Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Extreme Eco Throwdown

Last month I ran a poll regarding what people were willing to give up in order to be able to afford increased prices in food, energy, oil, etc. We are definitely looking at tightening the belt in many ways as food and energy prices climb.

One common comment on the post was people saying they couldn't do such and such or that it wasn't realistic. Well, since I like to push your buttons, I want to show you that, in many cases, it's not a case of not being able to do something, but not wanting to do it.

I want you to try to do something you otherwise thought would be impossible. In order to help you commit to this I'm running a new challenge. It's not until May, so you have a few weeks to prepare yourselves, both mentally and otherwise. You can choose to do one or more of the following suggested changes for a week or for the whole month.

For those of you who want to try a variety of things, you can do a different one each week or keep adding a new one per week. In any case, you have to go cold turkey on it. No halvsies, partial attempts or whatnot. What you do get, however, is a day of rest each week (if you want).

Here are the challenges. They get increasingly harder the higher the number:

1. No plastic - Don't buy or consume anything (purchases, food, etc.) that is encased in plastic. I don't care if it's recyclable. If you want to go all the way, this will include your shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. In other words, when in doubt, ask yourself, WWFPFD?

2. No paper products - This encompasses the obvious: no newspapers, paper towels, toilet paper, pads or tampons, paper plates, paper or coffee cups.

3. No driving - This one is pretty straightforward. Check out your public transit and bus routes, get yourself a monthly bus pass, get your bike tuned up or dust off those walking/running shoes.

4. Local food only - Depending on where you live, this may be fairly easy or quite difficult. For those of you with plenty of farmers markets to choose from and tons of different foods coming into season, it won't be too hard. Local bakery items (unless Sara Lee is local to you), local organic or sustainable dairy products, eggs, meats and wineries and breweries are all acceptable. Don't be afraid to forage for those dandelions!

5. No garbage output - You should only be producing waste that is compostable and it should go into your compost pile or your municipal food waste pickup.

6. No excessive water usage - Now, I'm not expecting you to dehydrate yourselves. What this one is about is conserving water. That means, very little water for showering, bathing, washing. Try to use the least amount of gallons of water you can. Pretend like there is a severe water shortage. Drink as much as you need to, just imagine you have to retrieve all your water in buckets from a stream 1 mile away.

7. No electricity - For some of you this may be easier if you rely on gas for heating and cooking. But for the most case, this will give you an idea what it will be like to not rely on power for a period of time. If you only want to try this one out for a day or a week, that's fine. It will be like a self-imposed power outage. For those of you who want to do this one, but don't want to clear out your fridge/freezer, you can leave it running - I'm not expecting you to go off the grid.

Are you crazy enough to try this one? Remember, you can take one day off per week. Think about it and if you're up for it, sign up by leaving a comment with which changes you are thinking about making and I'll add you to the sidebar. Like the Buy Nothing Challenge, I'll be having weekly check-ins to see how people are surviving.


Anonymous said...

I'm in for everything but no driving and no electricity, but I'll cut back even more on both. Twice a month I have to take a 200 mile round trip to check on someone, which I won't give up, but I'll limit myself to using the car on those trips only. And my stove and microwave are electric. I need to heat water. I'll learn more about solar ovens, but it won't work for morning tea in my tree filled yard.

Kate in NY

Sam said...

This is the best challenge yet!

I've been thinking of turning off our fridge for this is all the motivation I need. Having an underemployed husband to do all the cooking really helps.

Can I assume car pooling is allowed?

I was thinking of coming up with a fake-plastic-fish-o-meter sort of like that terrorist threat-o-meter with color coding to determine level of plastic in a product. Green being no plastic and red being non-recyclable-crap-plastic.

Burbanmom said...

Ooooohhhhhh. I am SO on board with this challenge. Although it may be the one that finally pushes hubby over the edge! :-)

Erin AKA Burbanmom

Anonymous said...

Ok, folks. I have a question. Do ya'll have any advice as to cheap ways to eat/ shop greener when on a extrememly restricted budget. My husband is a grad student and we have 3 (gonna be four) kids. I always try to do the healthiest options possible with our $100 a week food budget, but it seems that everytime I've tried the local, coop, partly organic route I cannot fit it into that budget. And it seems like the super affordable options are always wrapped in plastic - I can't get away from the stuff. Our town does not have a "close to date" or surplus whole foods store like the last town we moved from. I mean I guess I could choose some other things to do without this challenge, but would like to change our shopping habits anyway. Any advice, especially from anyone that has been super duper poor before?

noradawn said...

I love it I love it! Still trying to figure out which ones to do in which order. I think I'll probably driving for a week, no plastics for a week, only local eating for a week. No paper products is easy- it's how we always live anyway. The other things won't be easy. Living in the desert SW, there isn't a whole lot of food- but we have a greenhouse of 500 strawberry plants, so maybe we can be strawberry-a-terians that week! Thanks for the challenge.

Natural Louisville said...

I'll do it -- I work toward most of these all the time, anyway.

Frisky said...

dangit, crunchy! i had this great excuse for not going plastic-free: "i'll do it later." now i guess i don't have an excuse. i'm in for that part.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we'll do water? Wow. Going to have to think about that one. Just in time for good weather when we seem to forgo all thoughts of a simpler life and want to life it up! But we are a TON more serious this year, so thanks for the really difficult challenge. We do need something like this to push us. The food one might actually be do-able too...

Lisa Zahn said...

I'm in for most of them! Still gotta think about which ones I can/can't do, though. I'm thinking no electricity might be just for a day because of the fridge and freezer we still want to run. No driving will be hard, but I can certainly cut back and use the bus. Though I homeschool most of the time, I drive my kids to school 1-3x/week for some activities. We can maybe take a bus...

To anonymous on eating on a budget--our budget has been less than yours all year. It helped tremendously that in the summer we stocked up on locally grown beef, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries that we picked and froze or made jam, farmer's market tomatoes that we canned into sauce or froze whole, farmer's market squash and some other storables which lasted a while.

It also helps that I work at a food co-op and get a 15% discount, but also volunteers at our store can get up to an 18% discount. Could you volunteer at a food co-op? Or how about starting a food co-op through a company like Azure? You can find Azure and others online, and order with friends or neighbors and they'll deliver it to your house.

The advice in the Tightwad Gazette books on saving on food purchases is the best ever, anywhere, period. Check the books out at your library.

Other advice, if you find a good price, sale or otherwise, on something, can you use say 10% or $10 of your budget each week to stock up on it? Also, talk to local farmers about getting a deal on things. You may have to buy in larger quantities to get deals, but use just a portion of your budget for this.

Also, we eat little to no prepared foods. Dry grains, dry beans, veggies, etc. Make granola for cereal with oats and nuts, coconut, whatever's on hand or on sale. Bake muffins or cookies instead of crackers.

I think that's too much for Crunchy's comments section! I should write a book on this...Email me if you want to discuss this more. There are ways to do this. We've been doing it for over a year now...

maryann said...

I'm in.
1. No plastic: I've been trying for anyway so yes.
2. No paper: sorry I'm just not willing to give up the toilet paper yet.
3. No driving: I really wish but in order to pay the bills I need to work and there is no public transportation or carpooling options and work is 25 miles away.
4. Local food: Farm markets should be opening up, I'll give it a try.
5. No garbage: up for the challenge (does junk mail count?)
6. No excessive water usage: Already try to watch the water, we have a well
7 No electricity: Well water, can't do - no electricity no water.

Tracy G said...

Sign me up for a month of no paper, please. That should help me get my butt in gear (so to speak) to hem more toilet cloths.

Hannah said...

I think my family is up for it. We'll talk tonight and try to make a plan. I love the idea of showing how easy or hard it is to live without what we think we must have.

I remember my parents running out for groceries-- "just the essentials" was shorthand for toilet paper, orange juice, and Diet Coke. Now, twenty years later, my immediate family does not routinely buy any of these. How much else can we change from essential to luxury?

camp mom said...

