Eco-warrior bi-weekly challenge

Since leaving work, I’ve slowly turned into an eco-nag.  If my partner does a supermarket trip and brings it home in a carrier bag, I stand there, pointing at the reusables and tap my foot looking like an incarnation of Victor Meldrew.

I’ve still yet to decide how to use the hundreds of ice-cream sticks I’ve managed to collect and realise how easily I could have lost weight.  I thought they’d make good labels for seeds I’d planted, but they began to join the compost before the seeds germinated.

I’ve got a tidy pile of yoghurt pots that stretch from the floor to ceiling that were going to be plant pots, except that we’re now going on the road with six panniers and they’re unlikely to fit.  I have a pile of cardboard boxes awaiting life as mulch or another ebay sale.  And what am I going to do with the ex germinators made from 5 litre water bottles?

At least food waste got a use and I’ve managed to make a couple of beds of the most amazing looking black soil teaming with worms.  The odd plant pops up in an unusual place, like an onion amongst the nettles and a potato plant here and there dotted between the trees.

The upshot is, that I’ve broken the throw away habit of a lifetime and find it next to impossible to commit something to the landfill.

But I’ve still aways to go before I make the grade of a closed system (a permaculture design principle), which is where all inputs to the system are no longer required from external sources, like the supermarket, and there are no outputs as everything is re-used on site.

But that’s the goal.

Meanwhile, the ‘Story of Stuff’ project has sponsored the Northwest Earth Institute’s EcoChallenge that you can jump into any time you want.  Here’s the story:

The challenge is based on the principle that it takes two weeks to form a new habit, so you pick a challenge and try it out for two weeks.  By the time the two weeks are up – you’ll have formed a habit for the future and before long, will have a mountain of lollipop sticks, like me, and you’ll not be able to stop.

So do you feel up to the challenge?

I’m inviting you join me in two weeks time, October 31st, to undertake an eco-challenge lasting for two weeks.  I’ll pick one for us to try out for two weeks, and we can share our respective stories at the end.  If you want to declare your participation (not compulsory) feel free to copy the image below and use it as you wish.  Any stories you write as a response to the challenge, please ping back to this post.


Good luck!!


25 thoughts on “Eco-warrior bi-weekly challenge

  1. How timely… I’ve been talking this week to my children about stuff and ego, and this video will definitely get some conversation flowing and minds churning. I’m travelling to America Nov 2nd so will not join in the challenge but will forever keep your thoughts in mind and heart. No coincidence I visited your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ve been talking quite a lot about synchronicity between various blogs – I’m happy that the post has some reach and engages some critical thought. Enjoy America. The challenge will be ongoing – so feel free to jump in at any time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There seems to be disparate recycling systems up and down the country. I have no problems where I live as it’s all provided. We have separate disposal bins for a) food waste, b) cardboard, paper and tin cans, c) glass, d) general waste – which includes plastics of all types. This is where they fail as apparently all this all goes to landfill, e) clothing – although this is 100 yds up the road.
    Plastics are the biggest problem as there are thousands of types, but in general terms there are currently approx 300 types in circulation that are used for food, chemicals and packaging.


    1. Yes, I’m lucky too that recycling is serious business with the local authority I live in, but until we set a date for moving, I tried to keep it on site as much as possible and reused what I could, which is what we’ll do in the future. It’s amazing how creative you can get. Worn clothing makes a good sheet mulch for keeping weeds at bay (although you do need to be careful with the fabrics used). Reusable clothing – charity shops – I remember a time survival depended on them.
      Plastics and polystyrene – huge problem. I’ve been trying to reduce what we bring home.
      I’m interested in the closed systems approach – for example, I spent some time on a university roof garden. The plastic containers for planting came from the Uni canteen. Salads were planted in them, then the salads went to the canteen.
      But the root of waste is mass consumption. Don’t strike at the root, the problem continues to grow.


