Whether your a beginner or experienced Eco-Lifer, the Eco Life Challenge is a fun way to brush up on your green game, share your experiences with others and win some totally excellent prizes!
Day 1: Replace Single Use with Reusable
It’s no secret plastic is terrible for the environment and most single use is comprised of it. It breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces and end up in every spectrum of our environment, from the dirt to the birds and the seas. There are so many opportunities to eliminate single use in our daily lives and refuse plastic! Here are some common places where we think reuse and refuse would serve you well:
- shopping bags and produce bags (keep ‘em in the car already! -- I'm secretly talking to myself here)
- straws (we can all agree these are totally useless -- right? Well, if not, you can buy stainless steel ones online)
- cutlery (Don't Waste Durham is making it stylish and ever-so-easy to carry cutlery around with their reusable cutlery holder kit, complete with bamboo fork, knife, napkin, and that stainless steel straw you can't live without) available online soon and at marketing events
- water bottles (I carry a 100 oz Kleen Kanteen with me where every I go! Stay hydrated, save money, feel good)
- coffee mugs (copy above, except I use a HydroFlask. Added perk - coffee shops usually give a discount for bringing one and are nice about rinsing them out)
Read more about the Reuse Movement and Durham County's waste stream.
Day 2: Start a Compost Pile / Sign Up for Service
Food waste is a giant problem in our country -- Americans throw nearly half of all food away that is produced! And when food scraps end up in a landfill, we have an even bigger problem. Because it's biodegrading in the middle of non-biodegrading things, pockets of explosive ( ! ) methane form, which is far worse than your run-of-the mill carbon emissions.
Luckily for us, Durham and the Triangle community are planting the seeds to be a composting hub of the Southeast. Even if you can’t manage to compost your own food waste, there are a couple of composting services to choose from, including Tilthy Rich + Compost Now. Read more about composting in our blog post, The Good, The Bad... The Dirty and learn more from the NC Composting Council.
Day 3: Eat Vegetarian for One Full Day
Take the day off and give the animals a break! Even just reducing the amount of meat you eat cuts major carbon points, so good for you. Deforestation, methane emissions, and water pollution (remember Hurricane Matthew?) are heavily fueled by big animal agriculture, which emit approximately 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. Skipping the meat will mean good for your wealth, good for your health, good for the earth, and a better day for the animals. (Pst - the average American meat eater consumes ~25 chickens per year. How many is that in your lifetime?? Cutting back seems smarter than ever!)
Day 4: Ok, We Are Serious About the Water Bottle...
When we carry water from our faucet in reusable bottles we are hitting so many important sustainability points; we are consuming water from our local community supply (as opposed to water being taken from another -possibly water insecure- community), we eliminate the carbon used to transport it (water is heavy!), and we lessen the demand and consumption of single use plastic bottles (drinking from plastic isn't healthy for us anyway --no brainer, right?).
Read a parallel article on The Art of the Refill.
Day 5: Plant Some Food
Dig in, get dirty, and grow something you can munch on! Plant a mini herb garden or a bunch of tomatoes -- whatever it is you sow, you'll feel nice twice enjoying the feeling of earth in your hands and food flavors in your mouth. (ps - that compost will come in handy right about...now).
Day 6: Grocery Shop Locally
Shopping locally keeps more money here, especially when we can make it to the Farmer’s Market and buy directly from the growers. Food at conventional grocery stores is generally more processed (read: packaging waste and ingredients that aren't great for you), can travel long, carbon heavy distances and is harder to track the source of. Knowing our farmers and those who serve us at our local shops is knowing our neighbors and our food.
Day 7: Get Outside!
Connecting with and enjoying nature is one of the best ways to be inspired to protect it! So turn off your headphones and head to the hills or the river, wherever you feel called. Listen to the birds and the sounds of nature and come back to the city feeling revived. Added bonus? It's totally free and Durham is loaded with parks.
Day 8: Upcycle Would Be Trash
Sometimes, to be Eco-Warriors, we need to think creatively. Maybe that egg container can double as a seed starter. A broken blender can become a planter. A defunct garden hose can be used to hang bikes or tools in your garden shed. Don’t make throwing things away your default. Instead, consider: how can I use this item again or does anyone else I know need this thing?
Day 9: Research the Eco Friendliness of your Favorite Brand
The fashion industry is one of the top 3 global polluters; the production process, transportation, all the way to the end of it's short life in the dumpster. It's time to ditch Fast Fashion and graduate to Conscious Consumerism. Even with the media exposure of poor and unsafe working conditions people in sweatshops are still making our clothes. We believe it's better to buy fewer things that are of higher quality with a transparent supply chain. Sure, there's a price to be paid, but there's a hefty return of quality, longevity, classic versatility, craftsmanship, and sustainability.
See how your favorite brands stack up at Project Just (you can look up 3 brands for free every month). Shop differently with Indio Durham, The Patchwork Market, Liberation Threads, Reid Miller, Rivtak, Maven Women, Bead and Reel and look for USA made, fair trade, and second hand items.
Day 10: Take a Stroll and Pick Up Trash
As simple as it sounds, I think this can really make a difference. Litter pollution in America overwhelms me but I feel good knowing that the particular straw I pick up off the ground or chunk of styrofoam won't end up in a sea creature. There's also the added bonus of setting an example to our neighbors and onlookers. Maybe they'll be inspired by your good vibes to throw their trash in the proper receptacle or, hells bells, do some picking up on their own!