40 Days and 40 Nights of Eco-Awareness: Plastic Bag and Coffee Cup Challenge

This past week I got an email from Toni “T-Town” De Mello, a friend of mine who likes to challenge  herself by giving something up for lent each year.  This year she had all kinds of goodies on her list; giving up Facebook, no traveling, no TV, no buying anything online, no sugar, and no fried food.  In the end Toni decided to give up swearing for 40 days and 40 nights.  Good job T-Town!

No Swearing

I’m by no means a religious person, but enjoy the idea of giving up a guilty pleasure in an effort to challenge myself and maybe even get rid of a bad habit.  Toni motivated me to think about something I do regularly that really need not be a part of my lifestyle and it just so happens that lent coincided with a course I’m taking on Ecology & Nutrition.  So, I’m on a two-fold challenge for the next 40 days and it starts with coffee.

Take Out CupsDon’t be alarmed.  I’m not going to stop drinking coffee – I’ve already tried that not once, but twice and the best I could do is cut down to one cup of 1/2 regular and 1/2 decaf coffee per day.  This challenge will be not to avoid coffee, but to avoid using takeout cups because in Toronto alone 1 million paper cups of coffee are sent to the dump each year…that’s enough to make up the length of the CN Tower 216 times.


Yikes.  All for what?  A little convenience so that my lazy behind doesn’t need to bring a portable mug with me?  Sure lots of cups can be recycled but that is still a waste of material and energy resources.  So, enough is enough.  No more paper cups for me in the next 40 days and instead I’ll use a reusable stainless steel mug.

plastic-bagWhile I’m at waste reduction, what about the loads of plastic bags used at the grocery store.  I’m pretty good at bringing reusable cloth bags but I started thinking about all those little flimsy plastic bags used for bagging produce like fresh fruit and veggies.  For the next 40 days, I’ll be using nylon produce bags or reusing old fruit and veggie bags.

Changes to coffee cup habits and plastic bag usage will help improve my health (and the health of others) by reducing waste to landfills and decreasing energy expenditure.  I feel good about the next 40 days.

What’s your nutrition or health related goal?

You may want to consider creating a SMART goal, that is something which is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Sensitive.  Here is an example of my coffee cup goal:

Specific:  refrain from using takeout cups

Measurable:  at the end of 40 days, no takeout cups will have been used

Attainable:  I can achieve this goal by bringing my own reusable mug with me to work or making coffee at the office and using a ceramic mug

Realistic:  definitely not brain surgery.  I can easily refrain from using takeout cups…this isn’t going to kill me.

Time Sensitive:  40 days.  Hopefully a lifetime.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Think globally, act locally.”

– Sir Paul McCartney


One thought on “40 Days and 40 Nights of Eco-Awareness: Plastic Bag and Coffee Cup Challenge

  1. Pingback: 40 Days and 40 Nights of Eco-Awareness: Plastic Bag and Coffee Cup Challenge « heathermargaretland

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