Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day - wrapping up my One Small Change efforts

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.


  1. Thanks for the wrap up Sara! I enjoyed reading about your changes and am excited that you plan to continue on!

    Congratulations on all your changes!
    We are keeping the blog active year round, so stop by for blog posts offering support for those who wish to continue the challenge, ideas, inspiration, and guest blog posts. If you would like to be a guest blogger, we would love to have you (email me at
    Thanks and congrats on all your efforts!

  2. Good for you! You are really dedicated to this effort!

    We are also limiting our meat consumption and trying to remove plastics from our daily lives. And I have a shopping problem that I really need to work on: it's called Amazon! It's just so easy to have books delivered to my door instead of making a trip to the library or waiting while the book I want is on hold...