Adopting new habits to make the world a little greener.
Studies indicate that it takes 21 days to form a new habit.
So for the month of April, and in honor of Earth Day, the FP Community was challenged to a game of Earth Month Bingo, in hopes of encouraging small changes that support the planet in meaningful ways — with enough time to make them (hopefully) stick.
(For those who participated and submitted a winning Bingo card, a winner will be randomly selected to receive a new FreeCycled Tee or a National Parks pass!)
We resolved to implement these earth-friendly habits into our everyday routines starting on April 1st through Earth Day, on April 22nd. Here’s what happened:
Never one to shy away from a challenge, especially when they involve improving my habits and, consequently, helping the environment, I’m eagerly joining the FP community and going through the list.
Some of the items are simple and — I’m happy to discover — already part of my routine:
DON’T WASTE WATER Hearing the faucet running while I am brushing my teeth is enough to make me crazy! I didn’t have a dishwasher growing up, everything was washed by hand, and my father was a stickler for not wasting anything that could rack up a high bill. “Turn that water off!”. Not wasting water is ingrained in me, so I can cross this off the list.
REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE & REUSABLE MUG. For this I have to thank Free People and their generous Earth Day gifts. Two years ago I received a beautiful ceramic mug, and last year an awesome water bottle that I’ve even been using at home because it is so practical. Checking these two off the list as well.
RECYCLING GLASS & CARDBOARD. I just moved to an area where recycling is mandatory, so one of my first kitchen purchases was a double trash can with a recycling bin. Having separate receptacles when I go to throw something out is a great reminder to recycle. Check! So far, so good.
Now, let’s get to the tricky part.
GOING VEGETARIAN is a challenge I want to pursue this month, but one I know will be tough. I really love food, all types of food. Steak frites, a juicy cheeseburger with fries, a plate of fresh oysters, a delicious BLT… I could go on forever. Despite this, I know there are multiple benefits to going veg, and saving animals is only one of them. Avoiding meat and fish will force me to add more color and variety to my plate, providing me with all the vitamins and antioxidants needed to ward off numerous ailments. But did you know that runoff from farmlands is one of the greatest threats to water quality today? Being a vegetarian is good for our body as well as the environment! This will likely be the toughest adjustment for the next three weeks, but I am eager to try it!
I had a big argument with my roommate today (aka my fiancé) over paper towels.
I know. *Eye roll*!
Through the years I have learned to pick my battles, believe me, but it’s Earth Month, and I am taking this challenge seriously. I just don’t understand the need for ten sheets of paper towel when there is a perfectly clean towel hanging on the oven! He claims it isn’t sanitary but I disagree. I grew up having a cloth towel in the kitchen for drying my hands, or drying clean dishes, and I am very good at ensuring it is regularly washed. I’ll start locking the paper towel rolls away just to keep him from being so wasteful. For now, all I can do is make up for it elsewhere, so the challenge continues.
Spring is here and it has brought us some beautiful sunny days! To take full advantage of the sunshine, and keep my lights turned off, I decided to move my desk to a different room, right in front of the screen door into our yard. I am not the only one loving this recent furniture reshuffle. Whenever I leave the door cracked to enjoy the NATURAL LIGHT and the fresh air, my dogs love to lay at my feet, enjoying the breeze with me while also watching out for dogs walking by our house.
Earth Day is fast approaching and I am proud to say I have stuck to a vegetarian diet. Truth be told, I miss some of my favorite Italian staples — pasta Bolognese, lasagna… hearty, warm dishes that nourish my belly and my soul. The Italian in me can’t help it! But it has been fun to try out new veggie recipes. One of my favorites is just as hearty as some of my favorite dishes, but it’s meat-free and easy to make! Shakshuka — a classic North African and Middle Eastern dish — features poached eggs in a hearty, spiced tomato and pepper sauce, topped with tangy feta cheese and fresh cilantro, served with thick slices of country bread for dipping. It originated as a breakfast dish, but I’ve enjoyed it for dinner multiple times this month and it is as delicious and nourishing as it sounds. For the recipe, click here.
It’s the last day of our Earth Month Challenge and I am proud of myself for being able to check off quite a few items off my Bingo card. Some of the other changes I adopted this month:
PAPERLESS BILLING. I’ve been practicing this with some of my bills. This month I simply went through the rest and made sure no paper bills would be coming my way ever again.
DOUBLE-SIDED PRINTING. On the busiest printing day of my week (Monday), I avoid printing anything single-sided. And recently I even avoided printing in color. The less ink and paper I use, the better I feel.
SPREAD THE WORD & CLEAN UP. Last summer I moved to a small community in NJ’s Pine Barrens. Right out of a fairy tale, the neighborhood is nestled among trees, dotted by original log cabins from the 1920s, and connected by trails. To top it all off, there are multiple lakes which offer the residents five different sized beaches complete with docks. This month, I reached out to the community to organize a Clean Up Day to get our communal places ready for the approaching summer season. Tonight I will be attending my first community meeting to finalize the details of the event.
HAPPY EARTH DAY!!
The FP Community Earth Month challenge ends today, but every day of the year is a great day to help our planet by changing our habits.
Save this Bingo graphic and challenge yourself or your friends! Let us know about your experience in the comments.