Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sustainability Challenge Week 5

Welcome back!

How is it going so far? I would love to hear about your experience! 

The 10-week sustainability training suggests effective but easy to implement amendments that will neither cost a lot of time nor effort. 

So ... this week ... I hardly dare to write the headline. Why? 

Sustainabliity Challenge


Car? No, thank you!


It's unthinkable for most of us to leave the car at home. But it would make a big difference if we ride a bike or take the bus/train. Let's experiment this week!

The Challenge

  • Try to not use your car at least two days this week. That will be very hard for some, simple for others. If you're living in a rural area, it might not even be possible. 
  • If you don't have a bike, consider buying one. I know they have a tacky reputation in the US, but I am not sure why. They are ideal for fitness, weight-loss and it's fun!
  • Even if you'd have to take your car to work. You can still save on unnecessary trips or short-trips. Consider walking or taking your bike if you're just grabbing something from the gas station 2 blocks away. 

At the end of the week analyze how it felt. 

"Was it fun?"
"Was it stressful?"

Maybe you learn that you enjoyed the short walk. Or perhaps you met someone nice on the train and had a great conversation? If you took the train, you might have claimed back the chance to read a book. And I have an even better suggestion for you - but I leave shameless self-marketing until the end (:

Even if you drove one time less - you have helped our planet! If you can, just keep on doing what you did during the challenge and make it a habit. 

I will admit that the next tip would be hard on me and I would rather walk 50 minutes straight (during a thunderstorm): Consider car pooling. Neighbors, friends, colleagues - try to pinpoint when you can share a ride.

It also counts if you offer yourself as the driver. 

Balance


Air traffic is bad for the environment. But we want to fly to other countries or have to use planes regularly for business reasons. 

This article on Smithonian.com is quite interesting. In Germany, passengers have the possibility to pay about $15 (for a short flight) extra to a non-profit that is focused on reducing the negative impact of our carbon footprint. I read articles in US magazines that imply that they are "testing the water" and check if such a step would be accepted. 

How you help the environment


A car driving 6,000 miles p.a. produces around 4400 pounds of CO2. The sustainable amount for a single person is about 5000 pounds. 

If you reduce the number of trips, you help to protect the climate. 

Until next week!

Love & Light, 


Aurorasa

PS: Are you wondering what you could do while you're on the train? Check out my brand new apps on Google Play!

PS PS: 
Did you miss the first three challenges? You can catch up here: 

Week 1
Week 2




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Sustainability Challenge Week 4

Minimalism - Less is More


Minimalism is trending: Give stuff away, buy it used, buy only what you really need. But the group of people who try to use resources responsibly is still small.

To many, it seems like a daunting task.

You know ... we don't always have to go to an extreme. Even if you feel you are not ready to live autonomic somewhere in the woods - every bit counts. Doing one thing wrong does not mean we have forsaken the right to do other things right.

Once you start making some simple changes, you will realize how much better you feel. This week's task is not just good for the planet, it's also good for you. (You will find a download link for the graphic at the bottom of this post.)


Sustainability Challenge Minimalist


Basis task


Part with five items and bring them to a charity shop. It doesn't matter if it's a toaster you hardly ever use or a skirt that does not fit anymore. Sort out some stuff you don't like, don't need or don't use. Home gym items are a great example for when "don't need" does not apply so that I added the category "don't use".

It's important that you don't just throw the stuff away or sell it at a yard sale. If possible, check out a local charity shop, or thrift store.

Donate the items. And look around: thrift stores are not just for people in need. Have a look around. Something you love? Buy one single item that you like. Only one.

Use your network


Lawn mower, snow removal - there are a lot of things you might be able to borrow from a friend or neighbor. We don't need to own every single item in the world. I might set you up for a whole new world of "he did not give me back my blender" (kidding). 

It's more likely that it will lead to improved relationships. 

Buy second-hand/repair


Electronic items are especially harsh on the environment. Most people throw them away when they are in good working condition. Your provider might give you a new phone each year. 

Often we shop to fill a hole. Shopping to fill empty space is not working and only gives us short-term satisfaction. 

Before you buy a new item, consider: what is it good for? Will you use it? Does it offer new functionality you need?

If something breaks - can you fix it? 


How does it help?


You will feel better when you declutter. Once you get rid of things that do no longer serve you, you will realize how much they weighed you down. Does that sound strange? You will know what I mean once you start. 