Most everything on the list we could do except for driving. Where we live sorry no public transportation. Hubby drives 25 miles (carpools) each way to a 12 hour a day job. local stores are 20 miles the other way. We really limit our driving anyway because gas is expensive and we really try to do as many small errands as possible in one trip. And those trips are limited to every other once a month.

Since hubby is on a apnea machine it's not realistic to go completely w/out power. But we also are pretty conservative with the power anyway. Turning off and unplugging everything that draws power when not in use. We just bought some candles for when the last storm rolled thru and those can be made use of during the darker hours of evening. All locally made.

We haven't gotten a back-up plan for hubby with his apnea machine as of yet but we really should have one.

But count us in for this challenge. Most of the list of things is fairly second nature here.

Crunchy Chicken said...

I've updated the "no electricity" to let you keep your fridge/freezer running during the challenge so you don't waste a bunch of food if you aren't planning on doing this one for very long.

Also if you have medical equipment that requires electricity, that's fine. I just don't want you using electricity for non-essentials.

Anonymous said...

I'm assuming that we are allowed to use up items that are currently packaged in plastic. I'll probably do that one, just because I'm still a baby at this sort of thing. I have to admit, I had a moment of thinking of the stuff that I should get before May to prepare, and then I realized that I was trying not to buy anything in April. Nice job with the sequence of challenges ;-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Crunchy for clarifying the electricity guidelines. Also people with wells could turn off all but the well pump.

1. no plastic- I would like to, but realistically I would just buy everything the day before the challenge started and claim victory.
2. No Paper-will try for a week.
3. No driving- whew this one would be the hardest for me. I'll try to do a week. Hubby signs up for a month.
4. local food- We are in for this one. There is a local food challenge in my town for the month anyway.
5. no garbage-If we could manage the no plastic then we basically would have no garbage, we will just keep it to a minimum.
6. low water use-sign us up for a month, we do this already.
7. No electricity-wow, MIL may be here 2 weeks into May, so can only commit to 2 weeks at most, but may only do one. Fridge an freezer stay plugged in.
Cindy in FL

Anonymous said...

Too funny - I had been planning the no plastic as a personal challenge for next month anyway, so I'm definitely in for that at least. If I can get enough cloths made up before May I'll be in for no paper as well. That's really the only paper I haven't already cut out.

Hmmm, does TP use at work count? I suppose I could always bring a little zip-case of cloths along, but the idea of toting used cloths kinda squicks me out.

WalkingGreen said...

I'm in.
1. No plastic: I've been working on the no plastic life and I can do this.
2. No paper: The only paper used is toilet paper...sorry, can't give it up as of yet.
3. No driving: I wish that could be a permanent deal, however we have no public transportation and the farmers market/co-op is not within a reasonable walking distance. However, I will limit my driving to once a week and DH only drives 2 miles each way to the bus stop. (No sidewalks, and not safe for biking).
4. Local food: Already there.
5. No garbage: I recycle and compost, not a big deal.
6. No excessive water usage: Not a big deal, we are under water restrictions due to drought.
7 No electricity: I use electricity to cook--but if I am using my oven, I cook two meals at the same time to cut down on usage. So, I will cut back even more than I have, etc.

AleciaMarie said...

I'm down. My husband may hate me for it, but I'm so in on this!

(the driving one is going to kill me though!) :)

Chile said...

Question: no electricity means no computer which means no keeping up with the blogs. Surely, that is not your intent?

Gotta talk to my sweetie before committing us (to your mental institution here), Crunchikins.

Anonymous said...

hmmm.guess my comment didn't go through earlier. bummer.

anonymous - our CSA has a program that subsidizes CSA membership for low-income community members. Regular CSA membership costs $17 a week , and I think subsidized is half that. So that would be $8.50 a week for a huge sack of local organic veggies - check localharvest to se if maybe a CSA near you has a similar program.

let's see -
plastic - no way no how. I have two toddlers who are hopelessly addicted to dairy, and I can't think of any dairy that doesn't come in plastic - even our local organic raw milk comes in glass jars with plastic caps, and they pack their yogurt in plastic tubs. There is one deli in town that still wraps cheese in butcher paper, but I couldn't do no plastic *and* no paper, and I think I have a more realitstic chance of succeeding with paper.

paper - I'm in for a week, possibly longer. Our major paper consumption is cereal boxes and the little packaging from yogurt cups and granola bars. If I can use the week to come up with better food alternatives for the children, I'll extend indefinitely. One caveat is that my husband is still not on board with the cloth wipes, and I value my marriage, so I won't take his toilet paper away (but we only buy toilet paper every 2 months, so it won't be an issue anyway)

driving - nope. we don't live on a busline, and on a major state highway. walking/bussing are unfortunately not an option for us.

local food only - I'll give it the college try! we're in upstate NY, and we're in that unfortunate period between the end of last year's preserved veggies and the beginning of the harvest in June.

garbage output - we'll try! of course, a lot of this depends on my daughter's nightime potty training. She refuses to wear the nice cloth bedwetter pants I bought her, and so we use one disposable diaper a night.

no excessive water usage - already do this. we're on a well. so in on that one.

no electricity - nope. I need the electricity to run the well pump. at least all our electricity is hydro and wind.

I actually think plastic is the hardest of these challenges. It's really insidious, and sneaks in EVERYWHERE.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I will participate. However, for the non-driving I will be unable to accommodate. There is not a true public transportation here and my husband must drive to school in the next town five days a week. He does plan to bike some of these days since the weather is warmer.

Unfortunately public transportation here means that you call the office of transportation and they drive from the next town over in their small bus, pick you (and 99% of the time, you alone) up then drive you back to that town and do it again to get you home. It is better for the environment to drive ourselves, combining any errands, than to have a bus drive to and fro twice the distance we'd be driving.

homebrewlibrarian said...

I'm in but not as completely as I'd like.
1. No plastic: Except for the fact that one of the CSAs I'm in packages every other item in a plastic bag (and then puts it all in a big bag inside the box), I think this is doable (I just sent them a message about packaging. We'll see what they say). I'll just have to start toting my own reusable food containers along with my own steel drink mug. The only food items that I buy that come in plastics are meats and since there's meat in the freezer and I don't eat much of it to begin with, I should be fine there.
2. No paper: Same problem with the CSA. Some things come in brown paper bags. Junk mail I recycle. But this is the push I need to move to toilet cloth and bringing a hand towel to work to dry my hands.
3. No driving: I've been working on this for a while. I recently moved and can walk to work although I'm on two bus lines so that's even easier. It's about dried out here from winter and I can't wait to get back on my bike. I will, however, be on vacation in Wisconsin for the middle part of the month staying at a friend's place in a very rural area so for that part, no driving (and probably most everything else in this challenge) is not an option.
4. Local food: Not very doable yet. Our farmer's markets don't have much produce until June. The CSA I have right now comes out of Washington state (shipped to Alaska). I will, however, continue to eat up the stored foods I put up last year.
5. No garbage: Easy for me. I haven't taken out any garbage since the beginning of February because I don't need to (and I have a small garbage bin). Most of what gets discarded is compostable.
6. No excessive water usage: Already cut way back but need to do more in terms of washing dishes. I can do this one.
7 No electricity: I've cut way back but can't go cold turkey. Mostly because I have a bunch of vegie starts under lights and more to plant. But I'll look for more ways to reduce.

Okay, I'm in for no plastic or paper (if I can get the CSA to stop with the packaging), no driving, no garbage and reduced water usage. Wish me luck!

Kerri in AK

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog....I LOVE IT!! Don't know what I am going to do for this challenge yet, but I am up for it. Not to totally plug myself, but I sell cloth plastic "baggie" alternatives (among other things )over at

It really helped me reduce my plastic consumption and the cloth napkins means no more paper towels.

Now...what to do for this challenge

Green Bean said...

I'm in for the plastic and the garbage.

We already do the local food.

