This Green Life Challenge


"You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you.  What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make."     --Jane Goodall

 

 

 Day Twenty-One:

Life Your Life to the Fullest

You've made it to day 21!  We are so proud of you!  Thank you for sticking with us, we hope you've learned more about eco-friendly living.  We know it is a lot but change a little at a time and with time you be able to craft a lifestyle that you love.

Since it's Sunday, and the end of this challenge we wanted to live you with a little inspiration to live your life to the fullest!  
 
Click to view video!
The 5 Second Rule/Mel Robbins
Check in with us and let us know how your eco-friendly journey is going and if you have any questions or tips you want to share!

Day Twenty:

Final Tips for a Zero-Was Lifestyle

Happy Saturday!  We've made it to day 20!  Thanks for hanging in there with us!  We have really enjoyed this challenge and sending you, we hope so great tips to help you start or continue your green living challenge!  We hope you've learned, we certainly have!

We don't want to keep you today, so we are sharing a video on Going Green: Tips for a Zero-Waste Lifestyle by Haley Higdon!  We hope you enjoy!
Click to Watch Video!
Click to Watch Video

Day Nineteen:

A Look at Sustainable Fashion

We interviewed Dominique Drakeford from Dom's Conscious Closet and Melanin & Sustainable Style.  She is changing the narrative on sustainable fashion and shedding light on some sustainable fashion brands from people of color.  We learned so much from her and are grateful for the work she is doing in the sustainable community and movement.

When and why did you get involved or started your sustainable fashion journey.

I’ve been involved in sustainable fashion for quite some time now – it’s been about 10 years. In high school I was always fascinated with the environment. In fact the only AP class I was interested in taking was Environmental Science – which I did. During my undergrad years is when I started to explore the intersection between the environment and fashion. Loving both worlds, I started to further understand the unethical and nasty social, cultural, economical and environmental detriments that the industry was built on.

Why is it important to share sustainable fashion from a "melanin" perspective?  (you're basically changing the narrative)

People of color/ indigenous communities (black folks included) are and have always been the trend setters in fashion period. With regards to sustainable fashion – we are the makers, the dyers, the embroiderers. Most of the cultural elements that are built into ethical sustainable fashion brands are from indigenous communities. Yet, often times as the silent trailblazers and the nucleus of inspiration and quality craftsmanship, we are left out of the conversation or simply appropriated.

Tell us about Dom's Conscious Closet and Melanin & Sustainable Style and what it is and why you started each of these websites.

MelaninASS was created to show that there are in fact brands started by POC who focus on sustainability, ethics and wellness. The almost cult like sustainable fashion, beauty and lifestyle community at a general glace would have you think otherwise. So it was initially started to highlight amazing folks in this space. My Conscious Closet is simply me. I’ve been in this space in some capacity for about 10 years so there’s nothing trendy about me wearing conscious fashion. It has been long overdue that I share my style and show visually that WOC can participate while also dismantling the “norm” of styles in this space.

Can you tell us about Fast Fashion and it's affects on people of color, including production, ethics, fair trade, impact on the environment and social responsibility.

Sustainability has the word “sustain” in it- so automatically the root focuses on strengthening and supporting – so to help support the authenticity, longevity and quality of not only nature but humanity and the intersection of cultures. So sustainable fashion is creating articles of clothing that does just that –conserves the environment and preserves our welfare. With fashion having such a huge economic and vocal role – sustainable fashion can in many ways become political, and sustainable fashion allows you to create your personal style that now has an important narrative with substance and value.

