Last year I set up The Less Is More Challenge to celebrate Earth Day. The challenge contained 10 simple suggestions to help people realise that really really simple changes to make all the difference to the Earth on which we live. It was a great success and will be even better and bigger for 2014. I have a dedicated blog to The Less Is More Challenge and would love you to take a look and even follow. Recently, I wrote a piece called A Less Is More Christmas – a view of Christmas in two ways, both through my eyes. A polished marketed Christmas Vs my Less Is More Christmas. It is funny when you sit back and read. And I can guarantee that you will appreciate both of my views!!
You can read it here.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas xx
The beautiful Winter Woodland scene is painted by Jessica Jenney
TerraCycle launched in Ireland in 2011, but I still am amazed that the Irish public has not yet grasped the concept, or even tried to turn their trash into cash? So, I feel it is my duty to create an awareness around this really great company that is leading the way in ‘eliminating the idea of waste’
TerraCycle was set up by CEO Tom Szaky – an idol of mine and an absolute genius. Tom originally made his name when studying at Princeton – he fed the dorm food waste to worms creating liquid and solid fertilizers and packaged the products using recycled plastic bottles collected on campus. TerraCycle in the USA, have gone on to develop recycling programmes for cigarette butts and, wait for it, dirty nappies/diapers!!
The process is simple, worldwide there are a huge number of products that can be recycled ranging from mobile phones, diapers, crisp wrappers, biscuit wrappers and baby wipe packets. In Ireland, there are only a select few recycling programmes (that are called brigades) part because the uptake has been so low I guess? For each item returned you get 1cent that is credited to your account. You can spend the money on upcycled items that TerraCycle makes from the trash or you can donate the money to charity – and by the way a school is deemed a charity so it is a perfect way for schools to make extra money and also promote entrepreneurship amongst eager students wanting to make money.
The brands in Ireland are:
- McVities biscuit wrappers brigade (but any brand of biscuit wrapper can be sent back)
- Ella’s Kitchen pouches brigade (but any brand using the same container can be sent back)
- Johnson’s & Johnson’s Baby wipe pouches brigade (but again any type of pouch can be sent back)
- Old mobile phones (cash for each unit varies from 50cents to €2)
All you have to do is collect a bunch of wrappers, or get all of your friends and neighbours to help out, print off an An-Post postage label and send them off.
TerraCycle are one of the global brands that got behind my Less Is More Challenge for Earth Day and hope to get them into every school in Ireland for The Less is More Schools Challenge for Earth Day 2014. If you are a teacher or student in a school and would like to know more about The Less Is More Schools Challenge please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will also be setting up an account with TerraCycle to help with My Waste Free Home and have already started to collect biscuit wrappers, it just so helps that McVities Digestives are a favourite in our house – smothered in Nutella chocolate spread, I might add!!
So, come on Ireland lets show the world that we may be a small nation but we can recycle like no other – and it helps to get something back from it too!
What an AMAZING thought provoking and sometimes chilling film. I received the DVD copies sent so kindly by the film company behind the movie. One as a gift for me and to make sure I was practicing what I preached when I suggested as part of The Less Is More Challenge to watch the film ‘Home’ and the film ‘Trashed’. I also received two other copies one which went straight to Ms O’Keeffe and the students of Coachford College, Coachford, Co Cork, Ireland for their amazing participation in The Less Is More Schools Challenge for 2013.
The third will be part of a competition I will be running for My Waste Free Home – I set this up the day after watching the film – powerful viewing!!
The film was so chilling because it encapsulated the fact that we have reached the point of no return. The problem now goes back to each and every one who has a trash can and a recycling bin in their homes – we need to reconnect with the fact the when we throw something “out” or “away”, these terms just basically mean we are dumping the trash in our lands or burning it and will in turn eat it in some form or another.
Jeremy Irons was so perfect for the role as he was on point, funny and could deal with the crap that gets churned out by official people and people of power and he was not intimidated by anyone. He just wanted to find the facts about TRASH. What it is? What it does to the human body? Why are we leaving this happen? And What can we do about it?
The Film in my opinion is something that as a part of the consuming population it should be MANDITORY that you watch this. People historically dont care once the mess is not on their door step!! Well we now know that the mess is not only on your door step it is everywhere and is getting worse.
Check out the Trashed website Here.