We have some health issues that require driving several days a week but I'll pledge to do 2-3 car-free days a week. Also, we have one car trip planned to see family we haven't seen since Christmas.

Electricity and paper: sorry, just not there yet. As Chile points out, it will be one quiet blogosphere with everyone go electricity-free.

No excess water usage: already there except the remainder of the front lawn, which I agonize over daily. Will have to talk to hubby about that one.

To anonymous: several local CSAs also offer sliding scales. You might check those out or ones where you can volunteer at the farm for a share of your CSA. Also, you might consider growing a few things from seed - nothing is cheaper than seed. I don't know where you live but beans seem to grow easily from seed, lettuce and peas as well. Pumpkins are supposed to though I haven't planted those yet. Also, buying "cosmetically challenged" fruit at the farmers' market and using it for jam or juice or pies is a good way to go. Several vendors at our market sell bruised apples, very ripe strawberries and stone fruit super cheap. Good luck.

JessTrev said...

I'm in for #1-4 and 6 - this should be good for me! I love your challenges. Thanks for stretching me.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at the number of people who think that #6 no excessive water usage is no big deal. Are sponge baths out of a 5 gal bucket really no big deal? I don't know about you, but I don't think I can carry any more than that over a 1 mile distance. Actually, this is the perfect option to combine with no electricity for those on well systems.

Miss Kris said...

Anyone else have a problem persuading their spouses to participate in the challenges? If so, what do you do/say to convince them to go along with the crunchiness?

My husband and I have been together for 4.5 years and I still have to remind him to do something as simple as take a canvas bag with him when he goes to the store. I think the only May challenge he'd be OK with is the not driving (maybe).

Our water usage has gone up quite a bit since our son came along since we use cloth diapers. We could reduce water consumption other ways, though. However, I think I'd have to keep our electricity on for the washing machine because I would likely use waaay more water if I had to hand wash diapers.

Maggie said...

Okay, well I am not sure where to start. Crunchy Chicken, I love your blog but I have to admit my high degree of anxiety with this challenge. I am weak and fully willing to admit that most of this sounds insanely difficult to me. No plastic? Does it count when everything you are using (purchased before May) is in plastic? That doesn't seem like going without and going without seems impossible. Plastic is everywhere! I would love to go without plastic but even the hankerchief's I purchased today, to cut down on paper use, were in a plastic bag! I think cutting down on paper use would be great too. But I am honestly more than a little bit freaked about cloths that people are talking about using. As I said, I am new here and though the Diva Cup didn't freak me, toilet cloths do. And doesn't that just cause more water waste having to clean the toilet cloths? I would think that a family of 4 could use a lot of them. I could cut back on electricity. Here in Fl we had those three hurricanes in a row in 2004 and we were without all electricity for 2 weeks. I didn't like it but I learned a lot in those 2 weeks. But cooking is difficult without electricity. I will admit that I only got by because of my gas grill! Sorry this is so long, but I just had to be honest. I will mull over what I can honestly accomplish and thanks for all the inspiration and thought provocation!

ruchi said...

Hmmm. I kind of already do a lot of this, just not to an extreme extent. I don't use tampons, don't use toilet paper for #1 at home, I buy bulk foods which means very little plastic buying, and am taking public transit to work.

I could do better about buying local and I could get my act together and start worm composting. And probably one of those will be my May challenge to myself. I'm still working on figuring that out.

And I don't think doing without electricity is feasible for me. For one, I can't because, well, I have a job and my job won't let me sit in my cube in the dark with my computer turned off! :) And on the weekends, well, I could sit in my apartment in the semi-dark, but I prefer to be out and about on the weekends. And anywhere I go to will likely, have electricity. And to me it seems like it defeats the purpose of the no electricity experiment if I don't have electricity in my apartment, but go to the library, the grocery, and a restaurant all with running electricity.

So I think I'm going to say that I agree to little plastic, very little paper, less driving, and less garbage. Once I figure out what my personal May challenge is, I'll be able to figure out what I'm doing regarding the local food and/or the worm composting.

But that's all stuff I would have done anyway. So here is what I'm going to agree to specifically in honor of your challenge.

1) I would like to not use toilet paper at work. I am going to see if I can figure out a way to make this workable and try it out for at least a week. I really wish I had a mini spray bottle that I could use for work, but I guess I'll have to make do with a used plastic water bottle or some such.

2) I am going to try navy showers. It'll be warm enough that I think this shouldn't be a problem.

Anonymous said...

Let's see...

1. No plastic: Hrm...technically, that would mean no sex all month if I did that. I'll promise no plastic except for the little square wrapping kind. ;-)

2. No paper: I'm in!

3. No driving: I can't drive anyway! But I'll try to bike instead of bus whenever possible.

4. Local food: The growing season doesn't really start up until late May here, sadly, and we're pretty much out of preserved stuff from last summer. But I can try for all local beans and grains.

5. No garbage: See above under "plastic". Otherwise, I'm in!

6. No excessive water usage: I'm in!

7 No electricity: I can definitely do no-electricity weekends, though the other inhabitant of this apartment isn't necessarily going to join in, which makes things a bit complicated. You conveniently picked one of two months in which I don't have classes, and so don't need the computer for homework :-)

Theresa said...

I am similarly anxious for the reasons mkjm pointed out. Realistically, I don't know if I can honestly and absolutely commit to any of these at this point in my life. I'm doing a fair amount of reducing in most of these areas, some more than others, but wow, some of it seems impossible to do while still going to work five days a week to pay the bills.

At first I thought I could at least commit to the water challenge because we do conserve a lot already, being on a cistern. But to do it as though I would be hauling water from a mile away with a bucket, I know I would give in sooner or later. If I had the month of May off of work, I could really be hard core about some of these challenges. Which is sad really, because it means I'm just not ready to give up some things yet. Very humbling.

Maybe I'm over-analyzing - I tend to do that. I'll have to mull this over and talk to Husband about it, and then decide what to do.

Thanks for making me think about my priorities Crunchy.

Anonymous said...

I'll agree on the water thing being hard. My water main broke earlier this year and I was without water for FIVE days. It was a great challenge for about half a day, then it was no fun. I've been really conscious of my water usage since then. I'll skip that part of the challenge this time.

Sign me up for NO DRIVING for the entire month, save for one weekend that I have planned down in Seattle. I'll also go for the no plastic and no garbage. I'll also do one week of modified no electricity, keeping my fridge on.

Seriously, the water thing was hard. I think a good mini-challenge would be a two day shutoff. Just not being able to wash a sticky spot of HONEY off my hand without a big production was maddening. Flushing with a bucket, sponge baths, washing dishes in a basin and reducing myself to one spoon and one bowl. *laugh* After three days, I was nearing squalor, I'm not kidding. It completely changed every system I thought I had for this kind of emergency too. You just don't know until you HAVE to.

Anonymous said...

miss kris -- I just don't expect my boyfriend to go along with most of the challenges. I'm not counting his water/plastic/paper/etc in with mine. I'm sure he's bought things this month, for example, though I have to restrain myself from strategically mentioning that I'd like him to get something for me while he's out. Food is really the only thing that we have to agree on, and if I volunteer to cook, he's usually happy with whatever I make.

Anonymous said...

Miss Kris said: "Anyone else have a problem persuading their spouses to participate in the challenges?"

I'm lucky here -- my boyfriend doesn't actively seek out ways to be eco-friendly, but he's more than happy to participate when they're presented. I always just try to make it look easier to do it one was and not another ("Oh, man, we won't have a ton of plastic bags under the sink anymore!"). Making things look cheaper helps, too ("wow, our electric bill sure was cheaper after we started turning off the lights for an hour a day!).

Jenette said...

Wow ... I am starting to flunk out of the Buy Nothing Challenge and you are moving to the next level. This will require some discussion at home but I would like to take on the "No plastic" challenge. I just posted my trash for the last week on the NIM blog and a lot of it was plastic. Even worse non recyclable plastic.

Joyce said...