There are so many ways to participate in this sustainable fashion movement and for me, the beauty of connecting with an electric array of brands is that every single one is vastly different. One of the main ways to look at sustainability is production. So one way to be sustainable is by using organic fibers such organic cotton, peace silk, bamboo, etc. These are examples of great alternatives to conventional cotton, which uses dangerous amounts of pesticides and chemicals (literally killing workers) and is unfortunately water intensive. Many brands are getting extremely creative with eco fibers being used. Susana Colina is an amazing designer who uses natural fibers in her luxury designs. Another way to be sustainable is by repurposing or upcycling – The Sway takes leather scraps and recreates these chic leather biker jackets and hand bags. Another example is Born Again Vintage who takes vintage clothing and recreates them into couture pieces. Another example is by using low impact dyes – so natural dyes like indigo which is a staple for the brand Studio 189.  I was able to work with this brand in Ghana- watching communities of men take indigo plant and organically create this beautiful blue hue. Another way to be responsible is by minimizing waste that goes into the landfills – several brands commit to the philosophy of “Zero Waste” such as Daniel Silverstein and TabiI Just. These are just a few examples from a material lens. However, within the scope of production – who is making your clothes is equally as important. After the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh where a fast fashion garment factory collapsed killing over 1000 workers – ‘who makes our clothes and how’ is more important than ever. So this is called Fair Trade. Amazing brands like VOZ literally work side by side with Chilean artisans creating an equitable partnership with skilled craftsman. Instead of exploiting workers in rural areas – many sustainable brands are building authentic relationships where culture and community is respected. Workers are in safe environments, following safety laws and they get proper wages for the quality work they do.  The shoe brand, Brother Vellies, does an amazing job of being very transparent with their sustainability efforts using animal by product leathers, working with farmers, and using low impact dyes.  Most of the product is hand made working with artisans across Africa. At the end of the day sustainable fashion is luxury fashion! It’s created slower, with attention to detail and is made with love and culture. Every brand focuses on different elements of consciousness making for an eclectic cohort of luxury sustainable fashion.

What changes can people of color make in regards to sustainable fashion and conscious consumerism?

Watch the movie True Cost on Netflix to have a more clear understanding of the social and environmental issues occurring in the fashion industry. Here is a link to some Tips from my blog:
https://melaninass.com/blog/2017/6/27/tips-on- how-to- shop-sustainably- in-your- hood

How has this journey helped in other areas of your green living journey?  i.e. minimalism, zero/minimal waste, green beauty, etc?

Most people start with food or beauty when starting their green living journey. Oddly enough I started with Fashion – a system that’s so much more complex and intricate to understand so it made all other areas of my life very easy to transition.

Any books, videos or other resources that you'd like to share?

My first recommendation is watch The True Cost on Netflix.
Click to View Video
Click to View Video

Day Eighteen:

A Look at Fast Fashion

What is fast fashion and why should you know about it?  Fast Fashion is a contemporary term used by fashion retailers to express that designs move from catwalk quickly to capture current fashion trends. Fast fashion clothing collections are based on the most recent fashion trends presented at Fashion Week in both the spring and the autumn of every year.  Some of our Country's biggest retailers have their clothes manufactured oversees in poor countries and sweat shops.  Sweat shop label can be done by children, woman and men at very low wages and in very poor conditions, all in order to provide the US and European market with clothes in popular chain stores such as H & M, Forever 21, Zara, Top Shop, Old Navy and many, many more stores.

There is a great documentary on Netflix entitled The True Cost.  If you have Netflix and get the opportunity to watch it, please do because it is very eye opening.  Below we a video from Real Stories called Fashion Factories Undercover.  

Tomorrow will will take a look a growing movement in fashion--Sustainable Fashion and we will share a great interview with a thought leader changing the narrative of Sustainable & Conscious Fashion.
Click to View Video

Day Seventeen:

The 5 Principles of Zero Waste

We've been spending a lot of time rethinking the way we live our life and whether it aligns with our goal to make our world a better place.  This challenge has been super inspiring to us and we've learned a heck of a lot about "This Green Life!"  Today we take a closer look at the principles of zero waste with a video from Bea Johnson.  
Click to Watch Video

Day Sixteen:

Day One: Zero Waste Challenge

Last Week, I went through my own zero waste/minimal waste challenge to see how it would be and what I can pass on to you.  Let's just say it was definitely a challenge.  I realized some much during this challenge and the one thing that stands out the most is I THROW AWAY A LOT OF TRASH!  I could have never imagined the amount of trash I throw away on a daily basis let alone a week.  But, boy did I get an education.

I'm going to list some things I learned in the email (I had video recorded my 5 day challenge, but as fate would have it, my camera cord is no where to be found, and I therefore cannot download any of those videos. (insert sad face :()). 

Here are my 5 honest to goodness tips to help you reduce your trash.

1. First, Observe.  Take one day and observe what you are throwing away.  I got a separate trash bag for myself (walmart or other shopping bag from another store) so that I could determine my own trash output versus the whole household (because I can only govern myself).  This separation helped me recognize that I use and throw a lot of paper towels away and that I throw food waste and water bottles away equally.  I realized my household as a whole throws a lot of trash away.  We threw 2 large plastic trash bags away this day.

