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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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Why Bother? Why Live This Way? What Motivates You?

Why are you looking for ways to change your lifestyle?

Why are you looking for ways to change your way of doing things?  What motivates you to do the things you do?  Why do you come to One Green Generation?  And what is your goal – is it to be frugal, to simplify, to become more self-reliant, to live healthier, to prepare for the future, or for some other reason? 

There is a great conversation happening over here – first I wanted to thank you all for being so civil and kind in your disagreements – and second, I want to applaud you for getting everything out in the open.  I love that we come from different places, have different perspectives, and live quite different lives – and yet we all have similar goals.  That’s why I created this blog in the first place!  I truly enjoy seeing it happening.

So… What Motivates You? Why Bother?  Why Live This Way?

Please everyone, share your thoughts – it’s fascinating to know, and I believe we can learn a lot from each other.

Do You Have To Change Your Life Entirely In Order To Stop Climate Change?

Climate change.  It’s big.  It’s scary.  It’s looming.  And we all just wish it would go away.  In fact, it’s easy to pretend it isn’t there, as we go about our lives the way we had before we knew.  Before we knew that each of our actions makes a difference to our planet, to our children and the way they will be able to live their lives.

Why don’t we take actions to change our way of living due to climate change? Is it because it isn’t personal, it seems far away, or it feels like we can’t make a difference on our own (so why bother trying)?  Is it because only crazy environmentalists reduce their carbon footprint low enough for it to really change anything?  Is it that we’re too busy, too poor, or too concerned about other things to spend the time and effort?  Is it because we think change doesn’t happen at an individual level, but rather, it’s up to the politicians to make laws that create change?

Have I found your reason yet?

I have reasons, too.  I’m not perfect, I falter.  Since I have had such a crazy schedule lately, I don’t have a lot of time to cook so I do eat frozen pizzas and take out lunches on occasion.  I do get in the car on a whim and drive to wherever we need to go sometimes.  And I definitely do turn on the air conditioning when I’m sweating and can’t think, saying to myself that I can’t save the world if my brain is frying from the heat!

But wait. It’s not all or nothing, right?  Any change in the positive direction is good change.

It’s ok to taake one step at a time.  And even to start by changing the things that will make you happier.  Just start by doing whatever you like to do, but do it in a way that emits less carbon.  For instance:

  • Do you like to cook? So spend the time to cook a meal with fresh, local ingredients that taste better!
  • Do you hate cleaning? Then throw out all the toxic stuff and just spray some vinegar and wipe.
  • Do you love walking? So walk the two miles to work, or to and from the store, or wherever else you need to go.
  • Can’t stand tap water? Instead of buying bottled water, find a water filter that attaches to your sink – it will likely taste better and be cheaper!

Do you see?  Any change is better than no change. Don’t worry about doing it all at once, don’t worry about changing everything you do.  Just change what will improve your quality of life.  Make your changes work for you – to make yourself happier and healthier.  Once you’re happier and healthier, the other changes might not look so hard – you never know!


This blog is full of small changes you can make which together all add up.  Make some of the changes, and then tell a friend about them, or even make changes together with your friend.  We can inspire our friends and families to change, which increases our own power to change the world and help stop climate change.


You don’t have to change your life entirely to stop climate change.  But you do have to start the change. Take a challenge here or at another blog, read a book about things you can do, whatever gets you going.  One step at a time.


Please Share Your Own Experiences!


For those of you who are far along in your lifestyle changes:  What worked for you? What got you to start changing the way you do things?


And for those who are thinking about it but haven’t done much to change the way you do things: What are your biggest barriers?  How can we help?


Blog Action Day 2009 will be the largest-ever social change event on the web. One day. One issue. Thousands of voices.  Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day on their own blogs, with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance.”  We have participated since 2007.

