May is officially over so we have finished our Extreme Eco-Challenge. Our original goal of eliminating plastic was completely abandoned and our goal of generating no trash for a month was replaced with the goal of minimizing trash generation. Will and I both agree that we did pretty well keeping our trash to a minimum – until we went on vacation. We could have done a lot better during our travels but it would have required a lot more preparation, especially in terms of meal planning. I had forgotten how much trash is generated from eating fast food on the road.
Frankly, I found the eco-challenge pretty frustrating. It was an unhappy reminder of how much of an impact I have on the planet by doing normal every day things like eating. Yes, it is possible to eat without generating trash but it requires a drastic change in lifestyle that I don’t quite feel ready for. I wish there was an easy alternative that would allow me to live trash-free. Can’t we get all our food from reusable/recyclable containers made with basic materials so I never have to search for the little number on the bottom again? Would it be so hard to use regular paper for junk mail, package inserts, receipts, and other pseudo-paper debris that accumulates on my desk and challenges me to guess whether or not it’s recyclable? Could the world stop making weird little plastic knick-knacks?
Still, we have identified a few areas where we can reduce our trash generation. I feel slightly more motivated to experiment with making crackers and chips after collecting empty snack bags for three weeks. I’m also rededicating myself to the use of handkerchiefs and cloth menstrual pads. And I’m sure we’ll continue to be aware of our trash generation and be more conscious about keeping it to a minimum where we can.
June is a fresh new month and I’ve decided to embrace a new challenge… bicycling. I have biked a little already this spring, just enough to rediscover some muscles I have been ignoring for years. Now that it has warmed up, I’m ready to get my body in shape and reduce my carbon footprint. The big challenge is that I’m really lazy and it’s soooo easy just to drive everywhere. Luckily, I’m also cheap so I’ve devised a motivational strategy that involves money. Every time I drive somewhere I could have taken my bike, I will put $5 in the incentive jar. (I’m allowing myself to drive to places that are beyond my normal bicycle range, which right now is about 5 miles.)
Hmmmm. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the money at the end of the month. Will says he just finished reading about a website called StickK that helps people create contracts motivating them to reach their goals and they suggested giving the money to a charity that is contrary to your personal beliefs. However, I’m not quite ready to pledge money to the Hummer Association of America or anything. Maybe I’ll pick a lucky reader to receive my incentive funds. Well, lets assume there won’t be any incentive funds.
Hilly Hundred, here I come!