2. Second Day, I set a goal for myself which was to use only a hand towel for drying my hands and a kitchen towel for the kitchen.  The second day I used 2 paper towels!  We threw away only one trash bag away and I am encouraging everyone to fill the bag up as much as we can before it goes out to the dumpster.

3. On day three, I was able to purchase some reusable items such as a bamboo tooth brush, reusable bamboo cutlery, and a metal straw.  I really thought I was winning with these purchases especially the reusable cutlery and metal straw but I forgot them and eat out twice during the 5 day challenge and didn't take them either time.  I didn't use any paper towels on this day.

4. On day four, I continued with the no paper towels goal and didn't use any paper towel this day.  I went grocery shopping and took my reusable grocery bags but not my produce bags.  Don't know where my mind was forgetting those but we'll keep going.

5. Day Five was kind of a hit and miss for me.  I'd go to a store and forget my reusable grocery bags when I spontaneously stopped for something quick.  I went to the grocery store for actual grocery shopping and brought my reusable grocery bags but no produce bags so this time we simply did not put any of our produce in those plastic produce bags.  I was shopping with my spouse and thought it would be weird for them, but it wasn't.  

Somethings I've got to work on:

1. Faucet filtration system for our sink because I use a lot of water bottles and we buy tons of them in one month.  Once I get that then I'll have to find a container to keep my water in.

2. I think, in the beginning this way of life, you have to be very conscious of what you're doing.  It also takes some planning.  Keep your grocery bags in the car isn't enough because I had mine in my car and I still forgot, so it's all about be consciously focused on what you're doing. 

3. Set goals for yourself.  This way you can start being more aware and forming habits.

4. Take it easy and do a bit at a time so that you don't get overwhelmed.  It's a lot of things that need to be done so take your time and be consistent at what you can first then build from there!

We hope you'll consider reducing the amount of trash that you output!

Day Fifteen:

Teaching Your Kids about the Environment

Kids are amazing humans and they teach us so much on a daily basis!  What we teach them about the environment at a young age can impact their future.  In today's email we are going to share ways to teach your kids about the environment!  Click the video below and watch with your kids!
Science Video for Kids: How to Care for the Environment
Click to View Video

Day Fourteen:

Self Care as a Tool of Liberation.

Caring for myself is not Self-Indulgence, it is Self Preservation, and that is an Act of Political Warfare.
--Audre Lorde
Malebo Sephodi gave an amazing TedTalk in March of 2017.  We thought we share it with you on this Sunday.  We believe Self-Care is an important and necessary tool of liberation.  Self Care helps to recharge and uplift.  Woman have notoriously worn many, many different hats and are the primary caregivers of many people in their life.  It is important to take care of yourself first so that you can be there for others and it is important to take care of yourself so that you can live a long, healthy life!  We want to have longevity and wellness in our older years and part of that is taking care of yourself!

Happy Sunday and Enjoy this TedTalk!
Click to View Video

Day Thirteen:

Can We Live Without Plastic?

Happy Saturday!  

Yes! You've made it!  We are on Day 13 of "This Green Life" Challenge!  We are so proud of you!  We'd love to hear from you so drop us a line and let us know how you're liking the challenge so far!

Today we have a short video for you.  This video shows a family on their plastic-free journey. Remember it's not how quick you run the race but that you run it! Keep going, growing and learning!
Click to Watch Video

Day Twelve:

10 Steps to Take Towards Living a Plastic-Free Life

Getting started with a new habit is sometimes the hardest to do.  To help you get started towards living with less plastic, here are 10 Steps you can take.  
1. Use Reusable Bags when you go shopping
This is one of the easiest things you can do but also the one you have to put thought into.  Keep your reusable bags by the door or in your car to help you remember!
2. Identify which product you buy the most that contain plastic.
Look into plastic-free option.  Shop at your local Farmers Market or Community Garden.

