A Great Time For A #LowCarbonLiving Challenge

Room with two ceiling lamps, one with light bulb removed

Source: wearechapterone Flickr CC BY 2.0

The 365 Days Of Low Carbon Living challenge continues.

As we seek to make changes and transform the way we live, we often look for a ‘good time’ to start a new habit.

Right now is a really good time. (Any time is!)

Today, is Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent for Christians. Many people take this time to practice self-restraint. Some even fast. These traditions are common across faiths and cultures.

So, now is a great time to challenge yourself…and start forming new habits!

How about a carbon fast? It’s a useful way to start a new meaningful personal action to reduce your contribution to climate damage and to reflect on the consequences of that damage. Importantly, you don’t need to be a Christian, or to confine your fast to Lent!

In past years, I have written about carbon fasting (for example here and here).  I shared some of the few carbon fast resources available, set myself challenges and wrote about my experiences.  I particularly value my fasts from using private petroleum-driven cars and, to a lesser extent, from buying new stuff.

At 40 days, any regular and frequently practised change you make during Lent should be well on the way to becoming a habit.

These days, the idea has really started to catch on and there are now quite a few organisations that promote carbon fasting (particularly for Lent). Be aware, though, that most carbon fast calendars put out by faith organisations tackle too many different areas (such as one area per day) to be effective at helping you to make (or even try) changing your behaviour.  On top of that, the suggested actions tend to be minimalist and ineffective  in terms of helping transformative personal or societal change.

One Lent challenge I particularly like this year is the Lent Plastic Challenge issued by the Church of England with some fabulous support from Ruth Valerio in the form of ideas for how to do the challenge and a supportive Facebook community.

For many years I have aimed to minimise my use of plastic, particularly plastic packaging.  However, my efforts wax and wane over time.  Furthermore, plastic is very pervasive in our modern lives that avoiding it can be a real effort. All this means that avoiding plastic is an ongoing battle and new ideas and support are always welcome. That is why I have decided to join in the Lent Plastic Challenge.


Plastic causes huge amounts of pollution – hard (e.g. ‘rubbish), chemical and aesthetic.  It affects our environment, wildlife and us.  (Did you know, for example, that plastic now contaminates sea salt?) Reducing this harm is the focus of the Church of England’s Lent Plastic Challenge.

However, most plastic has other harmful effects. That’s because it is made from fossil gas or oil or from coal…and their extraction, transport and use is a major cause of damage to our climate. (Did you know, for example, that the potent and fast-acting climate damaging methane leaks from joins in the pipeline from well to end-use?)

With damage to the climate still increasing and its consequences accelerating, it is vital that we stop contributing to the damage as a matter of urgency.

On top of that, reducing environmental stresses such as pollution will enable us to be more resilient to the effects of climate change and other stresses.


To start with, I shall be following a suggestion I saw today on Twitter.  It may have originated from wearechapterone in 2012:

The first action of the week – lightbulb removal!

“Remove one light bulb in your home and live without it during Lent as a reminder for what you’re doing.”

It’s hard to ignore the empty light fitting – it looks odd and broken. It is a very good visual reminder to reflect during the Lenten period, and to be more intentional about our energy usage. Already, we have got out of the habit of flicking the switch for this light – we can easily adjust to being without it. Which makes us think that we could probably adjust just as easily to many other changes in lifestyle – in order to live more mindfully, to consider the impact of our actions on people all around the globe, and to minimise our carbon footprint.

Then I shall be doing my best to avoid plastic.  A big challenge for me is, when I am eating or drinking out, remembering to request no straw.  (Hopefully a useful conversation about why ensues.)


Join me!

Any change or challenge is easier if you have company along the way.

So let’s embark on this journey together.

  • Read my blog every day for ideas, thoughts and experiences for living a lower carbon lifestyle, more in harmony with nature – while also adapting to the consequences of our damaged climate.
  • Subscribe to get posts direct to your inbox.
  • Commit to taking action yourself.
  • Add a comment to let me know you’re joining in the effort to turn around our world so it can remain liveable – and what your experiences are.
  • Share with others my posts and what you’re doing – our efforts, progress, experiences and challenges – on Facebook, on Twitter, in conversations with friends, on talkback radio and in letters to the editor.

A problem shared is a problem halved. We’re all affected by the changes to our world so we need to be all in on the action!

Till next time…