As my favourite month of May winds to a close I have to sit back and reflect on the great things that I have achieved since 2013 began. It all started with a very fabulous wedding to a very special man, who I have great times with. We are just embarking on a journey of discovery about ones self and what makes a marriage tick along nicely. The family life is jammed packed to the brim, you can hardly add more in – yet we all do! More kids, more responsibilities and more of the things that spur you on and get your creative juices going. For me this has to be writing about Environmental Responsibility – it gives me butterflies in my tummy and when ideas come to me I have to have a pen and paper at the ready.
The year also included my Less Is More Challenge something that I decided to do to challenge those in society who have not yet got all green and for whom the earth is just the dirt in the garden! This is by no means their fault entirely, being earthy is like a radio frequency it needs to be tuned in and well, right now it is not a major deal if people don’t regularly tune into the earth and the ways they can do simple things to help out. But alas this is all changing for the better and I cannot wait to be a part of it. With my 10 simple suggestions people will be able to feel positive about doing their green thing and being proud about it. The Less Is More Challenge is to highlight Earth Day – which is April 22nd every year. But I have plans to make this journey one that lasts the year and beyond. I also have to thank all of the brands that jumped on board for the very first Less Is More Challenge, I pulled it together really fast and all of the brands were great lending their names, discounts and freebies. I hope that 2014 will be an even better year with more brands and participants taking part. I can’t wait to do something to highlight the earth and the challenge on the 22nd day of every fourth month – April, August & December!
As May is coming to a close so to is my title as Woman of the Month from Amia Online Magazine. I was totally chuffed and really flattered that I was chosen for this title. It couldn’t have come at a better time as anyone who is self driven knows sometimes you need recognition that you are on the right path – well this article and title sorted me out big style and I was so thrilled and unaware that I had been chosen. Amia Online Magazine is a great read for all those of you who like a good variety of reading in a mag and it is online which makes it easy to get through when in the office or online at your favourite time of day.
It is my birthday on the 28th of May and I will be in Spain to celebrate and totally pull the plug out of my brain – well maybe shut my computer/brain off to 70% capacity. I cannot wait to jog every morning, buy fresh fruit in the local shop, totally detox and eat copious amounts of the most delicious ice-cream I have ever tasted. I can just taste the kinder egg flavoured ice cream now….! Indulge in prawn pill pill and warm crusty bread, drink chilled white wine at lunch time (some times when I am not on mom duties) and play on the beach each after noon with Eabha. I hope to come home fully charged straight into My Waste Free Home mission. Read all about it on the Facebook page here.
Fun times ahead and I am so glad to have been born in May and a proud Gemini!
I was lost for words and totally chuffed to pieces this morning when I went to have a peek at my interview for online magazine amia. Editor Jan totally had the element of surprise when I realised that I was Woman of the Month – Totally blown away and honored. Thank You to Jan and all the team at amia for this great recognition. It is sometimes really hard when you are sitting in front of a computer all alone, trying to get your thoughts into action. All the blood, sweat and tears that go into my work can sometimes feel to be in vein – because of the fact that I rarely meet the people I have an effect on it is difficult to see the change or the appreciation for my work. This major appreciation and recognition couldn’t have come at a better time! It is also like a very early birthday present as May is my birthday month and also one of my favourite months – so what better issue to be Woman of the month than May 🙂
amia magazine is a great read with lots of powerful stories that will inspire you, lots of fun things to do and healthy alternatives. The best thing is it is online so no magazine waste, but it is jam-packed with great reading!
THE MAY 2013 ISSUE:
WOMAN OF THE MONTH.
Each month we will profile “unsung heroes” – the kind of women who inspire others around them without realising it. Often, we will go “undercover” to do this as the women we profile will probably not see themselves as heroes. This is our chance to let them know they are.
Claire Lewis is a wife, mum, author and nature lover. She started Claire Lewis Co. to inspire people to connect more with the world in which they live. She set up the Less is More Challenge to coincide with Earth Day (22nd April) 2013 and to inspire people to think a little differently about their use of resources on that day and subsequently. Claire lives in Dublin and says that she was “born an earth scientist and will die an earth scientist” and that her goal is be one who has made a little difference
- Tell us a little bit about your life, lifestyle and interests……
“Going forward, I know that the earth, the environment and living in an environmentally responsible way will become more and more important. Teaching (rather than preaching to) people is why I started the Claire Lewis Company – Making it Cool To Care About the Environment. This is all about giving tips on how to start making small changes, plus ideas to reuse things and DIY projects to get you on your “Green Path”.