3. Decide why you're making the change to a plastic-free life.  
This will make it feel more real to you.  Write it down and place it somewhere you will see if often to act as a reminder.
4. Start using a reusable coffee cup or water bottle.
Instead of using single-use coffee cups from the coffee machine in the office or shop, start using a reusable coffee cup.  Same with the reusable water bottle. Instead of buying and using disposable water bottles, install a water purifier and use your reusable water bottle.  Make sure to use stainless steel or glass.
5. Cut out frozen meals
Many frozen meals come in container that have plastic in them.  This will drastically reduce your plastic consumption.
6. Buy Bulk.  Purchase reusable product bags and fill them up with your bulk items.
7.  Shop your Local Farmer's Market
You can get lots of produce and locally made goods including baked items that come without plastic packaging.
8.  Make as many of your own cleaning, skincare and body care products as you can.  This immediately eliminates all plastic packaging.  Store your newly made products in glass.
9.  Shop Package Free as much as possible.  Package Free shops are popping in many cities, online and at Farmers Markets.  
10. Join a community of like-minded people
Find a local or online community of other people living plastic-free lifestyles.  This will provide you with support and education.

Click to Watch Video

Day Eleven:

Make Your Own Natural Deodorant

Making your own Natural Deodorant is one the easiest and inexpensive products you can make today and you can purchase most if not all of the ingredients needed at your grocery or natural health food store.  You'll make enough to last for a very long and you'll be able to switch from using those store bought deodorants that contain no so great ingredients!
Here is what you Need:

Ingredients:
8 oz Baking Soda
4 oz Arrowroot Powder
3 oz Organic Shea Butter
2 oz Organic Coconut Oil
.5 oz Carrier Oil of Choice (Jojoba, Grapeseed, Sunflower Oil, Sweet Almond Oil or Apricot Kernel)
.5 oz Beeswax or Candelilla Wax if Vegan
3.5 ml Essential Oil of Choice
We used 2 ml Lavender and 1.5 ml Tea Tree Oil
1 ml Vitamin E Oil

Equipment:
Kitchen Scale
Large Mixing Bowl
Spoons
Pipette
Glass Container for Storage

Directions:

Weigh out the organic shea butter and place into a double boiler or glass container. Measure out .5 oz Beeswax or Candelilla Wax and add to the Shea Butter. Heat in double boiler or microwave until melted.

Next, weigh out the coconut oil and carrier oil and stir into the the melted butters and wax.

After that you can go ahead and add the dry ingredients by weighing out the baking soda and arrowroot powder and stirring into the liquified mixture. Mix well.

Using a pipette, you will measure out the essential oil (s) of choice and vitamin E, using a different pipette for each oil, and then stir into the liquid deodorant mixture and mix well.

You can absolutely adjust this recipe to have less.  Switch ingredients.  If you become irritated under arms because of the baking soda switch to magnesium hydroxide powder.  Add Neem Oil or different clays such as Kaolin Clay, Green Clay or a little bit of Activated Charcoal.  The sky is really the limit when making your own natural deodorant and you'll be able to tweak your recipe to make it your own!

Thank you for sticking with us and we hope you'll be here tomorrow! If you end up making this for yourself, be sure to drop us a line and let us know how it's working for you! 

Day Ten:

7 DIY Household Cleaners

One way to live a more sustainable life is to make your own!  And we don't know about you, but we love making our own natural, non-toxic household cleaners!  We've complied 7 easy Do-it-Yourself cleaners that you can use on a daily or weekly basis.  We hope you'll make a few or all and let us know how you like making them!

