I love the way challenges can build a community on the internet, but I've never had one as wonderful as the One Small Change community has been. For the last four months, amazing people have been making one change a month in their lifestyles to try and be better to the earth. It has been inspiring and supportive, and a great challenge.
Starting out in January, I thought I was already living a very green lifestyle. "What could I change?" I thought. Well, we found things we could change.
January - we decided to stop shopping altogether. We didn't buy anything all month (except food), and the process we learned some good things about our consumer habits. Especially for me, I had to confront my use of shopping as an emotional "pick me up". After the month was up we wanted to maintain a more rational level of consumerism, but it has been a slippery slope. I'm going to have to keep watching this one, so that I truly do only buy what I need.
February - we decided to try and cut disposable plastic out of our lifestyle. What I discovered was how incredibly pervasive plastic is in our culture. We haven't reached a complete elimination of it (yet), but we've been able to reduce it with bulk bin shopping for more food and shampoos and soaps, by switching to baking soda and vinegar instead of packaged household cleaners, and with other careful shopping habits.
March - I really wanted to switch to alternative transportation. Although I did manage to bus and bike a bit more, it wasn't as much as I had wanted to do. What it made me realize was how much easier all this was before I had kids. I used to bus and bike all the time - in fact I didn't have a car while I was in college. But I cannot (yet) figure out how to transport two kids who have become too large for a bike trailer and yet not large enough to ride their own bikes through traffic, and get everywhere we need to go for a working mom with kids going different places to school. I need an electric car! The transportation challenge continues ...
April - we've cut back our meat consumption and pledged to try and eat only local, ethically raised meat. It's been much easier than the other challenges, as we live in a vegetarian-friendly community and have discovered good (if expensive) sources of ethically raised meat. The kids and I don't mind eating vegetarian, either.
This is the official end of the challenge, but I want to continue pushing myself. I'm going to do a "refresh old changes" month next month, and go back to "no shopping, no plastic, and car-free days". I'll keep posting about our efforts to live in line with our values.