Day 1: Keep your lights off and let the morning sun do the work. Use this same approach for when you get home at the end of the day. One of the biggest perks of this time of the year is that the sun is our fuel, let it naturally do its job for you. You’ll be surprised how well your eyes (and entire sleep cycle) adapt as you start to lose natural light.
Day 2: Put your reusable water bottle near your bag for the next day so you don’t forget it and are forced to purchase a single use bottle or go thirsty. Same with your silverware. Toss an extra pair into your lunch bag! Worried about forgetting to keep a set in there? As soon as you take out the dirty pair to wash them, toss a new set in right away. Or better yet, clean them at work or on your trip as soon as you’re done using them, so they’re ready for next time. You can use a cloth napkin to wrap them up when you put them in your bag.
Day 3: Use a toaster oven. Truly you’d be shocked at how much more energy efficient it is compared to your standard oven and stove top. You can always go the microwave route, but we’re not huge fans of what the waves may be putting out - including in terms of zapping the nutrients out of your noms. Google meals you can make in the toaster oven. Pro tip, I don’t mean plastic wrapped pre-made items, I’m talking healthy and wholesome goodness!
Day 4: Meal prep for your day tomorrow, or the week ahead so you aren’t tempted to get take out or splurge on junk. When doing so, really look at your calendar to see how many meals you need so you don’t end up overcooking and creating waste.
If you end up not finishing your food, save it for tomorrow or learn how to preserve or compost your extras. Also, look at the type of food storage you’re using and think about how that may change what you’re consuming. We recommend finding the perfect sized glass and steel options for storage and transportation. Mason jars are going to be your best friends! After doing this, be sure to hand dry your dishes with a tea towel or let them air dry so you aren’t using up paper towel on something a reusable product could do better.
While you’re at it, add coffee grounds and creamer to your shopping list so you can brew your own coffee in the morning. Not only will this save you time and energy as you get your day started, but you’ll definitely save massive amounts of cash by switching to home brewing and not paying $2-5 daily for a coffee.
Make sure to keep a durable, reusable, washable bag in your car, purse or backpack in case you have a spontaneous grocery trip.
Day 5: Shop local as much as possible and support your local community and workforce. Whether it’s soap, snacks or even clothes, buying local means less carbon created in the transportation of the goods. This means checking if that local mom & pop shop down the street has that item you’ve been eyeing up before you order it from Amazon, a win is a win.
Day 6: Grow what you can at home! If a full garden in your yard isn't an option, you’d be surprised at all the things you can grow inside an apartment! Growing your own spices and herbs, veggies and fruits is not only a great way to save on cash, but growing plants in your window sill is also a natural way to filter the air that’s coming into your space, as well as brighten up your view!
Day 7: Wear those jeans again! Get into the habit of wearing your clothes until they’re actually dirty, not just once. And while most denim is actually made of natural fibers, that's definitely not the case for the bulk of our clothing. As technology advances, we wear more manufactured fabrics which is a leading cause of microwaste. While we can't see it, we consume a substantial quantity of it daily - some say as much as the size of a credit card's worth. This microscopic waste makes its way into our water, then into the cells of what we consume. This is something we can easily slow down with the use of natural fibers, washing less, and washing bags!
Day 8: Take a look at your personal care products like body wash, toothpaste, facial cleansers and feminine hygiene products. Not only could they contain ingredients and chemicals that are not safe for you and your body, but they can also include things like microbeads, (tiny bits of non-biodegradable plastics) that could end up harming the planet as well. Some of those ingredients are things like, exfoliating microbeads, BHA and BHT, dibutyl phthalate, tricolsan, synthetic fragrances, silicones, and so much more! You can use the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Cosmetic Database to test what you use!
Day 9: Some of you may not want to hear it, but simply eat less meat! No, this doesn’t mean losing your true Wisconsin attitude and never touching a brat again, but just take it back a few steps. Look at what you’re eating and how/where/when you’re purchasing it. Maybe you can find a local farm to support to cut out some of the emissions (and increase the quality among other benefits), but there’s overall much less carbon emissions and eco-harm with plants and veggies, especially when you buy from your local farmers market!
And for some shocking numbers, it's estimated that 450 gallons of water are needed to produce 1/4 pound of beef (source). Truly, please consider learning where and how your meat and dairy are produced, as CAFOS (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) can cause very serious water pollution - a double whammy to mama nature.
Day 10: Keep a note of what you keep in your desk, donate junk and make sure everything has a purpose. In this, focus on experiences and not things. Keep in mind how you view specific items vs. the experiences you have in your memories.
The novelty of new things wear off quickly and then you’re left with bags full of stuff you don’t want or need while binge-ing Marie Kondo episodes. You can also reduce the junk that’s coming to you against your will, i.e., junk mail, by using dmachoice.org If you’re hesitant to let go of something, can you take a photo or video and then see if that suffices?
It may feel a bit ironic that a retailer is pitching accumulating less "stuff," but ultimately we want you to feel proud of all that you own - and we want to make sure that as a retailer (in an industry that's inherently quite wasteful) that we encourage you to do thoughtful consuming.
