How Do I Look?

Green fashion. This topic is a big one for me. I even wrote a book about it.
You ready?

My sense of style is not the same as your sense of style.
Crazy about jeans? Be my guest!
You only like to wear dresses? Good for you.
Yoga-wear is your go-to outfit? Enjoy!
You want another sweater? Buy another sweater.

Be your own style-guru and surround yourself with clothes that you love.
Okay?

Only, that is getting increasingly harder to do.
I’ve got two words for you: fast-fashion.

Without getting into all the ugly weirdness orbiting the fast-fashion industry, I want to focus on the fact that when the main goal is to sell as many outfits as humanly possible in the shortest amount of time, things like quality and craftsmanship go out the window. The decline in quality has been rapid and under the radar.

I get how using words like craftsmanship makes me sound like an old maid, but the absence of it affects our shopping habits in more ways than you can imagine.

For instance, did you know that we now buy four times as many clothes as we did a few decades ago? And did you know we only wear twenty percent of what we buy? That’s just sad. Warmed by the glow of cheap and disposable trends, we forget to check in with our minds and ask two paramount shopping questions:

-Do I like it?
-Does it fit me?

Instead, thoughts like, ‘Animal print? Why not! I can sooo pull it off. Plus, it’s crazy cheap. I would be insane not to buy it. Maybe I should buy it in blue also? Just to be safe?’ take over and rule the show.  

You think I’m making this up? Check out your own wardrobe. How many of your clothes would you have bought again today? How many of them make your heart sing? All of them? Some of them? None of them?

Green fashion.
I’m getting to the part about green fashion now.

How and where we shop affects the health of our planet. We know that. We know that pollution is bad and sustainable energy is good. But did you know just how much the clothing industry pollutes?
Two words: fast-fashion.

On the plus side, an increasing number of brands and designers are experimenting with sustainable fabrics, adopting ethical business models, and creating environmental production lines. Yay!

Yay? Well . . almost.

Before we throw ourselves at the green fashion brands, I would like to go back to the two questions posed a few moments ago:

-Do I like it?
-Does it fit me?

When I went shopping at a wonderful ethical store, I was so blinded by the fact that my new sweater was handmade by reclaimed wool that I forgot to notice that it had an unflattering boxy shape. Wearing it I looked like Mrs. Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. That would be Emily Gilmore, not Lorelai.
So.
Annoying.

On the other hand, one of my all-time favorite t-shirts is from the fast-fashion chain H&M. This crisp white t-shirt reminds me of tailgate parties, cool summer evenings, and fun conversations with my gang. It makes my heart sing.  

So, no. I don’t think the answer is to simply shift where we shop. It’s too simplistic. Naïve. I think a more sustainable solution is to look at how we shop.

Dream with me.

What if we stopped buying clothes that we sort of liked? What if we only bought clothes that we truly loved and made us feel better in our own skin? Not only would that make us look and feel awesome, but half the pollution battle would be won. Easily.
How cool would that be?

Here are some strategic questions to help you make that dream become reality. When out shopping, pause and ask yourself:

-Do I like it?
-Does it fit me?

And . . .

-Would this make my top-ten list?
-When do I see myself wearing it?
-What else could I be spend my money on?
-Do I need it?

Need is a relative term. Let’s not argue about it. It’s up to you. Besides, I’m not here to tell you what you need, I’m only inviting you to stop buying clothes you don’t like.

My own relationship with green fashion is a living organism and it keeps evolving. Here are some things I’ve tried in the past:

  1. I went a year without shopping. It was hard, but also surprisingly rewarding.
  2. Only shop from ethical stores. Ehhh, no! (See boxy sweater story above.)
  3. Only shop at expensive stores. Expensive brands is code for quality, yes? Nooooo. My Ted Baker coat made me feel like a tree-trunk. Return to Sender.
  4. Only shop at thrift stores. Well, yes! Carbon neutral! Wide selection. Money goes to a good cause. Hello! Sign me up!

The last one is actually sticking. If you want to buy fabulous clothes without ruining the planet in the process, look no further. Plus, where else can I find clothes that cater to my need to dress like Lara from Dr Zhivago AND Lara from Billions? Shopping at thrift stores is like a green treasure hunt.

So.
What do you want to do?
What will you make green fashion mean?
Whatever model you land on, remember to only buy clothes that you truly love.
Let me say that again.
Only buy clothes that you truly love.

You’ve got this!