“My life is pretty hectic. I am married with a three year old daughter and two dogs. As well as doing my own work, I also work part time in an events company. My main focus in my life is on implementing ways I can make a difference, whilst educating my daughter too. Children follow your lead and I am hoping that she will develop this mentality of doing things with the earth in mind.”
- Tell us about the Less is More Challenge and where the idea came from?
The Less Is More Challenge was born out of a blog post that I wrote on March 30th (https://clairelewisco.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/less-is-more/) I was trying to stir up people’s thinking – to prompt them to think, “How did we get into the situation we have found ourselves in?”
The LESS IS MORE CHALLENGE asks people taking part to do as many of the following as possible:
1. Pack a lunch for work.
2. Use a reusable bottle for your water – Bobble Bottles are great for filtering as you go and are offering a discount during Earth Month.
3. Do not purchase Clothing for one day. But if you have to try and only purchase clothing that give back and make an effort to tackle environmental issues in the production of the product. I don’t think in one day you will in counter a fashion emergency!!
4. Swap a Chemical Based home cleaning product for an ECO alternative, two of my favourite companies are Lilly’s Eco Clean & Ecover.
5. Discover Terracycle and the ways you can help to “Eliminate the Idea of Waste”!
6. Buy local organic produce or pre think your shop for the week to reduce food waste.
7. Plant a Tree and/or a plant that native bee’s like.
8. Cycle to work or take public transport.
9. Watch the film HOME & film Trashed.
10. Just open your mind for one day to the little things you can do to instil change in our world globally.
“Knowing that Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd every year I worked towards setting a challenge that everyone could participate in. I love psychology and part of the challenge for me was trying to impact on every-day people, like my husband, who on a regular day wouldn’t stop to think about the earth, environment, climate change or their own role in all of these issues. So I devised the challenge to contain 10 suggestions that would have a positive impact on the environment – but would also be easily completed by those who took the challenge. I have learned that people will change and listen to what you have to say once you do it in a positive way. If you start preaching about all the negative stuff in the world, this will help no-one and will overwhelm people. This could impact on my drive and the cause would be doomed.”
“It is important to keep positive and strive towards each individual having a positive view of their environment, keeping informed and taking an active role in improving things. Hopefully, one day this will lead to a neutral or positive impact on the earth!”
- What were the main things you are hoping to achieve through the challenge?
“I set out with the view that if I had a positive impact on just one person that would be fantastic! Earth Day occurs once a year and if this one person took on the challenge and succeeded then maybe they might keep up one or two of the suggestions all year. Then when the Less Is More Challenge links to Earth Day 2014, who knows what that person will do to challenge themselves for the next year? For some people, it is a baby step process. There are others (like me) who were born with the switch firmly on, in the quest for the “perfect world” where people have a positive impact instead of all the currently negative ones.”
- What do you think the main successes have been so far?
“Well, I can safely say I have beaten my quota of one person – I have over 420 people taking the challenge via Facebook. The special thing for me is that I set the whole thing up three weeks before Earth Day and the response was amazing and speedy. I even had a school – Coachford College in Co. Cork, Ireland totally embrace the challenge. They even planted a tree in my challenge’s honour. The success was so great that I am building on creating an awareness so that The Less Is More Challenge can be actively completed every day and not just for Earth Day. I would like Earth Day to be more of a celebration of actively participating the whole year round! Imagine that! If my dream came true for this, it would be amazing.”
“I have also set up The Less Is More Schools Challenge, which has slightly different challenge suggestions. More tailored to the student lifestyle and environment. Students are always eager to learn ways that they can make a difference and this challenge is a great way for even one interested class to get the whole school involved.”
“Another great success for me was the eager involvement of big green brands, as I call them. Brands like Ecover, TerraCycle, Lilly’s Eco Clean and the film Trashed (starring Jeremy Irons) were all very supportive and eager to lend themselves, their products and their brands to get on board and create an awareness of The Less Is More Challenge.”
- How do you think more people can get involved in doing things that can make a positive difference to the world?
“To anyone looking to know “Where do I start?” I would say – go online and get searching for blogs, and companies to give you pointers about how to get involved. If people do not actively think about the earth, they will have no idea about all the debates, the hot topics and ideas, how to make changes, etcetera. My company (Claire Lewis Co) is just one example of the type of company I am talking about – I set it up with the view of ‘Making it Cool to Care About the Environment.” I I blog regularly about a whole lot of ways to help you start to personally make a change. I believe that it is not necessarily people’s fault if they do not actively think about the environment on a daily basis – it should be a learned behaviour so should be taught in schools and encouraged by governments and employers.”