Lessons I’ve Learned From My Grandfather: #1

I know several of you are anxious to hear answers to your questions.  I apologize – our schedules haven’t synced up easily over the last week, and I haven’t made it to see my grandfather.  Totally a bummer, as I miss him and I can’t wait to ask him your questions.  But until I can get together with him, I thought you might be interested in some things I have learned from him.


Courtesy Henry Ford Museum

When he was young, my grandfather would go down to the corner of the road with his brother, and they’d wait.  Sooner or later they’d hear it:  chuck, chuck, clunk, clunk, getting closer….  Ah, there it was – a car!!  They’d cheer and whoop about, it was such a novelty.  There were several trains that passed by during that time, but the car was the thing.

A couple of months ago a friend of mine took his son down to the corner and they waited, and waited.  Sooner or later they heard it:  chugga, chugga, clank, clank, getting closer….  Ah, there it was – a train!!  They cheered and smiled, it was such a novelty.  There were hundreds of cars that passed by during that time, but the train was the thing.


“It’s about time they put the trains back in,” my grandfather said.  “I can’t believe they tore out all that track in the first place!  What a shame.  You know the technology isn’t really any different than it was?  It’s just more expensive now.”

Our great grandfathers often had the right answers.  Sometimes it seems like we should have spent more time fixing things that needed to be fixed, rather than things that didn’t need fixing.


I’m Walking More Than I Thought!

10,000 Steps Challenge

I have finally measured my steps to work with a pedometer.  And… who knew?  Looks like I have been walking more steps than I thought:  during my 2.5 mile round-trip daily walks to work, I’ve been walking about 8,000 steps each day!  And that doesn’t include walking around at work and at home, taking Ellis for a walk, or anything else I do.

So, those of you who are walking with me, if you are on the shorter side and take pretty small steps,  your current translation from miles to steps might not be right.  Matt can walk the same distance, but take only about 1/2-2/3 as many steps.  And for the cardiovascular workout, the most important thing is the steps.  If you’re using the Google maps link (thanks, Sadge!), you may not have to walk as far as we originally thought.

I do feel better, because I was having a difficult time adding more to my routine.  So I will continue to do my walks, maybe take the long way home from work, and be happy with my exercise for now.  I’ll wear the pedometer around all day this week just to make sure I’m at 10,000, but I’m pretty confident I’ll get there easily.

A couple of you have asked about what “counts”.  If you feel like gardening, playing sports, or other forms of exercise are getting you to a healthy body and keeping you from polluting the environment, then I have zero problem with it!  The goal of this is to get us to use our own free and environmentally sound form of transportation:  our own two feet.

Here Is Who Has Joined Me On This Challenge:

Please feel free to join anytime – sign up here. Did I miss anyone?

How Are You Doing With Your Walks?

Even if you’re not officially joining the challenge, feel free to write about your walking.  Do you enjoy it?

How Is Your Walking??!

Hello everyone!  I’m alive but not particularly well.  I’ve been fighting off the flu.  So please forgive the intermittant posts this week.  I’m severely lacking energy.

But I wanted to learn how your walking is going!

10,000 Steps Challenge

Here’s a Bit from My Experiences:

I pledged to walk just about 5 miles every day:  from home to work, then from work to the community garden and back home.

Up until a few days ago (when I became ill), I was really enjoying the walks.  I walk right through the heart of downtown Seattle, passing walking commuters, bicycle commuters, bus commuters, and of course some cars, too.  I LOVE being a part of the hustle and bustle of life, and wondering with interest how different (and at the same time how similar) people are.

My walks consist of daily observations, smiles to friendly people, and a whole lot of good thinking.  It has become quite a meditative experience.  I’m able to clear my mind of many stresses and really focus on things that matter to me.  The brainstorms I’ve had while walking have been incredible!

I love it!

That said, it hasn’t been perfection.  Or rather, I have not been perfectly on top of walking.  A couple of times I’ve been running late – or feeling ill – and have taken the bus about 2/3 of the way to or from work.  And I have yet to make it to the community garden on the way home.  I’m thinking I need to re-evaluate that and do it on the way to work when I’m fresh, rather than on the way home from work when I just want to go home, see my husband, and eat dinner.