A basic rule for clothing could be: Anything (besides clothing for special occasions) you did not wear for a year is useless clutter.

As for the environment: The longer we use items, the fewer resources are needed. In addition to that, less toxic waste ends up in our environment. 

Minimalist Checklist


Click on the links to download the graphic and a minimalist checklist: 

Did you miss the first three challenges? You can catch up here: 

Week 1
Week 2

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

10-Week Sustainability Challenge - Week 3

10 Week Sustainability Challenge Earth Consciousness


Welcome back to the third week of our sustainability challenge. If you missed the first two weeks: Please refer to the links at the bottom of this post.

This week we are going to be watchers. Observers, you could say. We need to leave our ego behind this week and look at things without judgment or self-referential assessments.

I think you will enjoy this challenge. It is rewarding without the cost of uncomfortable change. It costs a bit more time than the first weeks though.

10 week sustainability challenge

Week 3: Earth Consciousness


There are many ways that we can pass on our beliefs about caring for the Earth to those we love. With the Earth in the state that it is, we need to do everything we can to spread awareness among others. Let's do it.

Observe the Beauty in Nature


Go for walks alone, and with your friends and family. Observe the beauty of nature, and the diverse amount of wildlife that lives there. Find the surrounding beauty - whether you live near the beach, a forest, streams, or fields. Travel and see the way that other animals and wildlife live and survive. Grow to appreciate everything about the natural habitats that you see, including the climate, the flowers, and all the details around you.

We typically overlook most of the beauty around us; especially the beauty of things we see on a daily basis.

Earth Consciousness Challenge

Get to Know Other Living Beings


In order for someone to care about the condition that the world is in and want to help the animals and other creatures that live within in, they must first be well acquainted with them and feel that they are connected.

Zoos are debated by many (Personally, I boycott them for over 20 years and watch Wrestling instead (; ) , but they might be an option if you have no other alternative to expose yourself to many animals.

Take your children out or explore alone and get to know the pets of friends and family. Teach your children all about wild animals and their needs. Read books about many varieties of animals and help your children learn as much about them as you can find information for.

Observe What Has Gone Wrong


Talk about the things you see that are not positive. You may notice that there is litter in the streams that the fish and birds live in. Maybe you see that the flowers the animals should be feasting on have been picked by pedestrians on the trails. You may notice pollution in the air that will surely come down and affect the life of the animals that live nearby.

Spend a minute thinking about the number of bees (and butterflies, for that matter) you see now as opposed to a few years ago.

Sustainability Challenge Week 3


Talk about the Link between Our Doings and the Outcomes


Find the link between how we behave and what effect it has on the world, including the animals and all wildlife. When you are looking for it, you will be able to see the correlation between our actions and what happens to the Earth and its inhabitants because of those actions.

Observe situations such as litter in the streams, and how trash can become wrapped around the necks of birds and water animals. Things that we may not even think about can have a hugely negative effect, so we must be aware of everything we do. Fortunately, this also applies to the positive actions we take. When we do something like work together as a team to clean up a natural habitat, the animals that live there has a much better chance of health and survival.

Recommended article: 8 Steps to Reduce your Plastic Waste

Caring for nature and animals comes naturally to most people, but we must re-connect. The more connected we are with the Earth, the less we will want to hurt it.

Caring for Nature


In these stressful times, where many people have lost the feeling for themselves, we need to relearn earth-consciousness. How perverted is that even, if you think about the very meaning of the word "nature".

Educate yourself and those around you so that you can work together to have a positive effect on the Earth. Your love for creatures big and small can go a long way. At the same time, you help yourself as you do these mindfulness exercises.

You can also help look after the Earth by supporting local and organic food growers like we discussed in Week 1.

Until next week!

If you missed the first two weeks, you can catch up here:

Week 1
Week 2
Week 4
Week 5

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sustainability Challenge - Week 2



Part 2 of your 10-week training


The 10-week training focuses on simple and easy to implement steps. This is week 2.

How did it go last week? Not that hard, was it? If you missed the first week, you can catch up here:

Week 1


How to save energy at home


Do you have to preheat the oven? Does the light have to stay on when you leave? What is the best temperature for your freezer? This week, you will learn how you can save energy and help the planet and your wallet.

