Weekly Update

This Week:

I am continuing to mostly meet my time mark for shower length and stick to showering every other day. I still have not had a “perfect week” where I followed all of my guidelines exactly.

In the next few weeks I want to begin thinking less about the lifestyle project as a “challenge” or “personal competition”. In the beginning I was really caught up with meeting the 5:00 minute shower length. If my watch said 5:03 I thought, “Almost, maybe next time…”. I was forgetting the big picture which is to reduce my water use. The 5 minute mark only acts as a guideline to help me accomplish this goal. I have to remember that even when I go “overtime” I still use less water than before.

I know that realistically I will not time my showers for the rest of my life. If I associate this project only with meeting specific marks then I will not gain anything useful from this experience. Instead I need to focus on being aware of how much water I use and the impact it has on the environment. This awareness is what I can use throughout my life to be a more sustainable individual.

Have a great week.



Lifestyle Project from the Plastic Abyss

As a lifelong obnoxious green flag waver, undertaking a project that requires me to bare my unsustainable, plastic using, vulnerable underbelly is initially alarming. Phew, run-on sentence. But honestly, the more I thought about delving into my terrible habits, the more I felt…


Finally, no more beating the drum. No more hastily stashing non-reusable items and cowering at the garbage can retrieving carelessly disregarded recyclable. It’s nice to lower the professional facade and divulge my eco-dirty laundry. So, let’s talk about plastic baby!

Two deep seated issues lead to my apparently insatiable appetite for the polyethylene wonder (i.e. plastic grocery bags). When in stress, I cook. Huge vats of vegetable concoctions teaming with things like kale and turnips and leeks. Coupled with my love of experimental vegetablery, is the spontaneity in which these impulses arise. At least twice a week, come ten p.m, especially if it’s raining, out I run to the fine establishment of Saar’s Market for whatever odd shaped legume I can find. Which leads to my second sustainable flaw: I am a terrible, horrible, no good bag forgetter.

The kicker is that I own millions of reusable confections, woven in fair trade shops, branded with bank logos, borrowed (stolen) from friends and family, and of origins unknown. Millions. But as I dash for the door, dreaming of curried potatoes, squash mash, fried zucchini, I neglect to grab a single tote.

And good lord, vegetables purchasing can result in so many bags! Sequestering each leafy green adds up pretty quick.

So as my lifestyle project, I vow to take the moment, snag the bag and then hit the frantic mid-evening shop. Wish me luck!

So stay tuned to hear about produce juggling, awkward bag substitutes, and the addition of the fair trade, organic coffee challenge extravaganza! Next weeks update promises a rousing tale of fair trade/ no trade barrister brawls and the DTs.

Goal of the Week:
1. No bags, much glory
2. Ordering of fun, eco-friendly plastic bag alternatives
3. Not a drop of non fair-trade coffee to cross these lips

Be well,


Emma’s Shower Saga Continued…

So far I have really struggled with two things:
1. Turning off the water in between washing and rinsing (which I found out I usually have to do to meet the 5 minute time limit)
2. Lowering the water temperature
I realized that I struggle with both of these things because I get cold and find that uncomfortable. This past week I reasoned that I simply needed to re-define what “cold” was by associating it with a lower temperature. In order to do this last Sunday I attempted to take a shower with the dial completely pointing at the “C”. I figured that in the future whenever I felt cold I would think back to that SUPER painfully cold experience and be grateful for the situation I was currently in.

I had the best of intentions to follow through with this plan. However, I did not get any farther with it than standing with the water off staring at the shower head imagining the onset of pain. I ended up telling myself that if I strictly followed my lifestyle changes I would not have to go through with the “ice shower”. That morning I used 2.5 minutes of water.

Since then I tell myself each morning I can either shower by following my lifestyle changes or experience the “ice shower”. The result of “choosing” from these two options has been pretty good. I have been meeting my 5 minute time goal and complain less. I know it is all mental, but I honestly feel better adhering to my lifestyle changes when thinking “At least I am not as cold as I would be with the alternative…” By refocusing on a potential “less comfortable” option, I think less about my past “very comfortable” option for water use.

It will be interesting to see how long this mindset change lasts…

Before I go I do have to say that I had a slip up this week. For lack of better words I “fell asleep” in the shower. It was early, I was tired, and before the shampoo reached my head my time limit was almost up. I guess the lesson is that in order to be environmentally sustainable one must be personally sustainable by taking time to rest and rejuvenate. Good luck doing that in college though…

Till next week,

busy week, coupled with a lack of planning ahead makes buying food without packaging harder

Hi all,

This crazy week has been one of my busiest at PLU. As a result, I had to resort to buying lunch on the go a few times. This is partly poor planning on my part, but with advising meetings squeezed into my already-busy schedule, I simply couldn’t always find time to go to the UC for lunch. I also didn’t want to sacrifice my health or ability to concentrate in classes, so there were unfortunate, but necessary purchases that I had to make. It looks like things are slowing down a bit, so that should be good in terms of having more time to sit down and eat lunch in the UC. Also, this week has shown me that I need to work on planning ahead in order to prevent this rushing around in upcoming weeks. This is tough, but hopefully it will become easier with practice! The shower thing has been a breeze so far, so I’m thankful for the quick adaption.