1. All-Purpose Cleaner
    Pour 1/4 Cup of Castile Soap into 1 Quart (32 oz) of purified or distilled water.  Optional: Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.  Mix well and pour into spray bottle.  Use microfiber cloth or any cloth to clean your surfaces!
2. Fruit and Veggie Wash
    Add 1/4 teaspoon Castile Soap to a bowl of warm water.  Add your fruit to the bowl and clean your veggies as normal.
3.  Reusable Kitchen Wipes
These are a favorite around our house and a great way to safely disinfect your kitchen surfaces!
    Take an old t-shirt and cut into rag size cloths.  In a 1-Quart Jar, pour 1 cup of warm water.  Add 1 Tablespoon Castile Soap.  Add about 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil to the jar such as tea tree, peppermint, or lavender.  Place the cut up rags into the jar with the liquid. Shake up the jar enough so that all the rags are soaked.  Use rags as needed.  Once rags are all used, wash and repeat the process.
DIY Kitchen Wipes
4. Mild Body Wash
    Take 6 Tablespoons or 3 oz Castile Soap and add it to 16 oz purified or distilled water.  Add 9-18 drops of essential oil.
5.  Soft Scrub Cleaner
     1. Take 3/4 cup baking soda and place into a mixing bowl
     2. Add 1/4 cup Castile Soap to the baking soda
     3. Add 1 Tablespoon of Water and mix well
     4. Add 10-15 drops of tea tree oil
6.  Makeup Remover
     1. Take 1 Cup Distilled Water and place into a mixing bowl
     2. Add 1 1/2 Tablespoon Castile Soap to the water
     3. In a bowl, microwave 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil, (preferably organic) for 30 second bursts until completely melted.  Do not over heat.  Add this coconut oil to your Castile and water mixture.
     4. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil
     5. Mix all of the ingredients well and store in a container with a tight lid
7.  Glass Cleaner
     1.  Add 2 cups of distilled water to your bowl.
     2. Add 1/4 cup castile soap to the bowl
     3. Add 15 drops of your favorite Essential Oil
Makes 16 oz

Stay tuned for tomorrow, where we'll teach you how to make your own natural, non-toxic deodorant!

Day Nine:

The Path towards Sustainable Living

Macro versus Micro Sustainablility 

Sustainability is such a hot topic with many different answers.  What is sustainability and how do we live a sustainable life?  Well, there is macro sustainability which means sustainability for the world as a whole and micro sustainability which means individual, local and community sustainability. 

What is Sustainability?

What are the Primary Goals of Sustainability?

The Sustainable Development Professional (SDP) network eventually came up with a list of 17 items (6) which included amongst other things:

  • The end of poverty and hunger
  • Better standards of education and healthcare - particularly as it pertains to water quality and better sanitation
  • To achieve gender equality
  • Sustainable economic growth while promoting jobs and stronger economies
  • All of the above and more while tackling the effects of climate change, pollution and other environmental factors that can harm and do harm people's health, livelihoods and lives.
  • Sustainability to include health of the land, air and sea
What Micro-Sustainability Looks Like: Urban Farming
Ron Finley Talks Urban Gardening
On Day 10, we will take a look at Micro-Sustainability a little more and discover some individual steps toward sustainability.  

Day Eight:

This is What Sustainability Looks Like

To Change the Community, you have to change the composition of the soil.  We are the Soil.

                                                                 Ron Finley
The word sustainability means: the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.  In this week's challenge, we want to approach the topic of sustainability  and answer the following questions:

1. What does sustainability mean?
2. Can we live sustainable in modern society
3. What steps do we take towards sustainability?

I first became aware of the word sustainability in 2012 when I started my eco-friendly journey.  That word at the time meant for me, to be able to maintain myself and family fully for everything we need in our daily lives.  The concept of getting back to basics.  Back to a time of true sustainability.  But what does that mean to modern day people living in the city or suburbs? It really means the same thing but is translated differently per person or family.  You may not live in a house that  has a yard and cannot have a garden to grow your own fruit and vegetables but can you container garden some things or visit your local community garden or farmer's market?  Are you crafty and able to learn how to make some of your own skin care products?  The sky is the limit for the level of individual sustainability.  This coming week we get into some fun DIY projects, talk about minimalism and broach the topic of zero waste.  We have some great things planned for the rest of the challenge, so we hope you stick around!  In the mean time, watch this short video about guerrilla gardener from South Central LA about how he has changed his community!
Ron Finley talks about changing his community through gardening
Copyright © 2018 PUR Home, All r

Day Seven: 

A Look at Palm Oil

To Americans, the rainforests may be many miles away and therefore out of sight and out of mind. Yet, rainforests are essential to our very existence!  You can walk down any aisle in the grocery store and find products made from palm oil. Palm Oil is used for so many of our processed foods including cookies, crackers, peanut butter, vegetable oils, and even a lot of our skincare products such as soap!  There are only 60, 600 Orangutans left in the world.  And the global demand for palm oil which is the most used vegetable oil on Earth can be found in over half of all packaged good in an average grocery store--in everything from lotions, lipstick, granola bars, nut butters and used in biodiesel fuel.  With so much Palm Oil being used, the production of it is harming communities and rainforest all over the world.
Click to Watch the Video
To product Palm Oil, companies have burned and cleared incredible amounts of rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia.  And violation of the rights of local communities whose livelihoods and lands have been stolen and lands developed for industrial scale palm oil plantations. 
A Closer Look at Palm Oil
Indonesia's Palm Oil Industry
How to Avoid Conflict Palm Oil
Palm Oil is almost undeniably in a lot of the products we purchase.  It is in the majority of snacks that we eat and makeup and skincare that we use on a daily basis.  
Here are some tips that we find are useful to avoid purchasing palm oil based products:

1. Bake your own snacks
2. Look for makeup that is palm oil free
3. Read your product labels and seek alternatives
4. Research this topic further and make an informed decision and action plan you feel comfortable with
5. Take it a bit at a time and reduce your use!

Day Six:

Soil is vital to life.

Happy Weekend!  We've made it to day 6 of our "This Green Life" Challenge! We hope you've learned some valuable information so far.  We wanted to spend this first week with education on the issues!  Today's written content will be shorter but we wanted to talk about the value of soil and how and why it is important to earth's vitality!  Of course, we know good soil grows our food, feeds our animals, grows our plants and so much more.  Sustainable land practices are key to future sustainability!

Here are two great videos on soil!
The Value of Soil
Salt of the Earth

Day Five:

The Air We Breath: A Look at Air Quality and Pollution

I grew up in Riverside County, California which is about 45 mins to an 1 hour away from Los Angeles.  Whenever we'd drive into LA, we'd always make jokes about how bad the smog was in Los Angeles.  Unfortunately, nothing has changed and there is still a lot of smog in LA.  Air quality and pollution are unfortunate problems in many U.S. Cities today.  Of the 10 most polluted cities in the U.S., California unfortunately has 6 out of 10 with LA coming in at number 5.  Other states with high pollution levels are New York/Newark/New Jersey, Las Vegas, Denver/Aurora Colorado, El Paso, Texas/Las Cruces, New Mexico and so many more.  Needless to say Air quality and Ozone Pollution are a concerning issue in our country.

For the last 18 years The American Lung Association has released it's annual "State of the Air" report.  In it's 2017 report, it showed that "even with continued improvement, too many people in the United States live where the air is unhealthy for them to breathe."
Top Cities for Pollution
It is well known about China's air quality and pollution problem.  It is so bad that a company in Canada sells Chinese air in cans.  
Click to watch Mark Turrell's Ted Talk "The Air We Breath."
China's Toxic Smog
We thought China had bad air quality and pollution but New Delhi, India hit it's peak last November.  Their pollution is so bad that the levels of carcinogenic PM 2.5 particles in the air were 70 times over the safe limit as prescribed by the World Health Organization.  New Delhi's pollution problem comes from a spike in crop burning in the surrounding states, construction, vehicles in the city and a lack of wind to blow dust away.
New Delhi's Pollution Problem
The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services list steps we can take to reduce our contribution to air pollution.  We've picked out the top 6:

1. Conserve energy: turn off lights, computers, and electric appliances when not in use.
2. Use energy efficient light bulbs and appliances
3. Limit driving by carpooling, use public transportation, ride a bike to work or school or walk
4. Combine errands for fewer trips
5. Keep your car well tuned and maintained. Avoid idling of your automobile
6. Run your dishwasher and clothes washer only when you have a full load

Day Four:

Water is A Human Right

Water is taught by thirst.
                                                                                                       --Emily Dickinson 

You may have heard of the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis a few years back. This crisis has not been completely resolved and residents are still living with toxic, lead based water.   Yet, not only does Flint, Michigan, there are six other U.S. Cities with lead in their water.  Approximately 18 million people live in communities where their water is tainted with lead.  These cities include Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (which has the worst water testing in the United States), Chicago, Illinois (as of February 2016, a report revealed that nearly 80% of the properties in Chicago are hooked up to service lines made of lead.), Milwaukee, Wisconsin ( an estimated 176, 000 lead pipes providing drinking water to homes and businesses were at risk.), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (tap water tests done at 149 city residences with known lead service lines, calculated lead at 18 parts per billion--80,000 people get their water through those lead service lines.), Baltimore, Maryland (nearly 4% of the samples in Baltimore water quality analysis contained elevated lead levels.), Boston, Massachusetts (last November, it was reported that water tests conducted at roughly 300 public school buildings in Massachusetts showed that more than half had at least on sample with lead levels above regulatory limits.), and Trenton, New Jersey (21 school districts have elevated levels of lead in drinking water.)
 