Chile, I've been chuckling all this time about all the people who give up major appliances, cars, plastic, but still hang on to those computers. I'd be willing to bet that's the hardest thing of all for everyone to give up!

You know, we're so close on all of these, I feel really good about what we're doing. If we do any of it, it will be the driving.

AleciaMarie said...

Many people have mentioned that they can't do no electricity because they have to use it at work- but I am assuming that this is an "at home" challenge. It's not like we can actually NOT use electricity if we are to leave the house...I mean, technically you are "using electricity" when you are obeying stop lights or riding the bus, right?

I'm just concentrating on doing these things at home (I'll still not buy plastic or paper during the day though). I'm not giving up TP at work or anything else that may cause my boss to question my sanity... ;)

Crunchy Chicken said...

You guys sure do get ambitious, don't you?

I'm not expecting you to arrive at work, turn off the power to the building and shut off the water main in the parking garage. This is an at-home thing for the most part.

The no-paper challenge can be taken on the road if you want, but I don't want you guys to have bowel and bladder issues from holding it and waiting until you get at work to do your bidness.

Crunchy Chicken said...

As for electricity to run your computers, well, I'm not about to stop posting for the month of May...

My feeling is that there is more to gain there than having the TV off for the whole month. Has that sunken in yet?

cindy24 said...

Will be in for the water one. When expanding my house I lived in my Avion trailer w/o runnin water. I took "showers" with 3 gallons of water I poured over my head. The kids took baths with another 3 gallons. That is a great way to see eactly what you use. I am going to have to buy something (a hand pump thing) to get the water out of the tub to water my yard and veges. For whatever reason my water takes a while to heat up. I have a tankless system. Will have to make sure to catch all that water and use it on the plants. Have wanted to do this and now I have a deadline. Thanks

Anonymous said...

My commitment is to continue to reduce my consumption of plastic, paper and garbage, as well as water and electricity, to drive less, and to increase my use of local foods (much easier to do now that it's garden season). I am not willing to eliminate all of the above at this point, but am OK with the fact that I am walking the path.

Jessica at Practical Nourishment

Anonymous said...

I'm working very hard on getting rid of the plastic-- maybe this will get me to make my own yogurt and bread. Still trying to work around the plastic milk containers.

The farmers markets open in May, so eating local will get easier.

The other cuts are being worked on, but cannot go all-out without serious family issues.

Theresa said...

My mentioning being able to do more of these things if I didn't have to go to work wasn't because I would feel I'd have to commit to doing them at work too. It was because just having to get ready for, drive to, and be at work 9 hours a day 5 days a week impacts how I can do things at home and how much time I have to do them. One example of this is that I have to use electricity and water to get myself presentable enough for work, and I live 50 kms away from my job in a place with no public transit so I have to drive there.

It seems like one of the points of this particular challenge is to just do it no matter what, for a week or a month, no exceptions, other than the allowed day off. That's what makes it an extreme eco throwdown! I may not be up to the challenge and it and it makes me mad at myself, because it means I'm a hypocrite, not willing to make the necessary sacrifices to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk. Got more thinking to do...

lauren said...

Theresa, thank you for saying exactly what I had on my mind. I'm a teacher at a charter school with insane hours, so I'm out of the house 13-14 hours a day. Def. some reprioritizing needed there. I thought to myself, "I wish this happened in June!"

That should make it easier to do this "at home," but I need convenience in many ways to have some balance between work and home (i.e. take-out food waste, a car so I don't have to walk up a full hour earlier).

I will need to talk with my live-in boyfriend to see what is doable. I am aware that I am still in the "tiny choices" phase; throwdown is a ways away.

Tina Cardone said...

Can we spend the rest of this month brainstorming how each of these would work? For example: I'm thinking electricity is okay, since I can go to the library for the computer, I hardly watch tv and use natural light all day. But what about when it gets dark? How will I keep myself entertained? I'm interested, but I need some extra encouragement!

Robj98168 said...

Seattle, WA – Noted blogger “Crunchy Chicken” is wanted by the FBI, WSP and numerous Oil Companies in the connection of thousands of computer users who had heart attacks today when reading her latest challenge, The Eco Throwdown.
Neighbors of MS. Chicken were shocked when they heard the news. “She was always such a quite thing,” said Erma Fullbladder, one neighbor, “Never made any trouble. Another neighbor, Sven Svensgarrd said “Yeah- but she always had those crazy notions like that Buy Nothing scheme of hers to put Walmart and target out of business” Still another neighbor said- “Imagine asking people to do without the basic comforts of home. What is she a Nut?”
Still many of Chicken’s followers have decided to form an alliance with her on this eco challenge. One of these followers, RobJ98168 said, from a fallout shelter in the neighboring city of Burien, “It would be so easy to go ahead with 100% of this challenge but I need to drive to work as King County Metro busses don’t work my shift, and I need electricity to power my computer so I can see the latest CHICKEN folly. That and I like to wipe my ass after pooping!
Police are asking anyone who has seen Ms. Chicken to not try to apprehend her. She is armed with a DIVA pad and not afraid to use it.

Theresa said...

lauren - thanks. I wasn't sure if I should press 'publish' or not with that one.

Jenn said...

I've got a lot of this challenge on the go already, but I like that I think it's going to push me to do a few things that I've been meaning to for awhile, to get those last dregs of bad habits on their way out. The big things on my mind right now are no paper and no plastic - this is a great puch to knit up those reusable produce bags I keep talking about making, and to finally sew up some reusable pads.

I'm a little lost about how I might accomplish no paper and no plastic all at the same time, though (not that this is necessarily in the challenge - just trying to think things through). Things like baking soda and other staples only come in plastic bulk bags or paper cartons around here, and the local bulk place won't accept glass jars for fear of contamination of some kind or another...any thoughts?

Nova said...

ooo golly you make life hard! ;) BuyNothing in the month that i'm stocking up for new baby, then this the month i'm due! Still mighty tempting though.. will have to have a hard think about what we will able to manage :)

lae21 said...

I am in for eating local food, but I have a question about that. Are we talking just produce, things that were grown/processed/packaged locally? Just made locally (local bread, but the wheat doesn't have to be local)? I've been trying to eat only produce from CA, OR, WA, but with farmer's markets starting it will be easier to eat within my county.

homebrewlibrarian said...


You totally crack me up!! I almost snorted soup out my nose (with big chunks of potato and ham, that would have hurt).

Thanks for the afternoon levity!


Kerri in AK

Unknown said...

I haven't had garbage picked up here in a month (through fault of my manager I think). So totally doable!

I would be in, but have to have electricity to power my stove since I am in an apartment and can't use a propane stove. I can use just the burners though and not the oven (also here it would be worse environmentally for me to use propane)

I will still have to use some paper and plastic (meds come in plastic case, not an option to switch :/), various business stuff and the like.

Also, it can be hard of freezers to turn them off for more than a couple weeks, so might want to keep them plugged in! I used 1.9 kw of electricity a day in my old apartment and that was with the fridge being really inefficient. Now I use more since I use the "spin" cycle on my washing machine to extract water, which cuts down drastically on water use.

As for BBN- with the exception of a business purchase. My food spending is still high though, so maybe a no plastic/minimal paper would help that.

homebrewlibrarian said...

Oh, yeah, and an update on the plastic/paper packaging issue with the non-local CSA...

I got a reply that in essence says they're looking at more environmentally friendly packaging but for now because of the way they have things set up with their suppliers, nothing will change. Nor will they accept back any packaging they send out.

Guess that means all I can do for paper and plastic during May is reduce everything but that. Pity.

Kerri in AK

Robj98168 said...

I am in the following categories:
1-No plastic- Already have been trying to be a little FPF.
2-No Paper Products- All ok. Cancelled the paper last month anyway. But I need my TP- a clean hiney is a happy hiney. Or so my dog's groomer says about expressing his anal glands.
3-No Driving- I am afraid this is not doable for me. The bus doesn't run to my schedule. We all at work have been talking aobut this. And King County Metro is not very accomadintg to folks who work second or third shift. I do pledge to ride my scooter more in may, and also on the weekends I already use metro quite a bit.
4-Local Food Only- with the farmers markets all opening up this is very do-able
5-No Garbage output see # 1
6-No excessive water usage- I already do this- but with a new front yard going in don't know if I will be able to stay with this
7- No electricity- No Way!

