LIVE: Earth Hour Follow-up

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Back in April I posted about Earth Hour and changes I would be incorporating into my life to honor it. I never posted an update, and even though only a few people read it and even less commented on it – I had one comment that I really appreciated and I’ve decided I owe a follow-up.

I did not manage to make all of my goals.

I did not recycle in April, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. This is because my town offers curbside recycling to “all” residents and therefore doesn’t operate recycle centers. After much searching and asking around, I was unable to locate a recycle center. The problem with this is that the city only offers curbside recycling to traditional hourses or apartments with 4 or less units. I live in an apartment complex and the only thing available is a dumpster which is not a recycling dumpster. Luckily, later on in the summer a co-worker offered to get me a recycle bin and now every other week I drop my recycling off at his house in the morning and pick the bin back up after work. It didn’t cost him anything to request an extra bin and now I can recycle. So while I didn’t meet my goal in April, I’m now able to do so!

I did go vegetarian for the month, with the exception of one meal so I’m going to call that one a success! The only reason I ate meat for one meal was because I went to my cousin’s and did not warn her about my self-imposed challenge. Now I could’ve told her last minute and figured out something else to eat for dinner, but I didn’t want to be rude and she would have went out of her way to make me something special and I didn’t want her to do that. I didn’t keep up being vegetarian, but I’ve definitely cut down on my meat intake.

I mostly used reuseable bags. A few times I forgot my bags and did not stick to my promise that I had to have them to go shopping. I decided wasting extra gas just to get the bags kind of defeated my purpose and made an effort to go through the self-checkout and cram as much into the plastic bags as I could. I hate to say that this is something I did not continue after April, though I have been making sure to recycle my plastic bags.

I guess I more or less made my goal of having only one light on at a time and this is something I continue to try to do. Sometimes I have on more than one, but I’m making a conscious effort not to leave lights on in rooms I’m not in. I overheard some international students at a restaurant awhile ago complaining about how their American roommates seem to need every light on in the apartment even when one would suffice, and how they found that odd. It made me realize that as Americans, we take things like constant access to electricity for granted, and waste a lot more of it than is necessary so I’ve continued to try to be more wise about my energy use. I haven’t really seen this reflected in my energy bill, but I’m doing my small part!

So there’s my lengthy follow-up! This did inspire me to come up with more monthly challenges, but I think I need to stick to one thing a month instead of trying to do four completely different things. Currently, I’m doing a 30-day yoga challenge and plan to come up with other challenges for 2014.

LIVE: Earth Hour 2013

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I’ve been titling my posts by which category they fall under (live, travel, eat, create). As this is my first LIVE post I realize the title appears to say “live” as in “happening right now” instead of “live” as in “to live”. Not a big deal, but I volunteer at ESL (English as a Second Language) classes and this is another example of how English is so darn confusing…onto the actual post:

I’d like to start out by saying I am NOT a crazy environmentalist and that there won’t be many posts about this topic. That said, I do believe we should do our part to not harm the environment.

Today is Earth Hour 2013. If you haven’t heard about Earth Hour, it’s a movement where people turn off the lights from 8:30-9:30pm no matter where they are.  It is to raise awareness and prompt people to take action against climate change.  While turning off your lights for an hour is a small step, it’s meant to get people thinking. If everyone in the world made a few small changes, it could make a huge difference.

Now, I’d like to say I do my part to help save the planet but the truth is, I don’t. I drive my car everyday to work by myself. I never remember to take my reusable bags to the store with me. Since I’ve moved to an apartment complex that doesn’t have recycling bins, I haven’t been recycling either.

Earth Hour has also added a new campaign in the last few years called “I will if you will” where people can share what they’re willing to give up and what the expect others to do in exchange. Currently on their website (earthhour.org), someone will give up meat for a week if 500 people pledge to eat one vegetarian meal a week until the end of the year, and another person will sleep without air conditioning if 1000 people actually throw garbage in the trash and reduce their use of plastic.

This got me to thinking about what I should be doing to do my part. So below, if you will, is my “I will if you will” but in a slightly different format. I’m not going to add the “if you will” part because there’s no way to know if anyone is actually doing it. Also, because I want to do my part and if no one else wants to join in, I’m going to do it anyway. I don’t want to tell anyone what they have to do, I just want you to think about it and decide if maybe there are small changes you can make in your life too.

In honor of Earth Hour and what it represents, I’m going to take it a step further and not only turn off my lights for an hour tonight, but pledge to do the following things for the entire month of April. I’ve been meaning to do some of these for awhile (like recycling), but always end up going for convenience instead…not anymore!

1) I will only use reusable bags.

2) I will take my recyclables to the local recycle station and will not throw them in the dumpster.

3) I will not eat meat for the month. As I’ve been considering going vegetarian anyway, this will be a good first step.

4) I will be less wasteful. I will eat all my leftovers and buy only the amount of food I need.

5) I will only have one light on at a time.

My hope is that by doing these things for a month, they will become habits even after April is over. These changes aren’t only for the good of the planet, but some should be better for my wallet as well and that’s always a plus!

Are you participating in Earth Hour? If you’ve decided to make some small changes to help the environment, sound off by leaving a comment!