Click on the picture to view video
Not only does the United States have water contaminate issues but the United States has a water scarcity problem as well.  I remember a few years ago 2014/2015, California had mandatory lawn water days and there were town hall meetings about the so called water crisis going on within the State of California.  It is estimated that Lake Mead in Nevada will be dry by the year 2021.  Lake Mead currently supplies water to 22 million people.
Water scarcity within the U.S. is not just an environmental problem.  It is an everyday, man-made problem due to our current daily demand for water.  We have wasteful toilets, non-insulated pipes and generous shower heads that are the culprits to the water crisis.
 
Fresh Water Scarcity
Click photo to watch Deepika Kurup's Ted Talk
Click photo to watch Fahad Al-Attiya's Ted Talk
The truth in numbers:

It takes 39,090 gallons of water to build a new care

It takes 441 gallons of water to raise, water, feed and process 1 pound of boneless beef

It takes 20-6- gallons of water to power a single 100-watt light bulb for 10 hours

It takes 37 gallons of water to make one cup of coffee
The daily drinking requirement per person is 1/2 - 1 gallon of water per day

It takes 528 - 1321 gallons of water to produce one person's daily food intake

Water covers 70% of our planet, but only 3.5% is fresh water.  70% of fresh water is frozen in inaccessible in ice caps and glaciers.

2 % of freshwater is available for human use.
Cup of Joe
Here are 10 tips to help save water:

1. Turn off the faucet when not using it such as brushing teeth, cleaning, (you can save up to 60 liters of water per week). 
2. Reduce your shower time
3. Designate a laundry day and wash all of your clothes on that day only
4. Get a low flush toilet 
5. Fix any leaks on any of your faucets
6. Eat less meat
7. Reduce food waste
8. Water lawn or garden on designated days
9. Run the dishwasher instead of washing by hand (fill up the dishwasher and wash all at once!)
10. Catch rain water and reuse to water the lawn or garden

Action Items:
1. What are some ways you can reduce water consumption?

Day Three:

Ecological Footprint & Earth Overshoot Day

An ecological footprint is determined by the amount of resources we use, whether it is used directly or indirectly.  Sometimes our footprint is obvious, such as the amount of water we use while taking a shower or the amount of trash we throw out.  However, sometimes our ecological footprint is hidden.  Think about the precious mineral minerals that are mined for the touchscreen on your smartphone.

Each of us an ecological footprint and a carbon footprint that represents the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted as a result of our daily actions.  Driving cars, heating and cooling our homes, turning lights and TVs on, all contribute to our carbon footprint.  Why does using all of these resources matter?  Carbon dioxide is a top contributor to climate change.  

Ecological Footprint
How big is our impact on the environment? 
Our ecological footprint reached biocapacity in the 1970s.  Humans have reached an ecological threshold more than forty years ago.  Earth Overshoot Day has steadily come earlier on our calendars each year.

According to www.overshoot.org, Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity's demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.  We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Earth Overshoot Day
Okay, Okay so what in the heck does that mean?
So how do we help solve this global issue?  By taking steps to decrease your footprint, we can make a positive contribution to the environment and the world.  There are so many ways we can reduce our impact on the planet.  Some of those ways are changing the way we buy, eat and travel are just a start.
How big your carbon footprints? Ted Talk by Julius Jenkins 

The Carbon Footprint of Consumption Ted Talk by Diana Ivanova 

Ted Talk: Three Steps to Cut Your Carbon Footprint 60% Today by Jackson Carpenter

Day Two:

Fossil Fuel vs Renewable Energy

Thomas Edison said in 1931: "We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature's inexhaustible sources of energy -- sun, wind, and tide.  I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy.  What a source of power!  I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that."

One of the biggest challenges we face to today is energy.  We burn a lot of energy and most of it comes from fossil fuels, in fact about 85% of the global fuel consumption comes from fossil fuels which is oil, coal and gas.

Studies show that by burning these fossil fuels, large volumes of CO2  is being released into the atmosphere, damaging the environment.  The release of Carbon Dioxide is widely speculated to be a contributing factor of man-made climate change.