So I need to change my original plan a bit.  On Monday, assuming I feel better, I’ll begin my routine with walking to the garden in the morning, and then going to work from there.  Then I need to figure out how to eke out a bit more time in the day – it seems crazy, but that extra hour of walking has taken its toll on my schedule, so I need to rearrange my daily schedule a bit.  Live and learn.

How Are You Doing With Your Walking Schedule?

And if you’d like to join us, please feel free!  Good for your health, your emotional well-being, and brings you closer to your community!

The 10,000 Steps Challenge

10,000 Steps Challenge

Yesterday I explored all the many reasons I have been motivated to walk.  Please read it if you haven’t already!  Essentially, 10,000 is the magic number of steps needed to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system and keep your weight in check.  Walking has a number of other health benefits as well, including emotional and spiritual health.  Plus if you walk instead of driving or taking public transportation, you will reduce the amount of non-renewable energy used and CO2 produced.  And lastly, when you walk you tend to become a more active part of your community.

Do read more here if you need more motivation!

So here we go…

The 10,000 Steps Challenge

I am ready to make my pledge to you to work toward walking 10,000 steps every day.  Will you join me?

Don’t worry, this is not an all or nothing pledge, it’s a pledge to work toward 10,000 steps.  When you sign up for this challenge, you absolutely do not have to walk 10,000 steps tomorrow.  But you do have to actively work toward it.  Start walking 1,000 steps.  Or even 100.  Then every week add more.  Even if you can’t do it every day, start doing it as often as you can.  And then work on doing it a little more every week. 

Break Down Those Barriers!

The first step for you may be to address the barriers that keep you from walking.  Is there a voice say inside your head, giving loads of excuses why you can’t join this challenge? Or why 10,000 steps just is not possible for you?  Ok.  Pay attention to that voice.  Now – break down those barriers!!

For instance, are you saying “I don’t have any walking shoes”?  Ok, go buy some.  “I can’t afford them.”  Get some on sale or at a thrift store, borrow some from a friend, or go into your closet and take another look – maybe you can make do with what you have.  “I still don’t have any shoes.”  Ok truthfully, do you need new shoes?  Just use the most comfortable shoes you have and get on with it!  That’s what I do.  : )

“I don’t have time.”  Guess what?  Walking can add years to your life – that is years longer to spend with your grandchildren.  And walking can make you feel better, age more gracefully, and be able to do more active things.  And it helps contribute positively to the planet you’ll be leaving behind for your kids.  “But I just don’t have time.”  So, work on finding the time.  Rearrange your schedule so that you can do it.  You might find that when you add the time to get in the car, drive to your destination, park, and walk up to the spot – versus the time it takes to walk there… it’s nearly the same amount of time.  Plus, you can multi-task – listen to podcasts, books on tape, or music.  Or make all those phone calls you always put off.

Find solutions rather than continue to offer excuses.  It’s that important.  Break down those barriers – for your sanity, your health, your community, and your environment.

Be Safe

Please be safe, everyone!  Some little things to remember…

Bring water with you, and make sure you stay hydrated.  Wear comfortable clothing and shoes.  If you aren’t very active, work yourself up to an hour a day – don’t try to do too much all at once.  Walk slowly during the first 5 minutes of your walks, to warm up your muscles.  Walk in safe locations.  Of course, but make sure you do!  I always bring my phone just in case – so far I’ve only used it to report a traffic accident, but that is worthwhile.  And do protect yourself from the sun with a hat and/or sunscreen.


Please spread the word about this challenge, and use one of the following doodads to remind you, too.  You can post it on your blog, or if you don’t have a blog, you can post it on your fridge (if you click an image, it will take you to a bigger size)!