Until next time,


Challenge Update

Hello All,

It has been about a week since I last posted about my lifestyle challenge, and since then I have gotten much more used to it. I have been good about not buying packaged foods, although my downfall has been potato chips… I succumbed to temptation and ate a tiny bag the other day. However, aside from that it has been working well. The main change in my life is that I eat at regular mealtimes in the UC and my snacking is limited to fruit because that only has to be composted. It’s almost like I’m on a diet, which was not my intention with this project, but that’s okay i guess… It is still difficult to make time for meals with my schedule, but once I develop a routine it will get easier.

I encourage you all to try this out, it’s really not that difficult, and it’s healthy! You don’t need to completely eradicate trash from your life, maybe just try to reduce it. The reason I chose to set a no-trash goal was that I knew it would be easier for me to stop completely than to have enough self-control to only buy packaged foods sometimes, and so far, it’s going really well.

Feel free to comment about your own projects and look for another post in a week or so to see if I am still sticking with it…

-Siri Johnson

Latest from GREAN

Hey everybody,

I know this may be very sad to you, but I am calling off the GREAN meeting this Monday. There is a panel about Privilege going on at the same time (the one this week is about Marriage) and I think it is important to attend that. So, I will be going to that, and any of you are welcome as well! 7pm in the lower UC, the room that is right near the Clubhouse I believe. Otherwise, take it as a free night to do whatever: homework, laundry, nap, etc 🙂

Oh, I have some bad news: for those of you that have come to the past few meetings, we are not going to be able to hold a Clean Energy Forum through Focus the Nation at PLU. Apparently there was a deadline in early Oct. However, I have been in contact with a girl at UPS, and we can help them with theirs! So that could definitely work.

As for One Less Cup, I will count how many we have sold so far and we can table next week? We should talk about if the location was good, if we want to sell in other places and other times, etc. We have done very well so far, I have seen the mugs everywhere! Go Team!

Here is something fun to watch: http://storyofstuff.org/bottledwater/
Luke Stromberg sent it to me, and it definitely relates to our Take Back the Tap/One Less Cup goals!!

Have a fabulous week,
Marta Behling

GREAN has a new and improved website!

Also check out our Google Calendar for all upcoming events.

Emma’s Lifestyle Project Reflection

Growing up, my simplified concept of the water cycle led to gross misconceptions about water as a resource. From what I can remember, learning about the water cycle in grade school consisted of a basic image…

1. There was a cloud that had a “precipitation” arrow coming down from it
2. This arrow (associated with a smiling rain drop) then went into to a body of water labeled something such as “Lake”
3. From the “Lake”, wavy arrows labeled “Evaporation” went up to the sky.

All the arrows curved in a circle making a seemingly continuous (renewable) cycle.

I associated this process with my use of water. I had the understanding that when I took a shower water was taken from the Mississippi, the dirty water from my shower went down the drain and got collected/cleaned, and then the water went right back into the river ready to be used again.

Childhood was bliss. I could take my long warm showers without guilt or worry. Why worry about saving water if it will always be there? I knew not to “waste” water but that I associated more with thinking about the cost and energy to use and clean it, not the resource of water itself. Unfortunately, greater awareness of water conservation issues has shattered my ideal “never depleting water image”. While I was not completely wrong in my original conceptions about where water comes from and how it is transported (especially in the case of Saint Paul, MN) I was missing some key points…

Now that I have an increased awareness about this topic (by no means complete understanding) I realized I should step it up and try to limit the amount of water I use. This means my lifestyle goal is…(I just did a drum roll on the table) to reduce my hot water use by taking showers every other day for the duration of 5 minutes or less.

So far, this has been a struggle. I have been SO close to accomplishing my goal for about two weeks but I have run into some barriers.

Trying not to be just a Negative Nancy, I will show my Positive Polly side about this project also in a Con/Pro “Chart”.


1. I have found it takes 45-50 seconds for the water to reach the “Emma endorsed temperature for acceptable bathing warmth”. This means about 1/5 of my shower time is taken up by just getting the water ready.
2. I hate turning off the water between “lathering” and “rinsing”. I know it saves water running time, and would allow me to take “longer” but less water consumptive showers BUT…Early morning + being cold and wet = Pure Anger.
(so I stopped attempting to do this after the first week)
3. I feel pressured by the “tick Tick TICKing” of my watch. It may not actually make noises, but I constantly am thinking OH NO I only have 2.01 minutes left…
4. Situations such as what happened Wednesday *(explanation below)
5. I feel like my efforts to conserve water really doesn’t make any difference in the grand scheme of things. (which persuades me to stop trying)


1. Personal Growth…(?)
2. I am still sticking with it and have not given up yet
3. I can sleep longer because I don’t wake up as early (10 minutes makes a BIG difference)

Hopefully as the weeks go on there will be more to say about the positives….

* Time: 7:08 am
Day: Wednesday
Location: The shower

I looked down at my watch and saw that I had been running the water for 4:31 minutes. I thought SHOOT, I have less than 30 seconds and I have not rinsed the shampoo out of my hair. However, I did “finish” the rinsing process and was just over my 5 minute goal. Success? Not quite. When I was back in my room and brushed my hair I noticed that I still had shampoo on the left side of my head in “fluffy lather form” Did I go back and fix it? NO. (Although it was because I would have been late for my 8:00am class… not because I was really concerned about using more water…)

What happened? It made my head itchy. On the outer layer it sort of dried and ended up flaking. I could move my hair and it would “snow” like that one girl in the Breakfast Club. It was nasty buckets. Also, it just got really greasy. Yeah, so I felt gross…

That’s about it for this week.

My “mini” goal for next week is trying to have a better attitude. However, I realize that not everyone can be a Kenny S.