Laura said...

Uh, Crunch? Do you have some kind of insider knowledge that the ecosh!t is going to hit the fan? I mean other than the general knowledge that we all have? It seems rather like you had a premonition and decided to whip us all into shape real quick like. Wouldn't it be weird if the world imploded and only the readers of the Chrunchy Chicken blog were well prepared? ;)

1. No plastic. Yes. I can do that, I think. I will get a 'WWFPFD?' tat just as a handy reminder.

2. No paper products. Hmmm, yes? I have sewn the cloth wipes but Boyfriend and I have not started using them yet. I guess we will now!
Q- Can I read the free papers around Seattle (Stranger, Conscious Choice) and then put them back? I can you say? Okgreatthx. :)

3. No driving - Yes. No car, so this one is partially in the bag. I'm going to say no Zipcar rentals. I'm not sure if Boyfriend will be on-board with this but we shall see. Also we are moving him from his apartment into our apartment in May so I may have to beg for an exception.

4. Local food only - Yes! I should plan some meals and I may have to have local to Seattle mean Oregon and Eastern Washington. This will be a nice kick in the but to get to the farmers market every week.

5. No garbage output - Hmmm. Alright, yes. I guess if I am doing everything else that would just be automatic right? Sweet!

6. No excessive water usage - Yes. Oh my beloved showers, how I will miss you so. I'm in on this one too. I am guessing I will be using my day off for sure on this, though. :D

7. No electricity - We are moving into a home with (sadly) an electric stove, so I reserve the right to use that to cook up all my tasty local food. And... and...even if I have to sit in the dark listening to it knead and bake my bread, I have to use my breadmaker!

You were right, this is a whopper.

ANewDay said...

Hubby and I have decided we can go for a couple of these. He has started to get into the groove with the April challenge and actually perked his ears up when I said "Crunchy has the next challenge up".

We went through the list and we are definitely doing all local foods. Granted Blue Bell ice cream and Brenham is just a hop down the road from us. Oh the torture of eating Blue Bell as our local option :o)

No plastic is going to be on the radar in that we are starting our exploration for how to minimize it with our food options. Why the heck do the farmers market ranchers use so darn much plastic?!? We are definitely going to do "no plastic" for all non-food options and try to do as much for our food options. I'm afraid that I already know of the cat/dog food that I can't get around the plastic for the frozen meat we purchase.

ANewDay said... the challenge and thinking about :

"No halvsies, partial attempts or whatnot."

Okay, trying to think about how I can do No Plastic without doing a halvsie or a whatnot when I know for sure that I can't escape plastic to feed the critters.

So put me down 100% (no halvsies or whatnot) for the local food.

I have to put in some thought on the others and brainstorm with the hubby.

AleciaMarie said...

OK, after speaking to the husband, he shot down the electricity challenge and the no car challenge (he reminded me that I get to work earlier than the buses do...doh!)

I will still work very diligently to drastically cut the usage of these two items.

BUT I am still down for the rest of them. ;)

Unknown said...

They don't call me loving green for no reason... ha, ha, ha. I am in on this one :) I will take part in all 7 sub-challenges. I am excited that this challenge comes at the same time our local farmers market opens up :)

Sam @ Loving Green

Anonymous said...

I deleted my first comment - totally missed the line about "no halvsies."

In that case, we're in for #6 all the way!

lae21 said...

Hmm, I'm also thinking that being a vegan will make my local food challenge harder, since I will have no animal-free oil sources, no wheat for seitan or bread, very little beans, no sugar/sweeteners, no tofu, no non-diary products, and I don't believe any nuts/flax seeds to get omegas. Maybe I'll just have to go with made in Humboldt County instead of grown, made, and sold in Humboldt County. How is everyone else defining "local"?

ruchi said...

Oh geez. No halfsies! What about 7/8thsies? Nine tenthsies? Okay, well I guess that means I'm in for the water challenge and that's it.

Crunchy Chicken said...

About the halvsies - don't get too wrapped up in it. One person's halvsies is not the same as another's. If you have to allow something because you have no choice, I'd rather you participate. You can let us know what you're sneaking in during the weekly check-ins.

For example, if the only way you have to cook is via electricity, well then, use it if you aren't interested in going raw or building yourself a cheapo solar cooker.

Just try to eliminate it elsewhere (like hair dryers, lighting, etc.) The thing is, I want you to try to do it, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater if you're close.

Niffer said...

Well, since like many others, I've been trying to do many of these things already, I'm in. Hopefully this will be the push I need.
I will opt out of #4 as the Farmer's Market that is within walking distance doesn't start until June. I'm also going to put a twist on #5 and if I do use any plastic or paper I will collect it for the month just as an extra wake up call. I also have no way to compost right now; I'd run out and buy a bin and worms right now if it wasn't for that pesky April challenge ;-).
As for #7????? I had already thought about restricting myself to 2 hours of electricity a day. I'm going to say that I'm not committing 100% to this one, but I will have a couple of no electric days this month.
So in summary, #1, #2, #3 and #6. Yes, definitely yeah. No, really.

Unknown said...

Alright it's time to stop being an eco-weenie and commit to something. Put me down for a week of no paper, a week of no driving, and a week of no excessive water usage.

Kelsie said...

I'm in it for plastic, but as someone so sagely mentioned...condoms have plastic wrappings...and I can't give up condoms, lest I be forced to buy even more the form of dozens of home pregnancy tests. So, no plastic for me, with the exception of condoms. :) We may have enough stocked up, however, that I need not buy any.

My boyfriend claims he can't live without his plastic-wrapped frozen pizzas for a month, but I think I'm going to convince him to try, on the stipulation that I make him some pizzas from scratch.

We've already been without electricity for a month (the house was being rewired), so, although it sounds terrible of me, I'm not sure I'm ready for another month without working light switches.

Anyway...definitely on board for no plastic (aside from condoms) and I'm going to work at the no non-compostable waste issue, as well.


Anonymous said...

I was going to try no plastic, but I have tried to not buy any at the grocery store and is very hard to do. My family loves cheddar cheese... comes in plastic. My family will freak over no electric and I already preach about water usage. Then I thought about no garbage. We are already composting and have gone from 5 garbage bags a week to 1 (which is mostly plastic from packaging).
Ok, Ok, I will try the no plastic for one week....

Theresa said...

Ok. I've done some serious thinking about what I can commit to with full intention. So sign me up officially for a month's worth of #5: no non- compostable garbage. I will be stepping up my efforts in all the other areas as well, but I don't think I can honestly commit to them 100% right now.

Anonymous said...

We've been working on most of these anyway, our most recent victory being in the no paper product area (and the kids are loving their cloth wipes!)

I am not up for the NO DRIVING challenge though. Being so pregnant, hauling three children, and living in the suburbs- hey, I have my excuses.

LOCAL FOOD would be another issue.

Other than that, I'm in! Will blog about the details.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a challenge! Sign me up for no plastic and reduced water usage. I will see about no paper (have to check it with my darling), but we will also do the no non-compostable garbage. This gives me a couple weeks to find someone with a compost bin we can use (there isn't one in our apartment complex). Thanks for this great idea!

Anonymous said...

It can only be me committing to this one (husband will NEVER do it) and I am still not 100% there. But I am planning on the no driving for the month. I already have the luxury of not driving Mon-Fri and I think I can easily cut out one weekend day per week. I will try to carpool to the grocery store and other places just to see if I can do it. It will be tough.

Anonymous said...

Alas, I don't think I can do it. No plastic is my favorite, but it would mean no dairy products, and that's not going to work for me. (Or it would drive me to non-recyclable paper milk cartons, which is worse than recyclable plastic!) But I am going to come up with a plastic-reduction challenge for my own blog.