“Just like brushing your teeth, 99.9% of people do this on twice a day because we were taught to do so when young to keep our teeth in good condition. Well let’s start teaching that the earth is like our teeth – we need to care for it at least twice a day!”
- What are some of the main things that you think can get in the way of this?
“I find that most people do care about the welfare of the earth and the environment – they just have not learned that their own active involvement means a lot. Similar to my tooth brushing example, we just need to recondition people’s mind-sets and things will change. More people will begin to ask questions and demand answers. For example, we are all brain- washed by large multinationals who for years have marketed products in such a way that allowed them to become market dominant brands. These brands may not have very good environmental practices or be good for the consumers. What we need are consumers who will go to the till and ask questions, such as: –
“How is this manufactured?”
“How am I supposed to know what these ingredients when I am not a scientist?”
“How are your employees treated when they make this product?”
“Why do you use toxic chemicals and how do you dispose of them?”
“People are busy – sometimes governments need to manage what companies are selling. We need to a greater emphasis on greener products and services and this must be government led.”
- Which people have inspired you to want to make a difference?
“The main people to inspire me are Ecopreneur & TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky; Virgin boss Richard Branson and of course my husband Daniel Lewis! These guys are super positive and have “can do” attitudes – they are also not afraid of failing. I also just have this overwhelming urge to follow my passion which concerns all things to do with the Earth!”
- What do you say to those people who say, “It’s too late” or “What difference can I make?”
“I would tell them my snowflake story and let them make up their own minds:
Each tiny snowflake is as individual as you are – beautiful, intricate designs as unique as your finger prints. Some are smaller than others and some bigger. Collectively the snowflakes fall from the sky and can cover continents. But imagine if each tiny snowflake said, “Oh no, I can’t fall from the sky – I am so tiny that I will not make a difference?”
- Where do you get your own drive from to keep your quest going?
“I think it’s a combination of traits. I come from a working class family – my dad worked and my mum stayed at home and was very environmentally friendly without even knowing it. I learned a lot from her and she is also an incredibly hard working person. My dad was very good with his hands and he was always in his shed, working and maintaining things. He was also the one who nurtured my love for animals. We always had a dog and he even bought us chickens, which I was in charge of – of course!”
There was always a huge emphasis on education in my home and we were encouraged to do what we enjoyed in college. I loved school but I really, really had to work my little cotton socks off and for that I am very pleased. This gave me my steely determination and dedication – without this trait I think success would be difficult.”
- What are your hopes for the future?
“Where do I start? I have so many! My main area of focus is on writing children’s books. I want to be a successful children’s author, planting tiny little seeds in children’s minds and growing into full on love affairs with the earth and environment around them. I know I have plenty of material for this task – it’s all running around in my head just waiting to explode. I am just waiting for my first book ‘The Soother Cycle’ to be released so I can see where this takes me.”
“I want to grow The Less Is More Challenge into a very successful awareness campaign that gets results worldwide. I also want to focus on getting into schools as this is a major area where we can improve the level of practical knowledge our young students have to go out into the world and so they know what steps they can take to make their lives more environmentally responsible.”
“I have just undertaken the Live Below The Line Challenge where I will need to live on €1.19 for 5 days and within that budget, cover all my eating and drinking costs!! I think I may be the only person in Ireland doing this challenge and I love getting people to think, “Wow, I wonder what that is and could I give it a go?”
“There are a few other projects that I am working on at the moment that all centre around getting people involved in living environmentally responsibly and having a positive affect on the earth. So keep tuned in and follow my blog for more J”
Email me: email@example.com
The first Earth Day of 1970 was filled with anti-war sentiment and planet conscious
festivities. Every year on April 22nd, people across the globe come together to celebrate and
appreciate the earth for its many wonders.
The picture to the left is University of Mary Washington on Earth Day, April 22nd 2013.
This year, I wanted to celebrate earth day by reducing my use of plastics and avoid
buying products with excessive packaging. Clearly, doing this for only one day is not effective
so I set my challenge in place on Earth Day and have stuck with my challenge thus far. The
first day, I had to focus and pay attention to everything I bought or used throughout my day (it
is a challenge, right?). However, even after one week, I find myself bringing my reusable bags
everywhere and asking for ceramics instead of plastic cups at coffee shops. I am happy to report
that I am approaching full-awareness of all the plastic that I would be using every day.
