Join me in challenging yourself to make real change become a new habit in 30 days. We all aspire to live more eco-friendly lives, so let’s inspire one another with our changes.
I love New Year as a time of reflection on the closing year and optimism about the coming year. You probably already know that resolutions are difficult to keep. Generally, people choose actions that are difficult for them to take, wishes for their changed future. Then, people gradually, naturally resist change, and the resolutions fall by the wayside.
This past year, I did a decent job of making some big changes. I did a rotten job (again) of taking specific actions, though. This tells me what I should already know: I’ll only do what I want to do, and what I want to do changes over the course of a year.
So, as I’m thinking about the coming year, I’m asking myself what worked well last year—not to congratulate myself but to see if I can learn from that pattern. I kept making changes and adjusting what changes I made to build core strength and health, and I made those changes because I felt great. The better I felt, the easier it was to make more changes and to make those changes habits that I don’t resist. My conclusion is that only the underlying WHY kept me moving toward change.
So, this year I want to ask myself WHY I want to make changes before I create a list of resistible actions. I want to focus on one area where I seem to have had some trouble in the past. I’m looking at what is blocking my way from making change, and I want to propose a similar challenge for you.
At bynature.ca we carry information and products to inspire natural families. Here on our blog, EcoBabySteps, we want to help you get where you are going in your own time. That is exactly what I want us to do in this challenge: that one small step after another toward the natural life we (you and I) aspire to.
Our 30-day Eco Habits Challenge
Today, take one baby step to nudge yourself toward eco change. Just one tiny step. Then, tomorrow take another. Make it small enough every day that it doesn’t hurt—or only hurts a little. Make your daily step irresistible.
So it won’t be overwhelming, I’m going to start with a 30-day challenge. If I can make it through my first 30 days, I will add a new 30-day challenge for myself next month. If you want to stop after 30 days, that’s OK. We’re all choosing our own challenges.
Also, to keep me on track and accountable, I will check in with you in a month.
- Your Area. Choose an area where you want to make change
- Name It. Get out a piece of paper and write “My 30-day Eco Challenge” along with the name you are giving your area
- List Steps. List 50 baby steps you could take in that area
- Stay Accountable. Tell someone else or a group of people about your challenge
- Remind Yourself. Put your list where you and others can see it
- Start. Take one step. Start with a hard one or an easy one—doesn’t matter. Just take one step.
Potential Areas for Your Eco Challenge
If you already know what area you are ready to face for your challenge, stop reading and start now.
If you need ideas, I’ve added a few areas with ideas under each just to get you thinking. Take what works and add to the items on the list until you have at least 50 ideas.
Why 50 ideas? By the end of the month, you really won’t want to do some of the items on your list. If you don’t want to, you won’t. So, give yourself enough choice that unrealistic, overly ambitious, or just odious items don’t become your roadblocks.
- Don’t buy new stuff
- Repair stuff that is broken or worn
- Clean, paint, or otherwise renew old stuff
- If you’ve been hanging on to old stuff you don’t use anymore, let go of it. Send it somewhere it can become someone else’s useful stuff.
- Research a topic that you’ve been wondering about, like GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or natural remedies for common ailments
- Set up a Google alert for your topic, so you get a daily reminder
- Join a discussion group on your topic, so you can share knowledge with others
- Go to the library and get a children’s book on your topic. Read it with your kids
- Remove barriers to sleep (tough for parents of babies)
- Drink more water. Add a squirt of lemon or organic apple cider vinegar to your first glass of the day.
- Build muscle tone in your idle moments
- Switch to a doctor who will listen to your concerns about conventional medicine
- Take public transportation to work
- Teach your children to use public transportation
- Service your bicycle
- Take your kids and dog for a walk
- Buy new socks or repair old ones so you don’t have an excuse not to walk
- Replace toxic cleaning chemicals with natural alternatives
- Add an air-cleaning house plant in one room, then in another
- Clean out an old cabinet full of junk and fill it with something sitting around waiting for a place to go
- Open your kitchen cabinets and see where the plastic is. How could you replace that plastic with glass, metal, wood, or another material? Make a plan.
- Teach your children to turn off the lights when they leave a room
- Open the blinds rather than turning on the lights
- Turn the heat down and put on a sweater
- Look around the edges of all of your doors. Do you see light? If so, replace the weatherstripping.
Food & Drink
- Look at your coffee package. Is it fair trade, shade grown, and organic? If not, research a new brand
- Clear out your refrigerator and re-organize to put the healthiest foods where you will notice them first
- Look in your freezer. Is there anything you reach for often that you could make from scratch, from whole foods instead?
- Do you have a local CSA? It’s time to sign up. Find out how much it will cost and get on the list now.
- Clear out clothes that don’t feel great on you and give them to someone else
- Repair clothes that you’ve been avoiding because of wear
- Look at your tags. Where are your clothes made? If not where you think, consider researching clothing made locally
- Give away kids clothes that are too small
- Move your summer clothes out of the way until you need them so you really know what winter clothes you have
My Eco Habits Challenge
I wrote above that I’m looking at what is blocking me from making change, and it has become apparent to me that the blocks are actual piles of stuff blocking my way. Does that happen to you? You make a pile of stuff that is very important then you set it aside to deal with it later—and later doesn’t quite come. My other issue is that I moved into my mother’s house when she died, so I’ve been living around her stuff for a long time. I’m ready to clear out what I can’t or don’t use and share it with others. I am going to deal with the stuff in my way and help others as I go.
I’ve already started this over the past week. I got rid of 8-year old magazines that I’ve been stepping over. I kept them because I hadn’t read them yet. I didn’t read them. I just put them into the recycling. I also asked my husband to take a pile of boxes from my sewing room to recycling. He filled our car completely full and opened up a big space for me. We always recycle, but we don’t have curbside pickup. We have to save everything, fill our car, and take it to our city recycling center. We don’t question that; it’s a well established habit. But, getting rid of big items is sometimes more difficult for us to face because we only have a small car.
Nevertheless, I’m ready to meet the challenge. I’m ready to let go of stuff and open up my space. I figure that by the time I make it to the end of one month of moving all of this stuff out of my way, I will not want to fill up the space with more stuff. I hope that the habit will be one of maintaining clean and open space.
I won’t bore you with my list of 50 items (actually 70 and growing), but I’ll share a few. For bigger items, I created sub-items that I can count as a daily baby step. My list is big and scary already. I can feel my resistance welling up, but I find it comforting that I only need to do one little thing a day. I know I can do that.
30 Days: Jan 1-30
My area: Make Space & Recycle Stuff
- Give away old kid clothes
- /Go through 1 box of kid clothes (anything to wash, repair, or save?)
- Give away old adult clothes
- /Go through 1 shelf or drawer of adult clothes (anything to wash, repair, or save?)
- Give away my mom’s quilting books
- /Put quilting books in a box
- /Call library to see if they want books for their sale
- Put baby books in storage
- Get rid of old furniture
- /Empty a drawer of photos and set aside for new storage
- /List furniture for giveaway on Craig’s List or local paper
- Get new storage that uses space better
- /Measure one space and check available cabinets
- /Move stuff in the way into new cabinet
If you make a list, drop us a note or leave a comment. I want to know what you are ready to tackle—and I know it will help you if you tell someone.
Image © Jason Stitt | Dreamstime.com