Anonymous said...

We will have to make a plan, but I think we can do no plastic for a week (maybe the whole month, we'll have to observe our current habits). Local food, we can do either for a week or every weekend. No electricity for a day or maybe every weekend. No driving for a week (husband doesn't drive, so that's a freebie for him). Again, we have to think about what's doable and do a little research and self-awareness to see what we eat already (I know it's mostly local, but where do my bulk oats come from...?)

Greenpa said...

Wow, Crünchii! You're the freaking Pied Piper! :-)

Hot diggity! I'm really impressed by the people willing to move to the "extreme" column.

Though I may still be able to beat ya- read my comment over at Colin's today- How to... if ya wanna see how "extreme" I'm thinking nowadays.

ANewDay said...

Crunchy's comments on halvies helps.

Okay, put me down for Local
Food and No Plastic.

I know I'm going to have plastic for food to meet the local challenge and feed the fur monsters but I'm going to rack my brains to cut as much as I possibly can.

Anonymous said...

Ok, Crunchy. I'm moving on May 1, and I'm STILL going to do this challenge. Already did the Diva Cup, and I'm Buying Nothing. (Even found boxes and packing supplies for free.)

Ellen said...

I'm in but I have a question: where/what can I use for toothpaste, shampoo, etc that isn't in plastic? Dr Bronners, I know, sells a bar of soap. Can I use this for shampoo? What about toothpaste? Baking soda? I am all for not buying anything in plastic (such a individual yogurt tubes, toys etc) but I'm stumped at the hygiene thingees.

I commit to:

1. No plastic (see above)

2. No paper products (using cloth wipes, towels, hankies, the Keeper)

4. Local food only - Farmer's Market food it is! Mmm...

5. No garbage output - Without the plastic I think this should be fine.

6. No excessive water usage - I will work on shorter showers and saving the warm up water.

Anonymous said...

cant do the driving. School isn,t within range of a reliable service. already do cloth wipes etc. Haven,t convinced the family to go the whole way yet. plastic is nearly impossible if we want to eat but will do our best. have already cut everything lots. don,t get paper round here....just bills! we already put in solar water heating. Great in summer but needs the occasional boost in winter, so electricity is not much of an issue except for work (we work from home). don,t have tv. Compost via the hens. Might try the electricty one out of work hours though it is coming into winter round here. The water one looks possible too. I'll have a go at the local food too. we do alot of that already so should be able to do the rest.

interesting challenge
viv in New Zealand

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm in. Well, at least the baby and I are in - no guarantees about the rest of the family.

Here's what I'll work on:
No plastic
No paper
No garbage output
No excessive water usage

Anonymous said...

before I committ - I know I know it sounds like stalling - when you say no electricity: how can I check my emails? Also, does the challenge include the time I spent at work?
I am 'busy' buying nothing this month but this one takes the cake. Way to go, crunchy munchy!!

Enough said...

Great challenge!

I will go cold turkey with #4 (local food) and #7 (no excessive water).

In order to go cold turkey with #4, I have to do halvsies with some of the others. For example, I know some of the local farmers/ranchers use plastic for their products, and I have to drive to the farmers market.... but I'm going to go as hard as I can with the other goals, too. I need to figure out a goal for plastic, paper, and garbage, but I think for driving, I will winnow down to 1-3 trips/week and for electricity, I will try one "power outage" day every week.

Anonymous said...

and i thought i was squeamish proof on challenges! sorry, but i will use your guidelines to create my own challenge. i work, no buses, i drive. i will only drive to work, grocery store once per week, and stay home 1 day on the weekend. killing frost is possible until june 10th up here, can't do exclusively local food.

1 week - no plastic - i will continue to use my items already encased in plastic, i will acknowledge them, grieve, and i will not buy ANY new.

1 week - no paper - for me this challenge is only #2 wipes

1 week of electricity one hour per day

4 weeks - extreme water shortage, i'm already a 1x/wk showerer

Anonymous said...

I'm going for it - a great way to jump start my green-ness. And I just bought my first Diva cup a few weeks ago - I actually can't wait to start menstruating (first time for that) so that I can use it!

-PS I'm a new, but faithful, reader.

ehmeelu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I'm going to try my best at each of the items but I already know it will be hard for me to succeed 100% on all of them. i.e. I am not giving up my T.P. sorry, I just can't! I will try to eliminate as much as humanly possible for our family for the paper & plastic. I agree with another poster, it is hard when you have dairy loving kids in the house and most dairy is packaged in plastic. No driving is unfortunately out of the question as we live in the country and there is zero public transportation out here. We are so far away from the center of our town we can't walk to library, grocery store, school, etc. Local food I will try to improve on. We belong to a CSA but I try to cut back on non-local supermarket purchases. We do pretty well at water conservation, but again will try to take it up a notch. Electricity runs our well pump so we would never beable to completely go with out it... plus I'm not willing to give up the fridge/freezer. I will work on improving our existing conservation effects.
Really great challege by the way. It's nice to be forced out of the comfort zone.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I sat down with my husband and we made some goals for the x-treme eco month.

Goal 1: No new plastic for a week (May 1st-7th). We will evaluate after that to see if the whole month is doable. A major concern is that as part of my job, I shop for healthy snacks for 15 children who are being cared for while their parents improve their English. These snacks invariably involve plastic.

Goal 2: No electricity from bedtime Friday to Sunday whenever we feel like turning it back on. We will also unplug the frigo. Weekdays would be tough b/c I need an alarm clock and the computer at least 1 hour/day for my job. We'll evaluate after the first weekend, and I might make some specific challenges for myself during the week that allow these exemptions.

Goal 3: Local eating every weekend and Thursday evenings, with an exemption for coffee (not daily, but a small yet significant pleasure a few times a week..) We have to research where the wheat in our farmer's market bread comes from and where our oats come from before doing the full-month plunge.

Goal 4: No driving May 21st through the 31st. None for husband. As it is, I only drive Monday through Wednesday, but for those ten days, I won't at all.

Goal 5: I am a teacher, and my daily 3-hour class doesn't have a book, so I use A LOT of paper. I will reduce my photocopies by having 1 day a week without handouts. I will also wait until all of my students have arrived before making the photocopies, to ensure that I don't overproduce.

Anonymous said...

Mkay. I thought about specifics for the month of May:

1) Buy nothing beyond essential items related to food, safety and care. If purchases are made they cannot contain plastics unless safety related with no other option.

2) No Paper towel usage. I have a dependency and I need to quit cold turkey. Not ready to give up the TP yet, but restocking with seventh generation.

3) Local food Saturdays. No wasted food/compost if needed throughout the entire month (All of my meals are provided by my job and I cannot afford to eat much beyond that.)

4) No excessive water usage. I've started timing my showers (5 minutes and Navy Style) and using the water that leaks from the bathroom faucet to brush my teeth, wash my face, water my plants and wash my dishes - though I'm hoping to get it fixed soon.

5) No TV Saturdays.

6) No driving, beyond these two trips: 1) Driving (in a hybrid) to KY for my partner's med school graduation ceremony. 2) Trip to the town over at the end of May for the Tom Petty concert - my mother's day gift to mom. Everything else is biking/walking.

I took care in assessing this for my supa' poor college student budget, needs for success in class and job responsibilities.

ED said...

Very cool challenges! This is my first time to this site.

The "No plastic" seems *much* harder than "no paper" or "no driving" to me, on-par with "local food only", and harder than "conserve water". I struggle to think of how to avoid plastic in the grocery store - cling wrap is everywhere.

I don't think I can do any of these in May - we moved mid-March, and are still settling in. We only just managed to get the car out of my daily commute, and had to purchase another vehicle (electric scooter) to do it. There is so much we need to do before we are ready to take on any of these. Don't roll your eyes too much, I'm not just procrastinating - we have specific goals and to-do's written down. And I'm getting good ideas to add to our "to-do" list!