Until next time, Inger

PS: If you want to read about my year of not shopping, you can buy your copy here:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Do-Look-Stopped-Shopping-ebook/dp/B01HSKB1CK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497865777&sr=8-1&keywords=inger+kenobi
PPS: If you are wondering about the state of your wardrobe, why not do a decluttering session? Grab my free decluttering book here:
https://www.ingerkenobi.com/f

Good luck!


Hosted by Inger D. Kenobi, this column is here to answer all your burning questions, big and small, about whatever is on your mind about climate change. Just email askinger@cchallenge.no, and it might be answered in the next column.

Inger D. Kenobi is a life coach and the author of the book, 'How Do I Look? The Year I Stopped Shopping?'

Bringing change home

It’s a beautiful and amazing world we live in. From my desk I look out over rolling hills and a vast blue sky. Cotswold scenery. Lucky me! 

But . . . Sometimes I’m a bit envious of the generations that walked on this Earth before us. They got to truly explore, celebrate, and enjoy this planet. We get to do all of that too, I’m not saying that we don’t, but we’ve also been given the daunting task of protecting and saving it.

Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent. Without going into all the gory details, there is no doubt that this tragedy is the direct result of human activity. Unless we take decisive action, a bad situation will soon get a lot worse.

Statements like these can feel chilling and bleak, to put it mildly. But there is hope.

In my quest to save the world from the comfort of my own home, I invite you to help me create powerful new stories, a new narrative about this time we live in that will ensure we leave a lasting legacy we can all be proud of. 

But first, let me tell you about this wedding I attended last weekend. Picture a Jane Austen-y country church, champagne reception and dinner at an estate, and all the guests milling about in fancy outfits; morning suit, kilts, evening dresses, and those crazy hats you normally only see at Ascot. In any case, I’m standing on the lawn talking to an investment banker from London. Suddenly he tells me about his dream to become a tree-surgeon. ‘I just want to do something for the planet,’ he says. ‘I love trees. And imagining being outside all day!’

In return I tell him how I want to be like Julia Butterfly, the girl who lived in a redwood tree for almost two years. Alone. On a tiny platform. 

BANKER: Why on earth did she do that?

ME: To save it from being chopped down by loggers.

BANKER: What do you mean?  Are you saying that loggers are chopping down redwood trees? Whatever for?

ME: For money.

BANKER: Well, that’s just insane.

Not only was it great to meet a fellow tree-enthusiast, but it was fun to talk about climate change in a joyful setting without being afraid of spoiling everyone’s mood. Which we didn’t, by the way.

Now, I will probably never get to live on a platform in a redwood tree, but that’s OK because my entire home is a platform for change (see what I did there?). And that’s what I want to talk to all of you about. How to use our homes as a catalyst for positive change.

Here are some easy ways to start:

Recycle

  • Turn off the lights when not in the room
  • Take shorter showers, or shower less
  • Declutter

Let me be the first to point out that none of these initiatives are as exciting or adventurous as being out on the savanna tracking and protecting lions (another dream of mine).

But that shouldn’t stop us. And here is why. 

Decluttering, for instance, is less about becoming a minimalist and more about becoming aware of what you have and how your belongings affect you. When you walk into your home, do you feel happy, overwhelmed, excited, or bummed out by what you see? Paying attention to this feeling is step one. (Spoiler alert: most people have far more stuff than they think they do, and they use only a fraction of what they own.) Step two is weeding out all the things you no longer like/need/want. Step three, and this is the best part, is that you evolve into a master sifter and selector. Here is what I mean by that. After a few rounds of decluttering, you automatically think twice about buying more stuff. Another salad bowl? Not on my watch! 

As you take stock of what you already have, you buy less stuff, and as a result you reduced your carbon footprint. Just like that! See how easy that was? Talk about a domino effect. By tackling the small stuff, we influence the bigger picture by default. And just to point out the obvious, making changes in our homes is far easier than trying to change the entire world.

That’s why I’ve never liked (or understood) the saying, “It’s just a drop in the ocean.” That sentence is the equivalent of a shrug. It’s depressing and wrong in equal measure. 

So let’s turn it around.

‘'You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”

Who said that? Rumi the poet did. He sets us straight and reminds us that it’s entirely possible that we’re not insignificant little pieces in the big scheme of things. We are the big picture, we are the entire universe. What we do matters.

Over to you. What can you do in your home? How can your daily chores pave the way for a greener future? What can you change or tweak?

Let us know, because I’m always looking for new and fun ways to improve my day-to-day footprint. Together, I know we can come up with some amazing ideas.

So long!


