I'm not quite sure why I feel uncomfortable about these regular challenges. Louisa touched on one aspect in her post on extreme frugal challenges, which was the competitive,
one downmanship. There's also the regular commitment required. Of course, this can be a good thing, if it encourages the development of good habits. In the context of writing a blog, though, this is not something I want. Some people use weekly features to structure their blogs, and I often enjoy reading these, but for myself, I'd rather write about things as they occur to me; I don't want the blog to become a chore because I've set myself the task of writing about a particular thing each week.
There's also the nagging feeling that by signing up to someone else's programme of challenges, I'm letting them do my thinking for me. In general, I don't think it's a bad thing to find someone whose principles you agree with and follow their guidance on the day to day decisions in life. I'm aware that humans, as a species, do most things on auto-pilot and if we think we're making conscious, deliberate decisions about every aspect of our lives, we're kidding ourselves. On the other hand, I'm as vlunerable to the illusion of conscious control as the next person, and so I choose not to delegate my decisions to someone else.
All that said, I've been following Change the World Wednesday for a little while now. The idea of this blog is to have a little challenge each week that lots of people can sign up to, and spread the word about, with the aim of encouraging widespread behaviour change for greener living - a most laudible aim. Notwithstanding my reservations about
signing upto things, I've tried the last couple of challenges.
The first challenge I tried was reducing shower times to five minutes. Ironically, since I stopped using shampoo, I tend to spend longer in the shower. Without the routine of shampoo - rinse - conditioner - rinse, I just stand under the water and my mind wanders, for 15 to 20 minutes sometimes. I've been thinking I need to do something about this, and the challenge was the nudge I needed. I found the timer function on my mobile phone, set it to five minutes and put it on a shelf in the bathroom as I stepped into the shower. When the timer pinged, I finished rinsing off the shower gel or whatever, and got out. Easy! I'll be sticking with that new habit.
The second challenge was to avoid using paper towels for a week, which confused me until I realised that this are what I call kitchen roll. I thought this one would be easy, as I hardly ever use them anyway, but then I remembered one thing that has me reaching for the big tissues without hesitation:
Cat sick, hiding on the hideous carpet. I'm so glad this wasn't a few inches further over, or I'd have stepped in it with bare feet.
I use washable cloths for cleaning up other things, but couldn't face the thought of cleaning out a cloth after using it for cat sick. I had a bit of a think - might there be an alternative to kitchen roll that I could use once and dump straight on the compost heap? How about big, soft leaves? I have comfrey...
When the inevitable happened, I headed out into the garden and picked a few leaves. The first thing I discovered was that comfrey leaves don't hold together so well as paper towels - it's quite easy to put a finger through one. However, with two leaves together and a bit of care, that wasn't a problem. Once the bulk of the mess was gone, it was a bit more difficult to clean the remnants off the carpet, as the leaves started to disintegrate with scrubbing. If the puke in question had been wetter, I think I'd have had to give up and use... well, I could probably have coped with a cloth for that bit - it's a bit less icky by that stage.
So, could I give up kitchen roll for cleaning up cat sick? I'm not sure. The leaves are only available in summer, and this time it happened to be a nice, sunny morning and I wasn't in a hurry to do anything else. The leaves also weren't very good. I did manage to clean up the mess, but kitchen roll would have done it better. Still, the important part of that is that the leaves did work - the job was completed successfully. It's more faff and not as effective. Maybe I'll do it this way sometimes, but mostly I suspect I'll be back on the disposable paper, just for this.