Try the 365 Challenge! An Interview with Dr. Erlijn van Genuchten

The 365 Sustainable Decisions Challenge is a personal challenge to make one sustainable decision per day for 365 days. The idea is that if you make changes gradually you are more likely to adopt a sustainable lifestyle. I learned about this challenge over twitter and decided to interview its originator. I found the challenge very inspiring and I hope that you do too! – Meredith

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? How did your interest in sustainability start?

Everything I am doing is to leave a positive footprint on this world. I try to do this in all aspects of my life from my relationships to my work and hobbies. I love to have an idea in my head that I can develop and put into practice.

I got into sustainability due to a lot of the news stories that are being written about the environment. Most of them were not very happy stories. Things like the insects that were dying, high levels of CO2, and the fires now in Australia.

It just became too much, and I thought that I can’t just sit here and wait. I must do whatever I can and share what I am doing.

How did you get the idea for this challenge?

The 365 Sustainable Decisions Challenge is something that I came up with. This idea was triggered by my employer who set up a program where we as employees could submit our ideas on how our company can become more sustainable.

After this, I went on a cycling holiday. The idea for the 365 Sustainable Decisions Challenge popped into my head and I was so excited about it that I decided to start as soon as I got home.

Determining if an item is sustainable can sometimes be a challenging or complicated process. So, I was curious to learn how you are determining if a change you’re making is sustainable? 

Most of the time I just use my common sense. For example, if I just use a reusable bottle then it saves plastic compared to buying many different bottles of water.

In other instances, I must do some research. When I was learning about using paper versus plastic bags, I discovered that using single-use paper bags also wasn’t great for the environment. But I am learning all the time and getting inspired by doing this challenge.

What has been the easiest change that you have made because of this challenge?

Using different products is very easy since I generally only must do it once like more energy-efficient light bulbs. These are things that I only need to do once, and they remain with me. One practice I find very easy is putting a bucket under the tap when showering and then using the water to water my plants.

What is the hardest change that you have made?

Number 99 is the hardest, getting rid of flossing tooth picks. I am still trying to find a good solution for this product.

Have you maintained the changes you have made during the challenge?

I have tried to maintain everything that I have posted in my daily life. Most of the time, that works.

What tips do you have for others thinking of doing the 365 Sustainable Decisions Challenge?

One of the tips that I have is to share what you are doing with others. I know psychologically you are more likely to continue doing something if you share it with others. The other tip that I have is to take small steps. Don’t try to be perfect all at once. I like the analogy of climbing a mountain. Focus on taking little hills and eventually you will reach the top of the mountain.

I hope that you were inspired learning about the 365 Sustainable Decisions Challenge. Give it a try for a 2020 resolution or check out a few of the tips on Erlijn’s twitter @ErlijnG.

My blog is focused on finding new eco-friendly brands and products that you can swap with products you are currently using. These product changes stay with you and help you become incrementally more sustainable. Check out my other content to help you with your own 365 Sustainable Decisions Challenge and please consider subscribing if you are looking for more eco-friendly products.

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