Hosted by Inger D. Kenobi, this column is here to answer all your burning questions, big and small, about whatever is on your mind about climate change. Just email askinger@cchallenge.no, and it might be answered in the next column.

Inger D. Kenobi is a life coach and the author of the book, 'How Do I Look? The Year I Stopped Shopping?'

145 students take the cCHALLENGE

Something will change in Stabekk over the next 21 days. It may pass unnoticed, but it will be significant. Why? Because Stabekk High School has decided to do something about climate change.  They have taken on the cCHALLENGE – a project that is far more powerful than it looks because it engages people directly with change. 

At Stabekk High School, 145 first-year students, their teachers and even the rector of the school have committed to make one small change in their daily lives that is related directly or indirectly to reducing the risk of climate change.  It is part of their module on sustainability, and it is part of their science, social studies and English classes.

Karen O´Brien from cCHANGE visited the school a couple of days before the challenge started to present the latest science of climate change and to explain to the students why and how they are important parts of the solutions. She pointed out that one small change can make a big difference, especially when it starts new conversations about change.

IMG_8666_justert.jpg

The students have chosen a range of change experiments. Some will eat less meat, some take shorter showers, and others will avoid plastics. The rector has chosen to get better at recycling. Over the next 21 days the they will be active on Instagram, posting photos and text about their experiences. You can follow their stories on the hashtag #schallenge (short for Stabekk Challenge).

It will be exciting to follow their ups and downs, and interesting to see how they inspire and influence others -- not only friends and family, but people all over Norway (and the world?!). Not the least, we look forward to hearing their insights on change. When young people understand that they can play a key role in changing systems, watch out!

Who’s Your Role Model?

Growing up I wanted to be Jackie Kennedy. She was so completely my type. Beautiful. Talented. Resilient. Mysterious. I can’t deny that these qualities still appeal to me. But more than that, I always felt that a woman who had to bear witness to her husband’s assassination was made of stronger stuff than your average person. She chose to go on, and I liked that about her. She belonged to a completely different world than mine, which at the time meant I felt like I’d landed on the wrong planet.

None of this is important for any of you to know, except for the fact that it’s a fun introduction to the topic of role models. 

When talking about role models, it’s tempting to let names like Malala, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela roll off my tongue, making sure to pronounce each syllable loudly and clearly. Ma-la-la. Approving nods would be a given, and I would have the pleasure of coming off as a person with healthy values and fantastic role models.

However….

When it comes to role models, more specifically, when it comes to role models and the environment, I like to look beyond the usual suspects and widen the circle. The more people we include here the better. Also, we don’t have to admire everything about these people, sometimes it’s enough to single out one specific action or quality. 

Let’s take a closer look.

Sustainable Diet

What do Brigitte Bardot, Bill Clinton, and Paul McCartney have in common? They’re all vegetarians. Being vegetarian used to be linked to animal rights activists or religious people, but with challenges like a growing population and draining of natural resources, a meat free diet is increasingly becoming an important argument for sustainable living. Changing what you eat can save the world. I personally don’t eat anything that used to have a mother or a face, so I get super excited to read about fellow vegetarians. They are all my role models.

Sustainable Shopping

What do Vivienne Westwood, Emma Watson, and Livia Firth have in common? They promote sustainable fashion and shopping.

  • Vivienne Westwood said: Don’t invest in fashion, invest in the world.
  • Emma Watson said: I made a choice last year that I would only wear sustainable fashion on the red carpet. The fashion industry is the second-biggest pollutant of fresh water on the planet. It has such a huge environmental impact and such a big human impact.
  • Livia Firth said: Become an active citizen through your wardrobe.

In a world of disposable fashion and weekly trends, changing how we shop is HUGE. I admire and look up to everyone who thinks twice about buying yet another outfit they don’t need. You’re amazing!

Sustainable Tree Lovers

What do the King of Bhutan, Jadav Payeng, and Julia ‘Butterfly’ Hill have in common? They’re all tree lovers and environmental activists. The King of Bhutan has made a commitment to maintain a minimum of sixty percent of Bhutan's land area under forest cover for all time. For all time! Sixty Percent! It’s no wonder he’s been invited into the Kyoto’s Earth Hall of Fame. Jadav Payeng, aka the Michael Jordan of tree planting, has single handedly planted a 1360-acre forest. It took him thirty years. He’s still going. Julia Butterfly is famous for spending 738 days living in a 1500 year-old redwood tree. She did this to prevent loggers from cutting it down. It worked.

