There are likely an infinite number small ways a person could go green this year. There are other bigger and important ways an individual, or even greater still a community, a society, a nation, can create positive change for our health and the environment.
For some it begins with the change of a lightbulb as each old incandescent burns out. For others it may be remembering to use those reusable bags you have stacked in the hall closet for groceries and other purchases. You may be driven by a change in your life, perhaps a pregnancy or new baby. You may be driven by an illness or the threat of one. Whatever the reasons, whatever the cause, to truly change any habit you need to time and dedication.
30 Days of Change Challenge
We have a whole year of changes to make and make them we can. Each month of this year tackle one new change and make it stick for your 30 days – and beyond.. Think past the lightbulbs and the shopping bags and dig a little deeper into what can make a great impact.
Here is my list for the first half of 2013:
January: Focus on the First of the 3 Rs. This month my family is going to learn to reduce what we buy and bring home. When the dentist offers yet another bouncy ball that is only bound to get stuck behind the refrigerator, we are going to politely decline. We are going to be more thoughtful about the things we bring into the house – useful, practical, long-lasting, necessary, and of course some fun, but no more junk. My 4-year-old offers the suggestion of a doctor’s prize or birthday party goody bag could include a wrench because those are very useful to have. We’re trying.
February: Green Your Sleep. We spend at least 1/3 of our lives sleeping and our children even more. My daughter will finally be rid of her crib (which is converted to a toddler daybed now) and into a twin bed. I have already found great organic bedding and have saved for one of the top eco-friendly, organic mattresses. Most conventional mattresses contain a host of potentially toxic chemicals while conventional cotton is one of the most pesticide reliant crops grown. I would love to switch us all over to organic mattresses, but am working my way through as necessity and resources allow.
March: Plant A Garden. Are you upset with the current state of our food system? Grow your own, as much as you can. Seasoned gardeners will know that there is no end to what you can grow and when, if you have the right tools to do it. This year I plan to expand our small garden into the front yard and use the great southern exposure there to grow even more. I hope to learn more this year than I did last year and expand upon it with every bean, berry, and squash with the ultimate goal of understanding the permaculture of my own back (and front) yard.
April: Green The Clean. This is a broad goal that anyone can work on. I already use lots of homemade cleaners and reusable cloths when I clean. My personal goal for this month is to dust the toxins away. Indoor dust contains a plethora of toxins that we often bring in from the outside – arsenic, lead, pesticides, DDT – that if it is allowed to sit or is stirred up by careless attempts to clean, is inhaled or swallowed potentially causing harm. Dust doesn’t need harsh chemicals to take care of it, just a little time, a good vacuum and a damp cloth. Taking shoes off when going inside is a great help too.
May: Eat Real Food. I enjoy the simplicity of Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, but recognize how difficult it is for many people to actually follow – myself included. I am a big believer in supporting our local farms as best we can. That means eating what they grow in season and staying away from the processed foods.
June: Shop Consciously. This follows up on last month’s groceries and extends to all shopping habits. We should be more thoughtful about where our products come from and what effect that has on human and environmental rights. It may mean saving money to buy higher quality goods than a higher quantity or it may mean reusing, fixing what we already have. It may even mean paying attention to little details you might otherwise have overlooked: excess packaging, materials, or country of origin.
Be sure to come back for Part 2!
What is one thing you would like to tackle this month, or any month, to benefit your health and the environment?