separate article); how to protect biodiversity (very nice the telescope that points to a bird feeder in the garden, where I was lucky enough to catch a multicoloured bird that was eating); or how to recycle in the most efficient way.

Climate change (like the recent droughts and fires) was also a recurrent theme at the Czech Press photo exhibition, which was happening next door. Another sign of how the protection of the environment is stepping into every aspect of our lives, like in the arts landscape. As looking at the devastation caused mainly by human activities (at the press photo exhibition) made me sad and angry with our species, “playing” at the Earth is me show, surrounded by cheerful children made me hopeful for the future. It is a small change that can have a big effect on the world around us. And, as the exhibit was saying, the decision to participate in this change, is only ours.

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