Thursday, April 16, 2015

One Small Act

One of my favorite websites for eco-friendly living is One Small Act. I discovered it when my life went through a makeover in October 2012 – new house, new city. I started chasing minimalism and conscious consumerism. I blogged about the start of the journey here. Did I have any idea how the journey would unfold, or the friends I would "click" with? I doubt it. But I'm glad I started down that road.

"Recycle a piece of cardboard"
It's interesting to look back at how much I didn't know then about eco-friendly living. My family had always been frugal. My mom can stretch a grocery budget further than anyone I know, and my dad was always the one to explain how solar panels or cycling crops worked. And of course I knew how to recycle, compost, and use up leftovers. But I had never really thought about the chemicals in shampoo and makeup. Or what made Fair Trade food fair. And I hadn't known that there were other "normal" people like me who wanted to be better stewards of the Earth but weren't always sure how to do that. One Small Act (then called "Practically Green") was the perfect answer, because it provided a community as well as bite-sized challenges within bigger projects like recycling, parenting, and saving electricity. I found and tried challenges like:

Track your trash for a week

Find a healthy recipe

Watch "The Story of Stuff" documentary

Take a shower that is 5 minutes or less

Donate a gently used item to a charity

"Buy a toy made from renewable materials"
In our new apartment – literally half the size of our previous one – it was harder to overlook clutter. Our living room was stuffed after the move, and since then I've whittled down the furniture until it has a few good pieces that we actually use and enjoy. With less wall space (and, now, a curious baby) I buy less knickknacks and decorations. I think more about sustainable living and the world we're building for him. I think about the example I'm setting for him through the choices I make.

After two and a half years, I went through most of the challenges on One Small Act. I earned achievements like Kill-o-watt, Super Saver, and Home Water Savers. And I reached Level 10: Superbly Green. I loved the sense of achievement, but then I got stuck. It seemed like the only actions left to complete were big ones. Achievements that I didn't see actually working with my life and budget at the time, like installing a driveway with better runoff, putting up a windmill/solar panel, or trading in our car for an electric model. Maybe some day, but not here and now. I figured that I had reached the limits of the site.

So I made a new account and started over.

It's been great to have that accountability again, that little nudge to make a difference in my world through little actions. And it gives me a reason to take photos and blog about what I've tried. What's not to love?

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