Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Reflections on Earth Month and the Chalkboard Challenge

Image credits: This gorgeous pic is a stock photo freebie from PixaBay.

I stumbled across the Chalkboard Magazine 30 Day Eco Challenge for Earth Month via Twitter and have been enjoying the weekly prompts for daily green activities throughout April [Week 1 (Introduction) | Week 2 (Kitchen) | Week 3 (Closet) | Week 4 (Habitat) | Week 5 (Self-Care) - Tackle it anytime, not just Earth Month].  Here are my end-of-month reflections on how we're doing:
  1. Drive Less, Move More - The dogs make sure that I'm on the move everyday: they're great all-weather personal trainers! Our city center location may have downsides for gardening, but allows me to walk instead of drive for almost all of my daily needs. 
  2. Unplug and Reconnect - I can't remember the last time that I actually went 24 hours without checking in; however, I am making an effort to take more time for mindfulness, reading, and hobbies. The latter is a bit of a compromise as some craft supplies aren't the greenest, but it's a considered compromise between joy, purpose, durability, and being green - it is our "real life" after all.
  3. Kick Back and Get Educated - I do enjoy a good documentary. Food, Inc. still haunts me. 
  4. Refuse Reuse - We're doing well in most areas, but I still get caught out by disposable coffee cups sometimes as well as the plastic bags.  I happily carry a cloth bag or two, but still have a love-hate relationship with grocery bags as I would love to eliminate them completely, but also find having a few on hand useful.
  5. BYOB - No issues with water or bottles, but coffee cups still catch me (see the 4th) on rare occasions when I grab something to-go.
  6. Create a Portable Eco-Arsenal - I don't need an arsenal, not withstanding my issues with cups and bags (see the 4th and 5th).
  7. Go Meatless - Everyday or every month. :)  I do still eat eggs and dairy, but make an effort to shop locally with care (see the 3rd ref Food, Inc.) and also try to do the same when buying food for our pets.
  8. Shop the Farmer's Market - Local options are limited, but we do enjoy roadside honesty-box stalls when opportunity presents.
  9. Shift How You Shop - This frustrates me the most when trying to make greener choices.  With consistent recycling and composting (see the 10th), our rubbish is almost entirely packaging materials...and dog poop. Almost everything (produce excluded) comes pre-packed in our local shops and BYO isn't an option for the few bulk items. Slowly perhaps as things change for the positive.
  10. Consider Compost - I would love to make and use our own compost, but it isn't really viable at volume in our urban space, so we pay for a bin and pick-up service.  Works great!
  11. Detox Your Closet - I did a giant cull before/during our last move and try to do this seasonally.
  12. Don't Trash Your Fash - Whether relegated to DIY-wear for messy jobs or rags, we try to get the most out of things before they make it to the trash.  I do make pet toys (our dogs have their own DIY blog), but find many fabrics aren't up to the challenge of our rambunctious boys so recycling materials into dog toys is done with care.
  13. Clean Up Your Laundry Act - We've been cold-water washing for years and don't own a dryer.  It is tough in wet weather with large items like sheets and towels, but we make it work.  A standard drying rack is a handy supplement to the outdoor clothes line and using a portable closet rail with sturdy hangers for things like dress shirts and blouses works brilliantly for wrinkle-free closet-ready drying without ironing.
  14. Buy Nothing
  15. Spread the Love
  16. Shop Second Hand - No fab local options, but my wardrobe is currently healthy (see the 11th and 14th) without more shopping.
  17. Calculate Your Carbon Footprint - According to a very rough estimate on the Chalkboard linked calculator, my footprint is around 4.69 metric tons/year (including household energy) vs. (according to the calculator) a national average of 7.8, industrial average of 11, global average of 4, and climate change target of 2.  Not terrible, but I'm working on small changes every day to be better.
  18. Mitigate Home Disposables - We've made great progress here in the last few years.  Cloth is the norm for all tasks, although an emergency roll of paper towel is on hand for rare unpleasant exceptions (like dog vomit).  My lingering dependencies are mostly kitchen based, like the occasional use of baking paper and freezer bags - especially for pre-prepped homemade dog food.  I use the lowest waste bags that I can find and keep them in larger rectangular boxes for structure (very flimsy) and cramming thing in with some semblance of order (we only have the in-fridge freezer). Suggestions are, as always, welcome!
  19. Curate a Minimalist Abode -  We're not minimalists, but do make sure that anything surplus is either given, donated, or sold.
  20. Strip Down - Our electrical outlets are all switched. Easy peasy!
  21. Do a Mail Cull
  22. Plants Not Flowers - Yes...I asked for garden mulch for Valentine's Day. The delivery truck driver was quite dismayed when my husband said it was my Valentine's present. Hehe. There are some special occasions when cut flowers have their place, but plants are always my fav.
  23. Let There be Better Light
  24. Go Digital
  25. DIY Your Beauty - Some of our personal care products are DIY, but most are commercial. We've been making an effort with smarter shopping (see the 27th) and considered consumption.
  26. Bathe Better - I'm happy to short shower, but prefer it hot (post summer-time running excluded). We have flow control and instantaneous gas water heating, which help reduce the impact of my warm water ways.
  27. Become Label Savvy - I try, although it's not always easy to decipher (perhaps deliberate) cryptic labels. Getting better though!
  28. Repurpose Stylishly
  29. Green the Crimson Wave - Err...I'll think about it.
  30. Create Lasting Habits - We're trying. Everyday. :)
If you didn't get a chance to take part during Earth Month, don't let that stop you. Whether you want to take it as a 30-Day Challenge, a weekly prompt, or a one-shot self-assessment, I encourage you to check things out for personal food for green(er) thought.

Challenge links: Week 1 (Introduction) | Week 2 (Kitchen) | Week 3 (Closet) | Week 4 (Habitat) | Week 5 (Self-Care) 


  1. Well done and good that you have a real life spin on the challenge and everything here. Sometimes it feel like people are judging hard and if someone is not doing everything green theyre part of the bad problems the same as if you werent trying at all. I will read the challenge and try to be more positive that I do matter even if not perfect.

    1. I was so happy to read your comment! I feel that way sometimes too, like I am the devil for using a plastic bag or mopping up a nasty mess with paper towels. I genuinely do believe that every little bit matters, and it is important to make an ongoing effort not just be pass/fail about these things. Take the challenge as an inspiration and aspiration, not a test or a standard. Good luck and comment/message us anytime if you need encouragement or simply to encourage us. :)


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