Please keep offering these kinds of monthly challenges! I'll check in during May to see what is planned for June. I would love to get to the point where we are organized enough and savvy enough about our local resources to participate in most of these at the drop of a hat.

NWGirl said...

I am new here and I am in! I do know there is a learning curve but I will do the best I can. The important part is to be aware and keep your eyes open to alternatives!
1) No Plastic: Really hard, will try to find alternatives.
2)No Paper Products: Already did away with paper towels. My 4 year old is still having potty issues and as long as I change him every time I can use cloth wipes. However hubby gets very irrate if there are no wet wipes. I will began trying TP and menstrual product alternatives.
3)Will cut driving by 80%. I don't drive much anyway, but can order groceries and give up trips to the store. I am making this a buy nothing month as well - which will actually be the hardest challenge of all.
4) Local Food: Easy. Farmers Markets are opening and we have an online grocer who does local.
5) No Garbage: By product of cutting down plastic and paper.
6) No Excessive Water Usage: Ok, I love my long showers. I will cut them by a couple of minutes and only shower every other day.
7) No Electricity. I am going to try this one. Once a week -- maybe on Fridays and see how it goes.

Thanks for the challenge - this will be interesting for me to see how dependant I really am!


Jenette said...

Ok ... I have gotten my husband to agree to #1 no plastic. He even came home yesterday with paper bags (I just need to pack his car with the canvas bags now.)Our CSA uses some plastic that I cant avoid. #2 no paper is not possible. TP is a must, my husband needs the news paper and his magazines. #3 no driving ... well we carpool but cant give up the car. #4 We are eating a lot of local food (we will try 1 week) #5 We have too much paper to compost it all and some of the glossy stuff. #6 We all take a bath in the same water 2 x a week (I will try to use it on the plants). I will be using fresh water on my veggies.
Does anyone have soap/shampoo I can use in the bath that wont kill my plants?
#7 sorry but nope. Severe movie/computer/night light addictions in my house.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to give this a try. I love the idea of switching it up week by week. Gives me a chance to try it all out! I can definitely avoid plastic, but paper...I need toilet paper. I'll give the no driving the old college try, but may not be able to fully make it (I'm going to try out the bus system - not very reliable here in Houston) Local food should be ok, and I hope I can generate no waste for a week! The excessive water challenge will be great b/c I might finally get to work on time :) And well, I did Earth Hour, so maybe this no electricity will work out ok!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Y'all are serious, committed folks. I am impressed and inspired.

And I'm still wrestling with whether I will join you. This is extreme - that's the point - and the challenge is exactly to do something that I think is impossible. On the other hand...I don't think I could do any of these things long-term, and my inclination is always to make permanent, sustainable changes. No yo-yo eco diets, as it were. :)

Will keep pondering and make a decision in the next week...

Chile said...

Emily, you voiced my own hesitation. Thanks.

Melissa said...

OK, I'll do the water reduction, and I'll try no driving for a week. If it goes well, maybe I'll try it for longer...

Debbie said...

I'm drawn to this challenge (as I am to most of these challenges) but I just don't think I can do any of them 100%. So while I may not be an official participant, these are my thoughts on what I can do.

1. No plastic - I can agree not to purchase things "encased" in plastic. I use cloth produce bags already, and avoid plastic generally, but can vow to do better. I'm not going to refuse to purchase my organic spinach just because the giant twist tie has a plastic label stuck to it, for example, though; I will do my best. Committed to all month, but not to an OCD degree.

2. No paper products - I'm not giving up TP (but I already use the paper-covered Seventh Generation rolls). (A confession, just this weekend I broke down and bought my first roll of paper towels in almost a year -- my dog was sick for several days and the cloths just weren't cutting it for cleanup purposes.) Anything that comes in unbidden (ie, junk mail) will be sent to recycling. Committed to all month except for TP.

3. No driving - Not gonna happen. I work second shift and there's no public transportation home. I've already committed to my own challenge to walk to and from work and do as much shopping on foot whenever the weather permits. Committed to my own version, all month.

4. Local food only - Probably not possible; possibly not ever. I'm vegan and I live in Iowa (where little vegan human food is produced) -- the farmer's market and my CSA will start some time in May but there isn't going to be enough there to live off of for at least a month. I've searched and can not find local producers of beans, especially (though did find a farmer with soybeans and some grains 80 miles away -- they ship in plastic, though). My coop bakes its own bread, but I can't guarantee all of the ingredients are local (and neither can they). Not committed.

5. No garbage output - Apartment dweller with no composting and no access to outdoor space to start. I've got other goals to work on before trying vermiculture -- by the time I'm ready perhaps we'll have community composting (but I'm not holding my breath). Not committed.

6. No excessive water usage - Eh. Probably not. I am conservative already, but not that much. There's plenty room for improvement though and I'll work on that. Not committed.

7. No electricity - No, not gonna happen either. I turn off lights unplug and use smart strips. I have CFLs in every fixture that will take them. This is going to have to do for now. Not committed.

Anonymous said...

I'm in for local foods only and water conservation. I will try a couple of the others for a day or week but can't commit for the whole month.

Hope you and FamilyCrunch are weathering the storm ok. Thinking about you.

Anonymous said...

For those of you looking to eliminate TP for #1 at home and abroad, see this article: Shows several products (one is non-plastic) to help gals pee standing up, and "wipe" via a gentle squeegee motion.

becky said...

I'm kind of confused how you're going to blog without electricity, crunchy chicken? Are you going just going to charge up your battery and try to make it last all month?

Stephanie said...

10 days later I finally decide to commit. I like the one week at a time approach and will start with water and work my way through the list.

Anonymous said...

I'm in! I won't be able to stick to the no driving thing, because we live in the boonies, and hey, husband has to get to work.

But everything else...I'll give it my all! We'll see how I do...

Anonymous said...

Oooo, now last month I signed up for all sorts of challenges and couldn't stick to them!

So this month I'm going to do the garbage output one and see if I can do it well instead of half heartedly trying them all and getting overwhelmed.

What an awesome choice of challenges. I think if I lived on my own I'd love to do the going without electricity for one day a week, but with a hubby and seven year old who don't always share my green views, I'd better take it easy!

Sign me up!

Mrs Green x

ruchi said...

Okay, I changed my mind. Forget everything I said before. This is what I'm going to do:

1. No plastic- for a week
4. Local Food- That's my own monthly challenge for May. I'm committing for sure to local produce, and we'll see what else I manage. I'll be doing that for the month.
5. No garbage- I'll try this for a week if I manage to get worms in May.
6. Water- for a week.
7. No electricity- for a day.

I'm not doing the no paper or no driving because I'm pretty happy with the balance I've struck in those areas.

Anonymous said...

I'm in:
1. No plastic. Extremely hard specially since plastic is hidden everywhere. But will try.
2. No paper. Will try to make cloth pads since there are no Diva Cups where I live. (And I've always wanted to join the Diva Cup Challenge)
3. No driving. Easy since I never had a car; public transport is easy where I live. But in lieu of, I pledge to walk whenever possible.
4. Local food only. Will try to avoid huge supermarkets with all those imported goods. It's a good thing there's a local farmer's market near where I live.
5. No garbage output. If I succeed with number 1, then this should be easier.
6. No excessive water usage. I've already practiced with 1 pail of water for a bath and 1 glass of water for brushing teeth.
7. Limited electricity. There was extreme violent reaction on this one from my brother. So I pledge to go Earth Hour whenever I'm alone in the house.

Anita said...

I live in the middle of nowhere... the nearest place to buy food is 30 miles away. No public transport.
We live in Greensburg Kansas, a town that is rebuilding green after a tornado destroyed 95% of it,(check us out HERE and HERE and we already do as much on this list as we can... we have great plans for our new home that we will be building this summer... alternate energy, building green, growing our own food, etc., and hopefully we'll have a grocery store here by then and can walk!

Savage Smith said...

This is really great. No worthwhile task is done with ease. I'll try my best but I'm not promising anything.