Besides being more conscious of all of the plastic and packaging wastes that can accrue
even after one day, this Earth Day, I focused on how others celebrated Earth Day in my current
city of Fredericksburg, VA. After talking with some friends, I found some common trends.
Walking instead of driving, eating lunch outside, shopping with reusable bags, and avoiding
shopping were among the top answers. After this, I wanted to see how my community as a
whole celebrated Earth Day by taking a walk around the town to see if I noticed anything in
celebration of Earth Day. I found some banners and signs that said, “Butts are Litter Too: Keep
Fredericksburg Litter Free”. This sign was a great reminder that even small things like cigarette
butts have no place in the environment and should be disposed of properly.
As I wanted to learn more about how residents of my community were celebrating Earth
Day, I visited my regional libraries (Rappahannock Regional Library and English Run Library),
where I was lucky enough to talk with the Adult Services Coordinator, Michele Brown, and two
authors of the recently published book Traveling the 38th Parallel: A Water Line Around the
World, David and Janet Carle, about the importance of Earth Day:
“Is the recognition of Earth Day important to you?”
Michele- “Yes, I actually remember the very first Earth Day I had in high school,
specifically. I was allowed to walk to school instead of riding the bus. This was the only day out
of the year we were allowed to do this!”
David- “Yes, I think it is very important and powerful that people are taking the time
to mark environmental issues, this is special. It is especially helpful when places and people
celebrate Earth Day the entire week.”
“Is the recognition of Earth Day important for the city of Fredericksburg
specifically? If so, in what way?”
Michele- “ Yes for Fredericksburg, it is important. We have many beautiful natural
resources that we must preserve.”
Janet- “It is universally important. For Fredericksburg, the Rappahannock River is so
closely tied that it is vital. We even wrote about the Rappahannock River and river preservation
efforts in our book.”
“What is one thing that you have done in honor of Earth Day in order to be more
David- “Writing our book! Also, we both had park ranger careers which allowed us to
work with educating children on Earth day.”
“Is there a specific issue you would like to promote in honor of Earth Day?”
Michele- “Yes! Out global garbage situation is not pleasing. We have so much waste and
packaging wastes that we just don’t know what to do with. This problem is a national issue.”
David- “Yes, awareness of water and sustainability should be addressed. We all need a
better understanding of resources values.”
Janet- “ Yes, I think we all need to focus more on long term rather than short term
sustainability. Global sustainability is key.”
From my findings, I think the messages are very clear and honest. We are a global
community as inhabitants of the earth. Although April 22nd is the designated day to celebrate the
earth, we should try to understand Earth Day as every day. Now, this is where we turn to you,
what will you do to make Earth Day every day? Thinking about your everyday impacts is the
first step. The earth will surely thank you.
I have never been so pleased, proud and excited when I received an email from Ms.O’Keeffe to inform me that the students in Coachford College Co.Cork Ireland, where really interested in The Less Is More Schools Challenge and how could they get involved. It went from an initial email to the end result of:
- Poster Competitions to be placed around the school to highlight the simple ways people within the school could make a difference which the winner received a Bobble Bottle
- A Tree planting to celebrate Earth Day with a beautiful Amalanchier tree that was so kindly donated by Griffins Garden Centre
- A Power Point Presentation of Earth Day. Questions such as Q. What is Earth Day. Q.Why is it important to take care of the Earth Q.A Challenge to everyone to participate in The Less Is More Schools Challenge on Monday 22nd, Earth Day. Q. Do you know where your rubbish goes.
It really was an amazing achievement by all and Ms.O’Keeffe informes me that the students really enjoyed learning about the Earth but also passing the message onto others. Caring about the earth and the environment is an enjoyable experience as it gives us a feel good factor that we have taken steps to do something positive.
As a present to all the students of Coachford College Co Cork, Ireland – I have received a DVD copy of The Film Trashed starring Jeremy Irons. I hope that you can persuade Ms.O’Keeffe to let you watch it soon and if you also wanted to conduct a little competition you can all write about your thoughts once you viewed it. Send them onto me and I will judge the winner and your prize will be a guest blogger on my blog!
A big pat on the back again to you all for showing what simple steps can achieve and I hope your tree collection grows into your very own little forest!
Thank You from Claire Lewis & The Less Is More Schools Challenge see you all again next year but until then keep up the good work 🙂