Considering that 150 acres of forest is lost every single minute every single day, I think that every single person who plants a single tree deserves an award and a medal. As the Chinese proverb goes, ‘The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.’

Tree lovers are the new super heroes.

I could give you more examples, but you get the picture. Role models are everywhere. People from all walks of life are putting their personal touch on what it means to care for the environment. From the zero trash people to the owner of Tesla, collectively they represent everything that is good about this world. By drawing inspiration from their actions, there is no end to what we can accomplish. Look at what they’re doing and see where the inspiration takes you.

A word of caution

Connecting with a role model can sometimes feel like the missing piece of the puzzle. It can be a catalyst for change or a step towards a better you. You’re looking at things in a new way. You get ideas. You have a vision. You’re full of energy. You’re finally going to have an impact. It’s basically one of the best feelings in the world. But then as you take a closer look at where you are, and you compare that with all the incredible things your role model has accomplished, you suddenly feel small and insignificant.

How to move beyond that?

You move beyond that with curiosity and compassion. Even if your grand vision feels way out of reach, you’re going to be kind to yourself and say, ‘I get that I’m just starting out here. I’m new at this. Let’s see where this road takes me.’ How you talk to yourself matters. Armed with a healthy dose of self-compassion and a practice of being a really good friend to yourself, you’re going to have the ability to be open and curious. Then you go back in, and you try something new, and you make it your own.

That’s what all of our role models did. That’s what we all need to do. And before you know it, you've become the very thing you looked up to.  You've become a role model.

Until next time!

Inger


Hosted by Inger D. Kenobi, this column is here to answer all your burning questions, big and small, about whatever is on your mind about climate change. Just email askinger@cchallenge.no, and it might be answered in the next column.

Inger D. Kenobi is a life coach and the author of the book, 'How Do I Look? The Year I Stopped Shopping?'

How to Outsmart Plastic

In my last post, I briefly mentioned how I’ve cut my plastic consumption in half. It took me over a year, but I did it. So now people ask me, ‘How did you do that?’

How, indeed!

Before I hand over all my secrets, let’s take a brief look at what we’re dealing with here.

Plastic is like the Voldemort of the consumer world; it’s powerful, influential, and deadly. Unlike the Dark Lord though, you can’t get rid of plastic with a wand and magical spells. In fact, you can’t get rid of it at all. It never decomposes. Put simply, plastic hangs around forever and ever. It’s like a gift that keeps on giving, only in a bad way.

That’s one part of the problem. Another part of the problem is that you can’t take two steps in any direction without running into something made of plastic. It’s everywhere. Just take a look around you. What do you see? How many plastic items can you name?

Fact: every minute, one million new plastic bags are in circulation worldwide.
Fact: on a yearly basis, 17 million barrels of oil are used in the production of plastic water bottles.
Fact: plastic in our oceans now outnumbers sea-life six to one.

To quote Jeff Bridges, ‘When did we become such a plastic society?’

In 1907, is when. That’s when plastic got invented, and since then it has increasingly replaced natural materials like stone, wood, bone, paper, metal, glass, and ceramic.

‘But what about recycling?’ you might ask. ‘As long as we recycle our plastic, we’re doing the right thing, are we not?’

That’s what I used to believe, but recycling isn’t a sustainable solution mainly due to the fact that the Earth cannot digest plastic. This means that every single piece of plastic ever produced is still here with us today. Until NASA figures out how to transform plastic products into organic baby-food, the plastic that enters into circulation stays in circulation.

That’s a problem.

So what’s the solution?

The solution, my dear friends, is to use less. We have to wean ourselves off plastic. This is just as easy as it sounds. Here is what I did. 

Phase one: I stopped using plastic shopping bags. To me, that was the easiest place to start. Owning beautiful tote bags made this transition super easy. Nothing beats putting my groceries in my Wonder Women tote-bag, or going shopping with the tote-bag I got at the Catlin Moran lecture. Another personal favorite is my tote bag from Highgrove, the royal estate where Princess Diana used to live. My point is this: when you love your tote bag, you use it. When you hate it, you hide it (and end up using plastic bags instead). Invest in good tote bags, people.

Phase two: I decided to stop buying all fruits and vegetables that came wrapped in plastic. OK, I said it was easy, but I struggled with this one. As it turned out, only everything came wrapped in some sort of plastic monstrosity. Why, world, why? Once I dropped the frustration, I noticed the plastic-free options. Mango, melon, pineapple, to name a few. When it comes to things like onions, potatoes, and carrots, I no longer harvest them in the complimentary plastic bags provided by the grocery stores; I throw them straight into my shopping cart where they roll around, happy and free. I mean, seriously, what’s the benefit of putting two onions in a flimsy plastic bag? There isn’t any, so I don’t. You don’t have to either.

