Everyone is looking for ways to reduce their negative impact on the environment. It is easy to become overwhelmed by all the tips and advice out there. Living an eco-friendly lifestyle really isn't that hard to do and to prove it we ask you to put yourself to the test.
Take our eco challenge to change your lifestyle in an easy to handle way. Try these five eco challenges over the course of 6 months and see what impact they make on your lifestyle, your wallet and the planet.
Eco Challenge #1 - Black Out
Do you remember those summer and winter storms and the resulting black outs? I am suggesting that you self impose a black out for 6 hours once a week.
Choose a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and pretend you have no electricity. Keep the lights and the TV off. (Don't unplug the fridge - remember I am about being realistic.)
Look at the positive side of having no power - that means no laundry, no Spongebob in the background, no video game sound effects or sporting event white noise.
Don't turn on other things that consume energy like the lawnmower or snowblower. No driving.
This is 6 hours of "me time" and "family time." Play board games, read a book, daydream or take a nap. Do things you wouldn't normally make time for like going for a walk in the rain or having a snow ball fight.
After a month of this you may have a new habit that really improves your family life!
Eco Challenge #2 - Ditch the Bottle
Challenge yourself to stop buying bottled water. The increase of plastic bottles in our landfills in getting out of hand. I once read that a bottle of water cost more per gallon than a gallon of gas! That's what did it for me.
I cringe every time I have to fill up at the pump. No way am I paying a higher price for water.
So what can you do? Get a metal water bottle or a plastic one with a number "5" in the recycle symbol. The #5's are the safest plastic for water.
When a water bottle sits in your car and gets hot, the plastic starts to decompose and releases dangerous chemicals into your water. The two types of bottles above stay stable in all kinds of temperatures.
Get each family member their own color bottle.
Remember you need to do some planning. If you are going out for a while or going to be outdoors in the heat, you have to pack the bottle.
I can't tell you how many times I forgot to grab one. I would feel too guilty to buy a bottle of water so I would wind up buy a soda instead.
Like I said, I am not perfect. I have gotten better at it so my advice to you is give yourself time to adjust to this habit. By the end of 6 months packing a bottle ahead of time will be second nature.
Eco Challenge #3 - Learn a new trick
I refuse to be an "old dog." This eco challenge asks you to learn a new eco-trick each month. For example, learn about other uses for orange peels. Now that's creative.
As you stumble across something you are about to toss, google it and see if other folks have found a way to extend the life of that item.
You will be shocked at what you can find. Bookmark some of the results you find if they give you other ideas you can try a different month.
Have fun with this challenge and involve your kids. Young kids have the greatest imagination and will really help you with this one.
At the end of 6 months you will have learned at least 6 new tricks but I am betting you will have come across and learned twice as many.
Remember keep it easy and keep it real. If something is too strange for you, it will never become part of your life.
Eco Challenge #4 - Go Green Literally
Here's any easy one for you - grow plants. Make a conscious effort to increase the number of living plants in you house. Healthy plants will clean the air for you.
Over the course of 6 months, introduce at least one plant into each room including bedrooms. Note the emphasis on living above, the plants are only good if they are alive - dead plants don't count.
That is why I suggest adding plants slowly so you don't overwhelm yourself with their care. Look for ivy's that just need water and little else.
Let your kids name their plant in their bedroom and make them responsible for watering it.
In rooms where you spend a lot of time together, get more than one plant.
In the kitchen, why not grow your own herbs? You will save money at the same time.
We got the crazy idea to grow tomato plants in our flower boxes this year. I am all about easy - in case you haven't guessed.
Up in my boxes, the rabbits can't get to the plants and I don't have to worry about weeding them. May look a bit strange but do I really care?
Eco Challenge #5 - The Ultimate Challenge
Ok, I've gone easy on you so far. This next eco challenge is much harder than the rest and it isn't for everyone.
It will however, make the biggest impact for the good on your health and the environment. So, have an open mind and at least take the first step to get the information before you rule it out.
This challenge is to stop eating a meat-based diet. I know, I just lost half of you but remember my promise - EASY - well, this diet isn't as hard as you think. If it was, I wouldn't be doing it.
The process of raising animals for food does more damage to the environment than all of the cars, planes and trains combined.
I have found that, with the right motivation, I was able to implement a vegan diet for myself and really cut back on the meat my family consumes - mostly because I refuse to cook it!
I didn't set out to be a vegan, I just wound up there as a result of researching the impact on the environment and the treatment of animals. I ask you to take this first step, which is do your own research on animal farming and its environmental impact or if you want to take the "easy" way, sign up for the free e-series, the Unintentional Vegan at http://www.eco-friendly.digest.com.
So there you have it - 5 eco challenges that you can realistically add to your lifestyle. Good luck.