Friday, January 07, 2011

the eco challenge

Every year our little family sets ourself an eco challenge. The idea is to change an aspect of our life so that it's more environmental. The aim; to break patterns of behaviour that we're accustomed to, that have become habits, and that are at odds with our environmental ideals.

So yep, basically the aim is to break bad habits.

The year before last, I challenged myself to not drive the car in the town we live in. While we do live in a fairly small seaside town, it does take 45 minutes to walk to the main part of town from our house. We used the bus as much as we could, although the bus only comes every couple of hours or so. Andy even got into the act and rode his bike to work more regularly, which is about a 25km trip one way.

Last year, we challenged ourself to not buy any clothes for the entire year. Not even secondhand. So no clothing for two adults, a five year old and a toddling boy.

The first couple of months were the hardest but to be honest, once the shopping pattern was broken, it really was very very easy. And you know what? We survived no worries.

We did benefit from hand-me-downs from cousins, which was particularly helpful for the little lad. And my aim was simply to make what we needed. The reality was that we didn't need that much really. The kids needed pants and jumpers, but beyond that we survived no worries. I even found that I didn't need to make as much as I thought I would. Clothes really do fit kids for a lot longer than just the year the number on the label corresponds to their age. (I say that in jest, simply because I do know people who change their kids' wardrobes over to the next number up each year regardless.) Lily's favourite pair of shorts are a size 1.

This year our focus is on food sustainability. Lily has even started contributing her thoughts to the eco-challenge and helped come up with the focus for 2011. She wants to reduce our use of packaged food, which in itself isn't a great deal, but I love that she is involved.

We eat mostly organic, and do benefit from an organic veggie box delivered every Monday. So we do tend already to focus on eating what's in season, and fairly healthy. We're hoping to increase the productivity of our veggie garden over the course of the year as well as make much more food from scratch. We've been baking bread every day so far, which is great fun! This afternoon I'm hoping to get some fruit loaf happening; with organic raisins, cranberries and goji berries.

I also need to find a recipe to replace those delicious Carmen's muesli bars that Lily loves so very much.
Any suggestions?

One of the benefits of a deliberate eco focus for each year has been Lily's increasing understanding of green issues and concern for the environment. She is very disturbed by rubbish (which she refers to as tinseling) and will pick up rubbish if she sees it.

I love that our no clothes buying has taught her about other aspects of creativity too. Recently she made a couple of games that were based on some of her favourites from kindy. She showed me and said, "Look Mum, you don't always need to buy toys, you can make them sometimes too." then she looked a bit concerned, "But that doesn't mean we should go a year without buying toys though, okay."

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. Thanks for your blog, I've never commented before but I do read all the time. I love the family eco-challenge idea!

    Here's my basic oat bar recipe - you can add whatever fruit, nuts etc you like to this mix... (Also Anzac biscuit recipes make good bars)

    Rolled oat bars

    1 cup wholemeal self raising flour

    ½ cup sugar

    1 tbsp golden syrup

    2 cups rolled oats

    150 g pure butter (eg. Butter Soft)

    Combine flour, oats and sugar in a bowl. Melt butter, add golden syrup and mix into dry ingredients. Press into slice tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until brown. Cut into bars while still hot, leave to cool before removing from tray. Makes about 20.

  2. There's a great bar recipe in the Deceptively Delicious cookbook. I think this is it verbatim:

    I love that she was quick to jump on the retraction of her toy comment.

  3. Looking forward to hearing your progress in the coming year. I'm just about to cast on a Darwinia too! hoping to finish it by the end of summer.

  4. Looking forward to see how you are going with your challenge. Too much rain up here for our vege patch to be productive :(

  5. Oh yeah, we are totally addicted to those Carmen's bars too.
    I think your eco challenges are so ace and inspiring.
    And thanks to your last post I have just installed a yardage counter thingo on my blog, pressure's on.
    Have a wonderful and happy new year! X

  6. Hi there,
    I went all of last year without buying clothes too! I did have to buy a couple of pairs of tights, but that was it. Hard to make your own tights. I love the idea of a yearly challenge and I love I did it without even thinking about it. It was the middle of the year before I realised I hadn't bought any clothes.
    I wonder what ours can be this year?

  7. Georgie, after reading your post I thought I would contribute the rolled pat bar recipe that is a favorite in our house but Mel.J had beat me to it!

  8. hehe, I'd find it hard to take away the Carmen's muesli bars too, they are so yummy (currently nomming on an Original fruit free one)

  9. It is amazing how much little people soak up. Amelia's school has a no rubbish policy (of which I have done for the year at Kindergarten as a trial for te year) The class is involved and means that we get to make things and she helps me to pack her lunch - she used to get a little upset when we did the shopping and say "can I have these" - insert child with puppy dog eyes holding a bag of pony biscuits! After explaining it to her she would then say "my friends mum's are too busy to cook for them - aren't they mum!"

    Good luck - I have really struggled with the vege patch this year (or lack of it and room)
    formally Kylie's Crafts.


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