10,000 Steps Challenge

Check In

I don’t know about you, but there is certainly extra motivation for me, knowing that I have to tell you all how I’m doing with my 10,000 steps.  Remember – this is not a competition.  We are all living differently, with different barriers.  At the same time, we can all learn from one another and help motivate one another.  That is what community is all about!!

So I’ll post check ins here.  And if you’re antsy and would like to check in between postings, you can always visit this post and check in below, in the comments.


When you sign up below in the comments, please let us all know two things:  1.  when you will start and 2.  how you will begin working toward 10,000 steps.  And remember, you don’t have to have a blog to join – just sign your name if you don’t have one.

My Pledge:

Next Monday, I will walk to my new office, to the p-patch, and back home every weekday.  For my sanity, for my health, for my community, and for my environment.  This challenge is my extra motivation.  You all are my witnesses.  You’ll be keeping me on track!

Let’s Walk Together – Who’s Walking With Me?!

Our Steps Toward Sustainability: Ways to Reduce Electricity

Let's find out what electricity does, by mucus*plug on Flickr


I’ve been writing a lot about gardening and food lately.  So I wanted to touch on some other subjects.  For the last several years, Matt and I have been working toward a sustainable lifestyle in numerous ways – and growing our own food is only one of many things we’ve been doing.

Those of you who have been following our story for a while now, know that back on November 2, 2007, Matt and I joined the Riot For Austerity.  Like many challenges we have taken, this was for us a good motivator to make quite a few lifestyle changes we’d been thinking about.  Sort of a kick in the behind, shall we say?  Basically by joining the Riot For Austerity, we agreed to attempt to reduce our CO2 emissions and natural resource usage to just 10% of what an average American uses.

We achieved our goal of a 90% reduction back on September 24, 2008, and we’re still there! I don’t write about the Riot For Austerity much, because it has become a way of life now, and I don’t think about it much anymore. We have redefined normal.

But not all of us are as far along in our journey toward sustainability.  Some of you may not even be on that trajectory, and that is ok.  The things we’re doing have also decreased our spending considerably.  And not only that, they have made us much healthier, happier people.  Those are two great reasons to make some changes!


So I thought I’d just list some of the things we’ve done, to see if it helps any of you find some changes you haven’t thought of before.  Please share other things you’ve done in the comments!


Ways to Reduce Electricity Use


  1. Give away microwave on Freecycle.
  2. Use very few electric appliances, doing everything we can by hand.
  3. Consolidate oven cooking, so we cook several things while the oven is hot.
  4. Use toaster oven in place of regular oven whenever possible.
  5. Turn fridge to low setting that just keeps things at the right temperature (40F), no colder (when we lived in Geyserville, we were able to use our own tiny energy efficient fridge, but unfortunately this apartment came with a fridge).
  6. Remove window A/C.
  7. Turn off wall heaters from the electric box.  Instead, use energy efficient space heaters on low heat, only in rooms where we need the heat.
  8. Turn off computer monitor whenever we step away from the computer.
  9. Stop watching television except on special nights when we rent a dvd. Turn off at power strip when not using.
  10. When our old tv died, we purchased an energy efficient LCD tv.
  11. Replace all light bulbs with CFLs.
  12. Turn off any lights when not in use.
  13. Shower in warm water, not hot.  And shower fewer minutes, and less often.
  14. Wash dishes in the dishwasher, on cold, using energy saver, and without rinsing dishes first.
  15. Wash clothing in cold water.
  16. Use a light spray water mister to unwrinkle clothing, rather than an iron.
  17. Lower water heater temperature.
  18. Turn off computer at power strip at night.
  19. Use laptop while working at home as much as possible.
  20. Live in a small apartment – making heating, cooling, and lighting more efficient.


This isn’t really that much – it’s mostly simple things that just add up.  I encourage you to try a new way to reduce your energy bill, and begin living more sustainably this week!


Please Share – What Do You Do To Reduce Electricity?