Jan 31st – Recap this month and applaud yourself for the changes you did each day.

Creating this blog was in the hope that someday, all of these posts will be outdated because these changes will be ingrained in our daily lives.  Pat yourself on the back if you have made any of these changes, even if for that one day… and who knows, some may strike a cord and cause you to do it more regularly. With 315,245,704 people in the US and 7,063,124,340 on this earth*… and growing fast… learning to live together is key.  These ideas are meant to make it better for us collectively, so to recap, these were the daily changes this month:

  • Jan 2 – Buy Shampoo/Cond that is enviro-friendly
  • 3 – Go meatless
  • 4 – Pay a genuine compliment to 3 different people
  • 5 – Read 15 mins on someone who inspires you
  • 6 – Visit a Farmer’s Market
  • 7 – Turn off faucet while brushing teeth
  • 8 – Reuse something instead of throwing it away
  • 9 – Listen
  • 10 – Eat 7-9 Fruits
  • 11 – Share a meal with a friend
  • 12 – Do an activity in nature
  • 13 – Use no paper towels today
  • 14 – Turn off any unnecessary lights
  • 15 – Create a zero-waste lunch
  • 16 – Let 3 people go in front of you today
  • 17 – Get a compost (happy to report our worms are eating as I write!)
  • 18 – Support a small business merchant
  • 19 – Calculate your eco-footprint
  • 20 – Unplug electrical appliances while not in use
  • 21 – Meditate
  • 22 – Do dishes in an eco-friendly detergent
  • 23 – Donate to education
  • 24 – Schedule a free energy efficient evaluation for your home
  • 25 – Request the utensils, napkins and condiments are left out of your take-out package
  • 26 – Treat yourself to a shade-grown cup of coffee
  • 27 – De-clutter and let go of 20 things
  • 28 – Change your light bulbs to energy efficient CFL or LED bulbs
  • 29 – Stop saving things you already have, use and enjoy them
  • 30 – Wash only full loads of laundry

I am keeping a journal of these daily experiences and hope you will share some of yours.  I still can’t believe we are actually doing a worm (yuck!) compost… though I am starting to love those slimy things… and just know that if I can do this one, ANYONE can.  We have still not bought anymore paper towels and I now regularly dry my hands on my pants, along with my kids.  Our garage is getting cleaned out and many things have been donated or sold for those who will have better use for them.  I found shade-grown coffee is tasty.  We have saved money from unplugging many appliances, doing less laundry loads, better light bulbs, and using less electricity and water.  ‘Planet’ dishwashing soap rocks, so does Kiss My Face shampoo and conditioner.  We are eating more fruits and veggies and less meat – and I LOVE my Farmer’s Market. … lastly, I like being a nicer person and I definitely need to do more mediating!

Hope you all had a great month and I am looking forward to more changes starting again tomorrow.

*As of Jan 31, 2013 according to the United States Census Bureau.

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Jan 30th – Wash only full loads of laundry, in cold water.

According to the California Energy Commission, the typical Amercian household, does nearly 400 loads of laundry per year.  A conventional washer uses about 40 gallons of water per load.  If you cut that down to only 4 loads in a week, you would be cutting that number in half.  Using cold water is helpful as well. The California Energy Commission states that up to 90% of the cost of washing clothes comes from heating the water, so use hot water only when necessary.

I have briefly mentioned previously why conserving water helps.  As our population grows, while our water supply stays the same, we need to take care of it and use it wisely since it is essential to life for us.  Conserving water helps to save the environment when it stays in it’s reservoir, it means less energy required to process and deliver it (meaning less pollution and saving on fuel resources), and helps to build a better defense against future droughts.

We now designate one day of the week for doing wash, Wednesdays.  It makes it much easier to ensure full loads rather than numerous small ones and it saves water, money and time.

Jan 29th – Rather than save things for a special day, rainy day, a whatever day – wear it, give it, share it, do it – today.

If you have it, use, appreciate and enjoy it*.  No need to waste any further time and the resources it took for you to have it.

A friend of mine shared a wonderful bit of insight with me years ago that I have never forgotten and I remind myself of regularly:  Never save an outfit for a special day, wear it today.  It doesn’t have to be a formal gown, it could be a cute shirt that you were saving for a meeting two weeks from now.  Wear it today.  This does not just speak to our clothes, it is any items you have in your life that you are saving for just the “right” day or moment.

I cannot count the number of outfits I bought for a possible ‘special occasion’ and ended up donating 5 years later with tags still attached.  Unfortunately, it  was such a waste… of money, of a cute outfit and a moment that I could have enjoyed, and of resources to make the product, only to never be used.