Some ways to combat the growing impact of energy consumption from fossil fuel usage are the use of renewable energy sources such as:

1. Wind Power
2. Solar Power--Which employs more people than oil, coal and gas combined in the U.S. according an article by Forbes released in June 2017.
3. Hydro
4. Biofuels
5. Nuclear

Renewable energy sources are constantly replenished and will never run out.

This is such a hefty topic and there are so many resources available to learn about fossil fuel usage and renewable energy, we've included several useful videos to help understand this topic!

There are some things we can do in our homes to reduce energy consumption. Here are 5 Tips to reduce energy consumption:

1. Shutdown and unplug your computer when it is not in use
2. Use energy efficient light bulbs and use the correct wattage
3. Unplug any electronics that are not in use
4. Use a power strip
5. Turn off lights
Action Items: 
1. Watch each of the videos in this email
2. Comment or email us what you learn about energy and renewable sources
3. Tag us and tell us what are some changes you can make to reduce the use of energy!

Day One:

Our Challenge Today: Protect Our Oceans

1. MIND YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT AND REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION

Reduce the effects of climate change on the ocean by leaving the car at home when you can and being conscious of your energy use at home and work. A few things you can do to get started today: Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, take the stairs, and bundle up or use a fan to avoid oversetting your thermostat.

2. MAKE SAFE, SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD CHOICES

Global fish populations are rapidly being depleted due to demand, loss of habitat, and unsustainable fishing practices. When shopping or dining out, help reduce the demand for overexploited species by choosing seafood that is both healthful and sustainable.

3. USE FEWER PLASTIC PRODUCTS

Plastics that end up as ocean debris contribute to habitat destruction and entangle and kill tens of thousands of marine animals each year. To limit your impact, carry a reusable water bottle, store food in nondisposable containers, bring your own cloth tote or other reusable bag when shopping, and recycle whenever possible.

4. HELP TAKE CARE OF THE BEACH

Whether you enjoy diving, surfing, or relaxing on the beach, always clean up after yourself. Explore and appreciate the ocean without interfering with wildlife or removing rocks and coral. Go even further by encouraging others to respect the marine environment or by participating in local beach cleanups.

5. DON'T PURCHASE ITEMS THAT EXPLOIT MARINE LIFE

Certain products contribute to the harming of fragile coral reefs and marine populations. Avoid purchasing items such as coral jewelry, tortoiseshell hair accessories (made from hawksbill turtles), and shark products.

6. BE AN OCEAN-FRIENDLY PET OWNER

Read pet food labels and consider seafood sustainability when choosing a diet for your pet. Never flush cat litter, which can contain pathogens harmful to marine life. Avoid stocking your aquarium with wild-caught saltwater fish, and never release any aquarium fish into the ocean or other bodies of water, a practice that can introduce non-native species harmful to the existing ecosystem.

7. SUPPORT ORGANIZATIONS WORKING TO PROTECT THE OCEAN

Many institutes and organizations are fighting to protect ocean habitats and marine wildlife. Find a national organization and consider giving financial support or volunteering for hands-on work or advocacy. If you live near the coast, join up with a local branch or group and get involved in projects close to home.

8. INFLUENCE CHANGE IN YOUR COMMUNITY

Research the ocean policies of public officials before you vote or contact your local representatives to let them know you support marine conservation projects. Consider patronizing restaurants and grocery stores that offer only sustainable seafood, and speak up about your concerns if you spot a threatened species on the menu or at the seafood counter.

9. TRAVEL THE OCEAN RESPONSIBLY

Practice responsible boating, kayaking, and other recreational activities on the water. Never throw anything overboard, and be aware of marine life in the waters around you. If you’re set on taking a cruise for your next vacation, do some research to find the most eco-friendly option.

10. EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT OCEANS AND MARINE LIFE

All life on Earth is connected to the ocean and its inhabitants. The more you learn about the issues facing this vital system, the more you’ll want to help ensure its health—then share that knowledge to educate and inspire others.

 

 

Action Items:
1. Watch Enric Sala's Ted Talk: Glimpses of A Pristine Ocean
2. Comment on the original challenge blog post on our website or on our social media pages (Facebook or Instagram) and let us know what you think you can do to help our oceans! (Do you live by an ocean or lake?)
3. Spread the word and share this post on your social media page (s)!