Thirty days to a more sustainable you – Ready, set, go!

September is a time for new beginnings. The leaves begin to turn from green to golden, children go back to school and it is the beginning of a new routine. September can be a “change maker” for many of us.

In the spirit of “change” and new beginnings, I have an idea that I want to share, a project to try. This 30 day “game” is completely voluntary and was inspired by a book I read by Vanessa Farquharson titled, Sleeping Naked is Green, a very funny book documenting a year of her life wherein she commits to making daily “eco changes/choices”. She makes simple changes like using cloth bags versus plastic and tough changes like unplugging her refrigerator. Written like a journal, Farquharson shares the good, the bad and the funny that resulted from some of her more obscure eco choices.

Thirty days to a more sustainable you

I am not proposing a project that lengthy or complex. I am proposing a short 30-day challenge directed at those of us in the meeting and event industry: planners and suppliers. The challenge is to take 30 days of our life, make some simple changes, and as a result see what an impact our choices have. Did we save money? Did we improve our long-term health? Did we reduce the amount of waste generated, energy consumed? For those who already consider themselves “eco-savvy”, this project could help you to revisit the choices you are making and perhaps inspire you to take it one step further.

What are the rules? The rules are simple: make one environmentally friendly change/choice each and every day for 30 days. If you feel like sharing, you can tweet about it using the hasthag #30DaysofGreen and we can follow your progress.

At the core, it is about changing the thought process; it is about taking a look at our current “shade of green” and determining if we each can improve upon it.

Here are some simple ways to inject a shot of green:

Walk the talk – some examples:

  • Bring a bagged lunch from home
  • Use a travel mug
  • Purchase a stainless steel water bottle and use it!
  • Take public transit – leave the car at home for the month
  • Commit to one meat free day each week
  • Visit the local Farmer’s Market and purchase local produce
  • Turn down the thermostat
  • Turn off lights when leaving room
  • Volunteer for a local charity
  • Switch to washable, cloth grocery bags
  • Shower for four minutes or less
  • Read favourite newspaper online
  • Request electronic billing
  • Read the labels on existing cleaning products

Book club selections (some fuel to ignite ideas):

  • Sleeping Naked is Green
  • Ecoholic
  • David Suzuki’s Green Guide
  • Stirring it up – How to make money and save the world
  • The Lorax

Make a list – a Twitter list

  • Start following some eco-savvy folks on Twitter. Many of them post interesting links to articles and many have blogs of their own that are thought provoking and provide tremendous resources and inspiration.

After 30 days, will there be a winner? Everyone who attempts the 30 day challenge is a winner. Change is not easy, and any time we are pushed from our comfort zone, we begin to squirm. The same is true in the sustainable meeting and event industry. When we sit down with a vendor the first time, and try to sell them on the concept of sustainable meetings, we often get push back. Why? Because it pushes folks out of their comfort zone, they “don’t know, what they don’t know” and this can be a bit scary. The 30 day challenge gives us the opportunity to experience this feeling firsthand and as a result, perhaps become more empathetic to our attendees, vendors and clients.

Warning: Going green can become addictive. Ready, set, go!

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