Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One Year Out

I'm always curious what became of other blogger's sustainability challenges once the challenge ends ... Does Vanessa still use her spray bottle? Which changes has Colin kept, and which has he shed? Has Crunchy peed on her plants recently? Does Megan ever shop recreationally? Does EnviroWoman still exist?

Anyhow, since I'm curious about others, I figured you might be curious about me. It's been almost a year since I finished my non-consumer challenge, and a year since I stopped taking on monthly challenges. So how has my life changed?

Let's go through, challenge by challenge, shall we?

In November of 2007, I committed to my silliest and first challenge: purging my shoe collection. The good news is, I now own only seven pairs of shoes that I wear all the time. The bad news is, because I own so few pairs of shoes, I wear them out quickly. I already have plans to leave some shoes behind here and I will likely have to replace them fairly soon.

The challenge that has fallen most by the wayside is definitely my December of 2007 challenge to not eat fast food or pre-packaged meals. There are a number of reasons for it, including the fact that I have a teeny tiny kitchenette and very few kitchen utensils, but I suppose the main reason is that I got lazy. But I'm hoping that things will change when I move. If not, I may just have to retake the challenge all over again!

In January of 2008 I decided to rid myself of paper towels, kleenex, napkins, toilet paper and tampons. The paper towels are still gone as are the tampons, and I still don't use tp for numero uno when I'm at home. But, I do sometimes slip up and take a napkin if I'm at a restaurant. And I do use the recycled toilet paper to blow my nose because I never really boarded the handkerchief bandwagon.

In February of 2008, I decided to rid myself of my crap. Well, what with the transatlantic move, I now have a lot less stuff. So I'm not too worried about this one anymore.

In March of 2008, I became an armchair activist. I no longer sign e-petitions, or write letters to companies, or do any of those things. On the other hand, my dissertation is essentially about civil society environmental activism, so maybe my research on environmental activism balances out the fact that I don't sign e-petitions? I don't know.

In April of 2008, I started taking public transit to work. It was an ordeal. I had to walk two miles to the subway and then take the subway to the bus. It turned my 20 minute commute into an hour-plus commute. Now? I don't own a car, I rarely even take public transit, and my carbon footprint has plummeted accordingly. But, as I remarked to Chile yesterday, this is more a function of the city I live in, than anything else. And as it should be, because, as I've mentioned before, living car-free should not be a challenge. (Though if you do want to take a car-free challenge, now is your chance to join Chile and friends.)

In May of 2008, I decided to try out the local food thang. While I quickly gave up on being a total locavore (I have a bad need for mangoes), I still enjoy shopping at farmers' markets and aim to buy local at the supermarket.

In June of 2008, I decided to give more of myself. Well, now that I'm in school again, I have zero money. So I don't give money really at all ever, but I do try and give of myself in other ways ... helping friends, reading other people's essays, etc.

And in July, I reached the zenith of my eco-nuttiness by going pseudo freegan with Megan! But once July ended, I promptly said no thank you to freeganism and I don't anticipate ever going back.

And finally, of course, there was my one year challenge to not buy any new stuff. And a year out ... well, I have bought some new stuff: new shoes, socks, undergarments, some other clothes, an external hard drive or two (one got stolen), some books. But mostly, I've stuck to buying used: used dishes, kitchen utensils and a TV for my apartment, I found a totally awesome winter coat for 5 pounds at a charity shop, and I tried as much as I could to buy used books. When I traveled, I've shopped a lot less than I used to, opting to use my photos as souvenirs instead. Given that I have very little money, I haven't had much of an opportunity to splurge much, and I've made good use of the library, borrowed things from friends, and done without a lot of other things.

So over all, I need to get back in gear with the cooking. I need to re-kick my addiction to Diet Coke. I need to work more on ridding myself of wasteful plastic. And one day, ONE DAY, I shall compost.

But over all, I am maybe not doing so bad.

I'll keep you updated.


hgg said...

I got inspired by your no-paper challenge a while ago. I use much less paper towels and napkins than I used to. I have some old handkerchiefs after my granddad. They're awesome and I have more or less stopped using tissues to blow my nose. At home I've more or less stopped using TP altogether. But all of this is probably more than outweighed by all the cute shoes that for some reason tend to pile up in my homes

Chile said...

Ruchi, it sounds like you are doing really good with maintaining most of your changes. The question now is, has this improved your life overall? How about your mental attitude? Are you happier? More fulfilled? Inquiring minds wanna know!

ruchi said...

Haha, HGG, I bet those cute shoes just mysteriously appear in your home!! ;)

Chile, good question. I think it's hard for me to separate all these changes from each other ... I mean, in the past couple years my life has completely changed, my career, where I live, everything. But I'll try and tackle your questions in a couple posts in the near future.

Green Bean said...

Not too shabby after all!! I've slipped a bit with some of the things I used to do alot when I was really challenging myself (ahem, line drying) but I do do other things more and more. I suppose it all balances you. Congrats on your year of challenges!

knutty knitter said...

I still use no tp for #1. I already did most of the other stuff anyway. I mostly refused to change to the wrong things which is relatively easy.

Plastic is the hardest thing round here.

viv in nz

hgg said...

oh yes, those nasty little creatures just sneak through open windows at night!

ruchi said...

GB, yeah, I think it does sort of balance itself out, though I kinda thing that the stuff I'm better at now (i.e. not driving) is just easier. What I'm saying is I'm just uber-lazy. ;)

Viv, yeah, ridding yourself of the plastic is HARD.

HGG, haha. I'm going to tell them you called them nasty. They might march right out into the night!!

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

Just curious - have you stopped being an armchair activist because you don't have time anymore or because you don't think it makes a difference? Sometimes, I wonder if adding my name to an e-petition matters at all.

Sounds like you're still doing pretty good with most of your challenges. Very inspiring!

Fix said...

Yes. more later -


ruchi said...

Erin, I've stopped signing the e-petitions for a few reasons. In general, I don't believe that e-petitions are particularly effective, but there are clear exceptions where e-petitions have been used effectively ... the Brita recycling campaign is one.

Megan, I miss you!