Day 11: Plant a tree! Our ecological systems sustainability is super important when you’re transitioning into eco-friendly life. Again, this is something that will make huge strides in changing our air quality, as well as support the natural growth of locally native plants.
Day 12: While natural light is definitely encouraged, there will come a time in the not super distant future where we're relying a bit more heavily on artificial lighting in our homes and workspaces. So, we highly suggest that you change your bulbs! LED lights last longer than your standard bulbs, and they do the job sooo much better overall! Not only will you be using less power, but you also won’t need to change them as often, score! There are also many options available varying in design and brightness, so you’ll be sure to find something perfect for your space.
Day 13: Although recycling more helps, using less overall is the point. If we can change the habit to bring our own utensils vs. using recyclable ones, that's the transformation we're looking for.
That said, sometimes you do need to dispose of items you no longer need (especially if you just Marie Kondo'd your whole life) and we're here to tell you that more items than you may realize can be recycled as long as you follow the correct process. Some of these include crayons, cell phones, batteries, running shoes, wine corks, bras, holiday lights, and so much more! We have some guidelines for Wisconsin below, but a quick Google search can lead you to the info for your state.
Day 14: Having a bad day? Skip the candy bar or urge to go on a retail therapy binge; go for a walk, chat with a friend, enjoy the water. Dive deep into what the Earth can offer your soul. The same goes for if you’re feeling cold. Get up and move your body for two minutes, pull out a blanket or toss on a sweater if you’re cold instead of cranking up the heat. Same goes for the summer time! Turn off and crack a window (or go for a dip in the water), or figure out an energy efficient setting for your air conditioner when you’re not at home.
Day 15: Today we encourage you to borrow instead of buy! Rent that movie from Redbox or stream on Netflix, start a book sharing system with your friends, split or share lunch with your coworkers or friends, ask to try their new dry shampoo to see if it works before you buy, share a straightener with your sister while on vacation, all of it! It might seem like an extra thought to plan ahead, but we are smart enough to take that extra moment. Our earth is worth our extra care, and after a while thinking this way does become second nature.
Day 16: Today is in a similar vein: fix your broken stuff before tossing and buying new! Heck, my grandpa has to start his lawn mower with a clothes hanger, but that baby runs like a charm! Reducing your frivolous spending on new items also reduces your waste. Sometimes it can be more time consuming to fix it yourself, but in the long run, you'll save money and the carbon emissions.
Day 17: This really may sound counter-intuitive, but stay with us here…
...consider having your groceries delivered, especially if you live in a city or heavily populated area. Instead of your entire block or office heading to the store after work to get your groceries, one person in one car will drive around town and drop everything you need off, on a route that makes sense! This definitely can help our air quality, and bonus; may save you money on impulse buys and over-purchasing and creating more waste.
If your area isn't eligible for services like this, be sure to shop markets, grow your own, or at least bring your own bags and produce bags!
Day 18: Carelessly using water may feel like a tough habit to break. We let the water run all the time, use it without really thinking, and in general take it for granted. But might we suggest this to break that habit: take a moment to truly visualize where your water is coming from. Imagine the lakes, oceans, rivers you love. Their beauty, majesty, and the entire ecosystems reliant on their health. Often doing that makes it easier to connect to the WHY behind changing the habit. So, take a shower instead of a bath, double think that single use water bottle, look into low-flow water faucets and overall, just turn the faucet off if it’s not currently in use. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth or suds-up your hands/face/body! This is easier than you think. Remember your why - the water (and our whole planet) needs ya, friend!
Day 19: This one will save the planet and benefit your fitness: get creative with transportation!
Take a group Lyft / Uber or walk/bike to your errands and daily missions. If you live near your coworkers or have neighboring kids that go to the same school, carpool! Self-powered commuting is sexy considering it doubles as your workout.
Day 20: Energy is literally everything - we need it, we rely on it, and yet we're so great at wasting it. Conserve it, friend! This really is one of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. Make sure to turn switches off that don’t need energy, and full on unplug things like your toaster, curling iron and phone chargers if they aren’t in use. Not only are you helping the environment, but your wallet will see a difference in your energy bill as well. Take that one step further, and invest in eco-friendly and efficient technology where possible.
Day 21: If you own or live in a home, check to see how well insulated your space is. Homes that aren’t insulated well are so much harder to keep warm in winter and cool in the summer, which results in cranking the knobs and using so much more energy. Live in an apartment? No problem! Take a peek at all doors and windows to see if you can feel a draft.Your landlord will likely be open to this conversation, too, knowing that you're a responsible tenant. And make sure to keep doors closed to retain the cold or heat accordingly - lessening the load on your heating and cooling systems!
Day 22: Today is huge for the environment and huge for the health of yourentire family and home: make your own cleaners. Many store bought cleaning products contain very harmful chemicals that can end up greatly harming the environment, your physiology, your family, etc. Same goes for items like hairsprays, sunscreens and lotions! Not only are the chemicals inside the product not always safe, the actual bottle is likely trash. You can make your own in a glass spray bottle and be able to easily make more when you run out! Catch the whole lowdown here.
It's so worth the time it takes to educate yourself and make the decision to take action. This applies to any day on the challenge! We hope you noticed that it's worth the effort for many reasons - the least of which is making massive, beautiful change for the planet we love.