It speaks largely to living in the present and valuing the things that we have been fortunate to receive.  Things can change of a dime, so if you have something yummy in your frig that needs to be devoured, a gift card that has not been used, a cute outfit that you have been saving, a card you were holding onto for just the right day to send – eat it, use it, wear it, send it… TODAY.

…You may think twice before you buy or obtain something new that you plan to save for just the ‘right’ day… maybe you don’t really need it after all :).

*Unless, of course, it is not being kind to the environment!

Jan 28th – Go through your home and change or confirm that all lights are LED or CFL bulbs.

Over time, I have changed most all of my light bulbs to energy efficient ones, but I have not bothered to get on a ladder to check some of the hard to reach ones (outdoor lights count as well), so today is my day to check.

First of all, what is the difference between LED and CFL (compact florescent lights)?  Both are a big improvement for energy efficiency over an incandescent bulb (and will save you money in your electric bill!), but there are two glaring differences… LED costs more, but last significantly longer (though the price continues to come down); CFL, which is really just a miniature version of full sized fluorescents, are less expensive, but have a considerably shorter life than LED.

Over time, incandescent will most likely no longer be available, which is not a bad thing.  While CFL’s got a bad wrap initially with it’s unappealing glow and flickering, technology has come a long way and made improvements, and CFL can fit nearly anywhere incandescent lights are used, including dimmers.  The cost of LED’s has improved and continues to go down, actually making them more attractive to CFL when comparing price over their lifetimes… and LED does not contain mercury. If you have a hard to reach light, you may want to consider LED so you don’t have to change as often.

This is a quick, down-and-dirty explanation of the energy efficient bulbs, but Eartheasy.com has an excellent, full-length explanation on energy efficient lighting  if you would like to read more.  Check out http://eartheasy.com/live_energyeff_lighting.htm#1c

Jan 27th – Declutter your life – start by purging 20 items today (preferably donate or recycle the items).

Learning to let go of material things is a rejuvenating experience.  As you let go, it helps you to better appreciate and value the things you hold onto, and it breaths room for more things to come into your life (not necessarily more material goods, but things you want and need to fill your being).  Holding on to too much baggage weighs us down and keeps us from moving forward.

It is still January, a time to start new.  Clear out the unimportant and unnecessary in your life and make way for some good things to come.

Jan 26th – Treat yourself to a Shade Grown cup of coffee.

Who knew about shade grown coffee (except you coffee connoisseurs!)?  Not me, until recently.

First, what is it?  Shade grown means the coffee is grown using traditional methods, in the shade, so the rain-forest trees on coffee plantations are preserved, rather than cleared out.  Coffee comes from a small “understory” tree or shrub and has traditionally been grown under the forest trees.  Because of this truly organic experience, there are a number of benefits.  GroundsforChange.com lists three excellent reasons why shade grown is good (see http://www.groundsforchange.com/learn/shadegrown.php):

  • THE ENVIRONMENT
    Clear-cutting the forest for full-sun plantations (as opposed to shade grown) increases soil erosion and deadly mudslides and the chemicals used to support the growth of full-sun hybrids produce toxic run-off and acidify the soil. Needless to say, biodiversity on these plantations is negligible. Shade grown coffee shrubs live twice as long and the shade trees generate natural mulch, which means less replanting and less need for chemical fertilizers.
  • FLAVOR
    Experts agree that the flavor of shade grown coffee is superior to that of full-sun coffee and that it is significantly less bitter. Shade grown coffee shrubs mature more slowly and produce fewer coffee cherries so the flavor is more concentrated and mellowed in the resulting harvest.
  • MIGRATORY BIRDS
    The plight of migratory birds is frequently identified with shade grown coffee because shade grown coffee farms are small ecosystems, second only to tropical rainforests in terms of biodiversity. These farms act as an oasis for over 150 species of migratory birds whose populations have declined 50% in just the last 25 years, primarily due to habitat destruction caused by full-sun coffee plantations, which have 95% fewer bird species than their shaded counterparts.

For you Daily Changers, this may not be an easy find unless you have a well-rounded coffee house you support, unfortunately Starbucks and Coffee Bean do not offer, but shade grown coffee is out there, you may have to purchase at Whole Foods and brew your own, unless, of course, you have another source and if you do, please share!  If more of us demanded shade grown coffee, coffee farmers would be incentivized to keep the trees.

Organic is good, Shade Grown is great.