Statistics show that Americans who are in the front row of "sinners" for energy usage are developing a mindset of change. Because it helps protect the environment but also because they can save money.

This week we will look how you can save energy. Consider how you want to use energy at home and in your household.

Basic exercise:


You have half an hour at your free disposal? Awesome! You could walk around your place and check where you can save energy - either by implementing new features or changing your habits. Be inspired and see if you can change something. The smallest thing helps.

  • Cooking: Most recipes ask for preheating your oven but it rarely is necessary. Stop preheating your oven and use residual heat by turning off your oven a few minutes before the time.
  •  Living room: It's a well-known fact that devices use power in standby. Switch to multi-plugs so you can turn off all connected devices with one click of the button. That can save up to $100 for five devices around 480 pound of CO2
  • Washing machine/dishwasher: Use only when the machine is full. Wash at cold temperatures. Germs that will not die at cold temperature will also not die from lukewarm or warm water. 
  • Bulbs: You have probably already done this. I only mention it in case you didn't because it's such an effortless way to save a lot of energy, and therefore money. 
  • Bathroom: Take more showers instead of bubble baths. That saves water and energy. If you want your skin and hair to love you, you can consider getting a shower filter (I use THIS one and it helped me give up on hot bubble baths). 
  • Fridge / Freezer: Check if they are set (like most) to unnecessary cold temperatures. 

Additional Tip

Switching to a clean energy provider does not cost much time and is a rewarding environmental measure. 

You can search for providers in your area https://www.green-e.org/certified-resources

How does this help the environment?

Saving energy is very helpful for climate protection. By reducing your carbon footprint, you contribute to the global CO2 reduction. 

A nice side effect is that you will save money.

Until next Sunday!

PS: If you missed the first week catch up here: Week 1

Update:
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Free 10-Week Sustainability Training

Sustainability Challenge No 1


Here is how it works:

  • each week (on Sundays) I post a new lesson
  • sadly, you must remember to come back (my personal blog does not have a newsletter service)
  • there are no sales pitches

Why am I doing this? 

Because it is right and dear to my heart. 

Free Sustainability Training


Small changes can have a huge impact. 

You are not a drop in the ocean - you are the ocean in a drop!

Many Americans feel that a lifestyle respectful towards our planet and its resources is important. On the other hand, it should not be too complicated, time-consuming or expensive. But they'd be willing to make changes if they knew how. 

This training takes your need for simple and easy to implement steps into account. 

So let's start this. Are you ready for your sustainability challenge? 

Sustainability in everyday life


Shop produce smarter


Mmmmhhh I love cherries. Those cherries are so nice. I love them year-round. 

The first week is about shopping produce. We all know our stores are full of fruit and veggies from overseas. And produce that is out of season or does not even grow where we live. 

With some offers, it's clear to us they have a negative environmental impact. And we don't buy them. 

More often we shop out of habit and miss that the onions are from South Africa and the grapes from Australia. 

Or we check for the "organic" label and overlook that our strawberries left a carbon footprint of the size of Bigfoot on their way from China to our shopping cart. 

And this is where we start. We start by raising our awareness and shop smarter. 

Exercise No 1:

For seven days, buy only regional and seasonal veggies and fruit. 

You can find a seasonal calendar HERE and there are plenty others on the internet. 

Take the time to study the country of origin and make sure you only buy seasonal, regional produce. 

Take mental notes of the items that would have landed in your basket that are not environmentally friendly. You will be amazed how many fruits are from different continents even in June. 

If you find real bummers you'd normally have purchased? Great! You've learned something and from now on will check the label twice before you buy. 

Exceptions


You love bananas, pineapple or something else that does not grow in your region? Allow yourself a few missteps. Just make sure you buy the organic version and truly enjoy it. 

Benefits


What does it for you and the environment? 
  • Produce that is in season has typically more nutrients. 
  • You help to save energy (short transportations, reduction of CO2). Seasonal also means that produce is not grown in greenhouses.
  • If you buy organic, it means no pesticides which helps bees and other insects. Organic food is also better for your health and often tastier. 
  • You help the soil. Ecological agriculture results in better soil. 

Enjoy your first challenge and the feeling of doing something good for your planet. See you next week? 

Part 2 will be available on June, 25th. You might be able to subscribe to the RSS feed (honestly, I am not sure if and how that works) or just bookmark the blog or follow me on TWITTER


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