Want a greener lifestyle, but feeling intimidated? Change can be hard, but challenging yourself to trying something for a set amount of time is a great way to kick start a lifestyle change. Try one of these eco-challenges for the rest of April and see how it goes. You may be surprised at how easily something that seemed intimidating can become old hat!
Buy Nothing (New) Challenge: There are many good reasons to take a break from spending money. You save on gas, shipping, waste, and resources. Plus you save money and use up what you have. All good things. If you aren't quite ready to go whole hog Buy Nothing, you will definitely do a lot of good with the Buy Nothing NEW Challenge, which focuses on choosing to buy used products instead of new. There are a lot of resources on the Buy Nothing Challenge online because it is such a good choice financially as well as environmentally. Do an Ecosia search today!
Weekday Vegetarian or Vegan Before Six: Both of these challenges focus on reducing your meat consumption without giving up meat all together. You can read all about why here. After a month of either of these lifestyles, you'll at least know lots more vegetarian dishes to add to your repertoire. Other ideas for working toward a healthier relationship with meat include, Vegetarian at Home, One Meal a Day, or Local Meat Only.
Shop Local Challenge (AKA Amazon-Free Challenge): Choosing to support local businesses is not only good for the local economy, it's good for the Earth too. There are more and more great places to buy low and zero waste products as well as locally produced food, clothing, and other products. Check out our Green Business List to see who is selling great stuff.
Plastic Free Challenge: Go plastic free until May! Last year my mom participated in the Plastic Free July Challenge and it was a big eye-opener for her. Despite spending a lot of time in our low waste home, she didn't realize how much plastic waste she was generating on a daily basis until she decided to stop for a month. She isn't plastic-free anymore, but she is definitely more conscientious about her plastic usage after the experience.
Compost 101 Challenge: Learn about composting and get to it! You'd be amazed how easy it is to reduce your garbage by half, while simultaneously creating great soil. This Spring, start composting either through a service or in your backyard. You can start small with a tumbler or build a full three-bin system (I'm planning on building one myself this summer after ten years with a tumbler). Learn all about composting here.
On the Go Challenge: Challenge yourself to rethink your transportation options. Find a ride-share, take the bus or train, bike/walk to work, or ask about working from home. Bundle your errands with other tasks (think grocery shopping on your way home from soccer practice) so you aren't always jumping in the car. Each time you get in the car (or call for delivery), ask yourself, "is this a necessary use of fossil fuel?"
Stay Local Challenge: Choose a radius that feels comfortable to you (we chose New England) and invest in Staycations instead of flying around the world. Not only do you get to know your local area better, but you save money, emissions, and stress. Check out my New Hampshire State Parks page to see how we're staying local this year.
Invest in the Future Challenge: Choose something you do regularly, like buying takeout coffee, getting your nails done, going out to eat, etc and tally up how much money you spend on that habit per day, week, or month. Instead of spending money on those superfluous habits, invest your money in the future of our planet by donating to one of these organizations instead.
Grow Something Challenge: Okay, so I made this one up because you all know I love gardening so much and it's Spring, which is the most exciting time for gardening and gardening is all I'm thinking about right now. Yes, I wrote "gardening" three times in that sentence. But, in all seriousness, choosing to create a pollinator garden or vegetable garden is a lifestyle change you'll never regret. Or plant a tree! Provide future shade, absorb some carbon dioxide, and add beauty to your yard at the same time. Learn all about my gardening adventures here.
One More Thing Challenge: A great way to make multiple changes over time is to add a new lifestyle change each day, week, month, season, or year. Choose several of the above challenges and try each on for size. Keep what works from each and you'll have made a big change even if none of them sticks entirely.
Wishing you a happy Earth Day, Earth Week, Earth Month, and Earth Year. I hope at least one of these challenges will help you on your path to sustainable living.