Over 2010 we have been following the environmental challenges of Lizz Roe, a local Quaker and Faith and Climate Change steering group member. Here we have some excerpts from her blog demonstrating some of the monthly challenges she has set herself. It shows what any normal person can do with a bit of motivation! We hope you enjoy it and keep coming back for more of her highs and lows. The full blog posts can be found at www.faithandclimatechange.org. Over to Lizz……

Monthly Challenges
A few years ago I was part of a group where each month we set ourselves a challenge and would try and change our habits over the next 30 days or so. We’d then meet again, review progress, have a good laugh and set ourselves a new challenge (whilst sometimes keeping the old challenge going too!).  Some of the group made big changes to their lives over that year and some just some little ones. It did really help knowing that others were up for it too!

Friends of the Earth
I had an interesting conversation with someone from FOE which prompted me to remember the oomph I’d felt when doing this and other similar challenges, so that’s what I propose to do this year – each month I’ll take on a suggested environmental challenge and then let you know how I get on!

For Starters – Who I am…..
Here’s some starter info just so no-one asks the impossible (or illegal). I live in Birmingham, I don’t have a car, I’m a veggie/vegan, I work full time, I don’t have a mobile phone or the internet at home, I once gave up spending for a year (I paid my bills and public transport fares), I gave up flying for 9 years and then succumbed to a free trip to the US, I don’t smoke, I like knitting, I have a bicycle and trailer, I live in a very small flat on my own, I visit my elderly dad who lives near Watford three times a month, I sometimes travel for work, I’m a Quaker, I like films, and I like books. I also like a good challenge!

January (Challenge – Sort out the flat/lifestyle)
‘…As soon as I got back I planed the front door and then all the internal doors which stick – for the first time ever I have doors that close throughout the flat! How successful do I feel?! Next I made a hot water bottle and snuggled into a duvet. Whilst doing this I sorted through my fabric bag – I felt sure that I’d have something suitable for a curtain. And yes I did – a lovely large bit of a sort of sea green corduroy.  I also found part of an old sheet and, even better, some curtain tape! Sorted. For the other large window I found some more sheeting. I’ll have to keep an eye out for some blankets to use for lining between the current curtains and the sheeting. It won’t matter what colour or condition because it won’t be visible…’

February (Challenge – Buy Nothing)
‘…I once lived for 6 months on food from supermarket/coffee shop dumpsters and as well as following the very careful, even scrupulous, etiquette – don’t ever leave a mess, if there are others at the same dumpster don’t snaffle everything – I was well fed and saved a fair amount of stuff from going to landfill.

If you’re having an eew moment, think about it – all it involved was opening a bag and removing some unopened and often in-date food – tins, packets, bakery goods, bottles and sometimes still frozen boxes of stuff.  The only difference was that it was a larger bag and it was black (a bin bag in other words) and it came from a dumpster rather than the shelves.  Oh, and it was free. I was never ill and as I don’t eat meat that wasn’t an issue. The people I met doing dumpster diving were an interesting mixture too…. ‘

April (Challenge – Live on £1 per day)
‘…So, why does it seem harder – is it cumulative? It’s month 4, is that what it is? Maybe it is just that it reminds me of the period in my life which was really very stressful. Maybe it’s a reminder that money just is one of the topics that people shy away from. Thousands of people are in debt in the UK, and that doesn’t include mortgages and car repayments. Numerous people have strategies for how to get to grips with this – Alvin Hall on the TV is one of the best known people in the UK. In the US Joe Dominguez and Vicki Ruben’s project, also called ‘Your Money or Your Life’ like Alvin’s, has helped thousands of people get debt free. I’ve had months when I’ve emptied the piggy bank too. This is crazy. What is it with £££? What helps not spend?’

recycle logoJune (Challenge – Do something free at least twice a week)
‘…I went to the free exhibition at the British Library in London which is all about maps, and to the V&A to visit the quilt exhibition (with a ticket from a friend of mine – thank you). Maps and quilts – free museums and exhibitions – they’re just the best. Have you seen the Saxon gold in the Birmingham museum?  It’s pretty amazing. As well as these two joys I’ve been at a committee meeting one evening this week, been to a party one evening, and spent time on the allotment every other evening. I also managed to spend an extra day at my dads being ill!  I know when I’m ill because even the thought of reading a book or sitting in the garden is too tiring and I’m not able to even hold a book up or make a cup of tea.’

July (Challenge – Do something constructive in the local community each week, something nationally oriented each week, something positive politically each week, and tithe my time and money!)
‘…I’ve been thinking about this – I care about a lot of things – homelessness, kids getting access to outdoors education, good nutrition and people knowing how to cook, disability integration, support for isolated older people, climate change, non violent conflict transformation, advocacy for those without power, poverty wherever it is, slavery, I could go on. Where do I start? I could split the £200 into lots of different bits or could do it in 4 dollops of £50. This is silly – I never thought that giving money away was that hard!’

We hope you have enjoyed this sneak peek into Lizz’s very interesting, funny and thought- provoking blog. To see the full posts and future posts, please visit www.faithandclimatechange.org

It may just give you that bit of inspiration you need!