EcoChallenge 2017

Erin Fitzgerald

Ecova EcoChallenger

Erin Fitzgerald

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My EcoChallenge is to not buy anything that comes in a package.

My EcoChallenge Blog

October 23rd, 2013

I’ve always been intrigued by those who have embarked on lofty initiatives to reduce their impact (No Impact Man, The Clean Bin project), so when the EcoChallenge rolled around, I knew that I wanted to focus on waste reduction.

I always bring my own bags to the store (or carry things out without one), buy in bulk when I can, and opt for items that don’t come in excessive packaging. However, it’s the latter two where I want to improve and the EcoChallenge provides the opportunity to focus on lifestyle changes to help me reduce my waste.

Every good initiative needs a set of rules and here are mine:

  1. Buy nothing that comes in a package (see allowances below)
  2. Buy in bulk as much as possible (must bring my own containers and/or bags)
  3. No mooching (no getting friends or family to buy it for me)
  4. I’m free to use products w/ packaging if already purchased
  5. If packaging is inevitable, purchase items that come in zero and/or minimum packaging that can be recycled
  6. If I eat out, I must bring my own container (for leftovers)
  7. Try to borrow what I need instead of buying things

My allowances:

  1. Essential toiletries (see rule #5)
  2. Things that would be difficult to buy without the packaging/container it comes in (yogurt, wine, etc.)

I’m a week into my challenge and so far, I’m doing pretty well―though, I did have a slip-up (I’ll get to that later). I’ve been to the grocery store twice and have navigated it with ease and purpose. As a result of only buying produce and bulk items, I’ve left the store each time without any packaged products!

I’m already learning from my experience. For example, I have a weakness for New Seasons Wok Bowl take out (you choose what you want in it and they stir-fry it up). I was delighted to learn that New Seasons will let me use my own container provided it goes through their dishwasher first (takes about five minutes).

Now my slip-up. I was eating out with a friend and had enough left to take home. I explained to her that I couldn’t since I didn’t want to leave with a package. She patiently explained to me that wasting food is far worse than taking home a container. Hmmm…after much debate, I ended up with lunch for the next day. Although the container was compostable, it lead me to add #6 to my list of rules.

I’m excited to see what the final week reveals. Stay tuned…


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