Laura said...

I'm in for no paper products and no excessive water and I will try my best for the others. I like the idea of adding one challenge a week so I'll probably do it that way. Thanks for putting this challenge forward and getting everyone thinking about what they can do without.

Rose of Sharon said...

I just stumbled across your blog and I love it!

I read the challenge, and thought what many Americans think about these things: "I can't do that NOW, because..."

I have excuses for everything on the list, and lots of them are incredibly valid, but still, if not now, when?! If not me, then who?!

My personal motto is, "badly, awkwardly, and without much grace." It's true that I'm not ready to accept the challenge, but I AM ready to start taking a real good look at my habits in all of these areas, work on reducing my consumption, and keep reading your blog to learn what other people are doing.

And hopefully accept the next challenge!

Sam said...

Count me out of the fridge part. I wasn't planning on my husband getting a job. So we have to store our once a week cooking somewhere so it doesn't get spoiled.

EcoBurban said...

OK - at first I thought I was too "green behind the ears" to get this eco-nutty, but I am thinking I can jump on board with the Eat Local part of the challenge. Blue Collar has posted a challenge to change eating habits to those less impactful (local, organic, fair trade) and I signed up for that one. However, while researching my options for that challenge, I started to find many ways to find local foods and home products that should satisfy every need. One caveat - I am going to use up whatever is in my fridge / freezer. Just 'cause it didn't start out as local, doesn't mean I should toss it out or let it go to waste. Anything new I buy will be local! I just wish Michigan had warmed up enough for some yummies to be found at the farmers market... So, count me in!!

Bonnie said...

Crunchy - what about no meat consumption? I am brand new to your blog and have joined the Buy Nothing Challenge (a month late!), but I don't really know your views on vegetarian vs. meat consumption.

I totally get that an omnivorous diet from purely local sources is probably WAY greener than a vegetarian diet made up of soy and other veggies/fruits that are shipped in from overseas. But why not the best of both worlds? Can you find local sources of non-animal protein?

Here is an interesting link:

If you are already tuned into this, please accept my newbie apologies!


Connie said...

I feel like the fat and 40 something woman that I am going hiking with a bunch of hard bodies.

I may have to start a class for wimps just starting out.

Anonymous said...

reduced water....2 showers each per week. 1 load dishwasher every 2 days. 2 loads washing per week. glass water for teeth cleaning.

electric... all lightbulbs changed. disposed of inefficient heaters and the tv...use pc for that. wter heated by solar except frost protection needs. turn off lights etc when out of room except hall light (youngest doesn't like going to sleep in the dark)

cloth wipes in toilet for no.1 but not no.2. made cloth wraps for lunchbox sandwiches. have always used hankies, dishcloths, handtowels anyhow.

no unnecessary transport used...wouldn't anyhow. school carpooling where possible.

local food...its almost winter, we had snow briefly. I do my best.

plastic just isn't's everywhere and there are no choices. We don't have bulk buys closer than 300kms away. Fruit and veg are mostly very local though and those I can get without.

viv in new zealand

Care said...

Gosh...I have no idea if I can do this or not. I didn't realize all the plastic and paper items we get until I read this challenge. The driving thing really is impossible where I am, but as for the rest of it, I want to give it a shot. If nothing else, maybe I can reduce how much trash comes into our home in the way of packaging. I'm on board.

Unknown said...

wow, you really do mean extreme. sorry, i can't. my husband is a class A 1 WASTER!!!! i just caught him running the shower while he was in the other room doing work on his computer. i'm like WTF!!!!!!! i turn the water off and he SURE NUFF complains to me --"hey i was going to take a shower" and i'm like yeah, you can turn it back on, but we can't afford to waste water like that. he just doesn't get it. true armchair liberal indeed. God forbid i take his precious computers away from him, he would FREAK!

Amanda said...

*sigh* Maybe I'm just completely lazy. Maybe I'm a rebellious fool. I feel like I failed the April challenge so I have no business entering this one, anyway. I think I should change my blog's name because I'm feeling seriously deficient in the "crunchy" realm.

Maybe I just have a TON to learn about the possibilities out there, but I seriously am having trouble imagining how any modern family could give up all those things for a month. How do you use cloth everything and not end up with extra water and electricity usage for laundry? How do you get food to last without plastic or refrigeration (or both)? How do you cook all your own food without ever using electricity?

I live in a seriously conservative, SUV-driving, Dubya-loving city of 400,000 where the nearest grocery store to my house doesn't allow bicycle parking out front and I haven't heard of a single installation of solar-anything on local homes.

Don't add me to your list, I'll just feel guilty about getting a free link to my not-really-crunchy blog. But I'll keep reading to see how people are actually making this work.

Anonymous said...

I've gone nuts and turned off the fridge/freezer. I still have the one freezer on....we need that for our farm meat (grown by my sister and brother in law).

i looked in the fridge and thought nearly everything in it just needs to be cool not frigid. It makes a good cupboard.

viv in nz

Anonymous said...

I've actually done most everything on here with the exception of no driving and no electricity--both are needed in my line of work (I'm a radio news anchor and reporter in a city about 30 miles from my home.)

Anonymous said...

I know it is late to join in the fun but, better late than never. I am in for no plastic, no paper, local food (that is available right now), no garbage output, and no excessive water usage. I am new here and just learning about green and simple living.

Anonymous said...

Hi Crunchy!
It's June 1st, so I thought I would update.

1. No plastic- I posted in my own blog that I did purchase a tub of vegan ice cream for my kiddos after dd convinced me we needed the plastic bucket for berry picking. Other than that, our plastic consumption was very, very little. I did have a cashier give me a plastic bag after I asked for him not to. I also (intentionally) purchased freezer bags to freeze local berries in for winter use.

2. No paper products- no problem! Our recycling has been cut in 1/4 this month, I'm not sure precisely why but it could be that I've made a very concerted effort not to buy any materials with packing- and just not to buy at all. I also reused anything imaginable. At one point I had a book to ship out and used my daughter's old drawings as packing materials.

3. No driving- well, I said this would be my downfall and truly it is. However, I've only once driven by myself somewhere, other times all trips were combined. Additionally, I've gone about 18 miles on bike and 5 miles on foot this month (I have a pending ankle surgery, so don't tell the doctor about my walking stint). We also carpooled with another family one day. None of the driving was for fun, only school, doctor's appointments and a few grocery trips.

4. Local food only- for the most part this has been a no-brainer. Local eating is very easy this time of year. Not only do we have a large garden, but two local farmer's markets to go to (we biked to the nearby market). Local eggs, produce and berries plus local meats (bison, deer and beef) for the two non-veg family members. There were a few non-local holdups due to dairy allergies. We worked on lessening the amount we consumed of those items.

5. No garbage output- two "Walmart-size" trash bags this month, a majority of it from aseptic containers of almond and hemp milk that we had on hand. We're back to making our own non-dairy milks. We reduced our trash by more than half.

6. No excessive water use- we normally do this anyhow. This month the kids began "stomping" the non-delicate laundry, mostly linens. The washtub is filled with ~2 gallons of water and they proceed to stomp the dirt out. We did this last summer with good results.

7. No electricity- We certainly used electricity, but much less than usual. The freezer was turned off until we received meat from the hubby's aunt and it was followed by local berries put up for winter. The fridge is on but we've been looking into smaller fridges since we don't utilize even a tiny portion of the fridge that came with the rental. PC use has been limited, daylighting has been used, we've gone to be earlier and each day all but the fridge and freezer are unplugged. Not that we have much to plug in (~6-7 kWh a month is fairly small). I am actually looking forward to this month's energy bill so I can see how well we did.

In addition, we have a gas stove and water heater. The water heater is turned off between showers (i.e. we each take our shower one morning, water heater goes off until the next round of showers, usually every-other-day). We've also been baking in batches rather than in spurts throughout a day or week.

Thank you for the great challenge. I will continue to challenge myself to see how I can improve my resource usage.