  3. I’m up for the challenge – I’ll watch out for your post. I wonder if you’ll come up with something I don’t already do 🙂
    Story of stuff should be compulsory viewing, once a day until it sticks in even the dullest minds…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup – I agree, although I do worry about a diet that just outlines the problem – I think it can leave people feeling that one person can’t make a difference. I’m planning a post with the ‘Story of Solutions’. It was one reason I was drawn to permaculture. In our first session we learned the focus is going to be on what to do rather than harp on about the doom and gloom.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As long as people think that throwing their waste into the inneficient machine of recycling is the end of the story, we’ll never get anywhere, but maybe that DVD is too full-on for those who need to be fed a little at a time. One way of making changes is through fashion. Bodyshop made animal rights fashionable. For a while BUAV et al enjoyed vastly increased membership. It didn’t last, due to the temptations of such companies as l’Oreal (‘because she’s worth’ the horrible suffering of countless animals); it was already in its death throes when Anita Roddick showed her true colours. Another example is the current trend for shopping in charity shops, although that is partly a reflection of the economy.
        The feeling of disempowerment is an international problem. In the UK it started with Thatcher. This is one of the issues we have to deal with.


        1. It depends what systems are in place depending upon where you live.
          All our food waste is used for compost for growing animal feed. All paper is mulched for reproduction. All glass is melted for reproduction.
          If only the general public would smarten up when buying household cleaning products. There’s hundreds of types on sale, yet we only essentially need at most just 5 of them. Simple vinegar is one of the very best cleaning agents but how many people know that or use it? As for the world of women’s beauty products, well all I can say is that whole deal is simple insanity.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. There’s an additional problem with cleaning products – most of the commercial ones are over-used and highly toxic, destroying our health and the environment, unlike vinegar.
            The profusion of women’s (and men’s) cosmetic products is down to a combination of vanity, insecurity and a kind of addiction – all issues which are hard to combat.


        2. I agree that recycling as an answer is not a solution. It doesn’t get at the heart of waste – the problem is consumption. Consume less = less waste. Fashions only serve to get us throwing away the last and buying into the new (which we’ll throw away next year). I also agree that community empowerment is vital. However, I don’t think that the way forward is the latest fashion (e.g. buy from charity shops), I think that people have become deeply disconnected from the consequences of human activity, from their own communities and from what truly gives meaning in life. A revival of what we once knew and understood will create empowerment.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Sorry, I got waylaid and didn’t finish what I was saying. There’s a core of people who understand the issues and want to see real change. It’s up to us to pursuade those whose only concerns are banishing immigrants and buying the latest electronic toy, to change. When I speak of fashion I mean popularisation – making each change look attractive (or appear compulsory). I know a lot of people who recycle purely because they’re told they should. They know KFC tortures chickens, but they eat it. They know they shouldn’t put so much washing powder in the machine, but they do it anyway. They know they should walk that half mile, but they drive. If bicycles became fashionable, or if people used them because they were shamed out of driving that short distance, many of them would feel the benefit, and it would be the beginning of their conversion. To change the world we need a tool with many prongs, and I maintain that one of them is what I term fashion.
            All my clothes (and as many other items as possible) come from charity shops. I wear them until they’re threadbare, not for the sake of economy or fashion, but ethics, but I’m happy for others to do so for those reasons, as long as less clothes are produced. Ultimately, this habit could revolutionise retail. All our shops – even the clothing ones – could offer a choice of new or used, making used products more mainstream.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Excellent qualification and explanation of your meaning. Can’t argue!!
              Sometimes I think some things are so self-evident, I can’t understand why others can’t see it (or perhaps do, but don’t want to), I want to shake them and shout ‘WAKE UP!”.
              Anyways – habits – another one of those prongs perhaps?

              Liked by 1 person

  4. I once saw Ivan Illich speak – he reminded us that once, not so long ago, we used to grow nearly all our food and make all our goods within five miles of the centre of town. Nowadays there are white vans zig-zagging all over the country delivering rubbish wrapped in rubbish.
    Somehow we’ve got to get nearer to that.
    Good job Safar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deschooling society – I remember that book from way back – it had quite an impact. Are you familiar with the Transition Town movement, Opher? It’s a step towards the 5 mile radius. Also goods that were made to last – wouldn’t that be something?
      Like that – delivering rubbish wrapped in rubbish.


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