Phase three: Since plastic is a fairly recent invention, many of the things that now come with plastic didn’t use to; like olive oil. Phase three was all about choosing the non-plastic alternatives. All my cooking oils now come in glass bottles. Easy! I only buy cans or glass bottles of Coca Cola. Also easy. Mustard and ketchup? Glass bottles! When buying peanut butter, I pick the brand that comes in a glass jar. Same with things like jams, olives, and pesto. For the stuff with no non-plastic alternatives – stuff like yogurt, shampoo, cheese, pasta – I try to be mindful and not overdo it. I know this will never be perfect, but I’m getting better at scoping out the plastic-free alternatives. So can you. 

All these changes might look like a drop in the ocean. I get that. It’s not like I’ve invented solar driven planes or found a healthy alternative to clean water. But when I say to the shopping assistant, ‘No, thank you. I don’t need a bag,’ for that brief moment in time I’m doing the right thing. It’s a statement. It’s a message. It’s insane how happy this makes me.  I might never get the chance to save a child from a burning building or prevent a terrorist attack, but I do get to care for our planet. That’s amazing!  

You! What about you? Where can you cut back? Talk it over with your friends and see what you come up with. One of my friends now always carries a spoon and a fork in her hand bag. ‘I haven’t used disposable cutlery in ages!’ she tells me. ‘ And I hardly ever buy bottled water anymore!’

I know exactly how she feels. 

Whether you feel inspired to do a lot or little, please don’t be afraid to start. Start where you are. You can never know the ripple effects of your actions. Everything counts.

I’ll see you all in a few weeks!

-Inger


Hosted by Inger D. Kenobi, this column is here to answer all your burning questions, big and small, about whatever is on your mind about climate change. Just email askinger@cchallenge.no, and it might be answered in the next column.

Inger D. Kenobi is a life coach and the author of the book, 'How Do I Look? The Year I Stopped Shopping?'

 

How to talk about climate change?

The whole topic of climate change is so complex. The nature of the subject is truly challenging. As much as I like to focus on the encouraging aspects, not a day goes by without newspapers printing sad stories about coral reefs dying and showing us pictures of turtles entangled in plastic.  

How to be a force of positive change in that climate?

Or like one of you readers asked, ‘How do I begin to talk about climate change with my family and friends? Especially those who think it’s not big deal and/or inevitable.’

Short answer, and I say this with love: You don’t.

My worst climate change conversation ever went something like this.

Me: I just think it’s a good idea to get involved and do something, anything, before it’s too late. Climate Denier: Really? Well, I for one don’t think it matters one bit what we do. So what if the sea levels are rising? And so what if the polar bears get extinct? Throughout the history of the world, species have come and gone. Just think of the dinosaurs!
Me:  ….eh…..*Brain senses conflict and powers down. Self-preservation mode activated. I stand up and my legs led me out of the room.

The reason conversations like these are so frustrating, is because they are tainted with competition and judgment. The good people (me!) look down on those ignorant beings who don’t do their part. And likewise, those who don’t give a hoot about climate change look down on the idiotic people (me?) who waste their time thinking they can make a difference.

In my fantasy world, I’m as wise as Margaret Atwood, as funny as Amy Poehler, and as vulnerable and courageous as Brené Brown. When talking with a fellow human being who disagrees with me, I stay totally grounded and say something really cool.

In real life - in sharp contrast - I feel like I’ve been struck over the head and I stumble and falter.   

How to work around that?

I’ve come to the conclusion that when it comes to environmental issues, actions speak louder than words. Show, don’t tell.

This viewpoint can be hard to accept, partly because there is this unspoken rule that those of us who feel compelled to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle immediately become responsible for how other people act. Activists are leaders. Right? Before we know it, we spend more time worrying about what the others are doing (or what they are not doing) than dealing with the important issues at hand.   

But, having said that, let me try to answer this question for real. How to talk about climate change?

I think the planet is great, I love it, and I’m here to say I’m good at caring for it. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve reduced my plastic consumption in half, and I’m not afraid to talk about it. In fact, even if someone squinted their eyes, put their hands on their hips, and said in a finger-pointing tone, ‘What’s the point of that? You’re wasting your time! The damage is already done,’ I would immediately respond:

That might be true. Or it might not. But even if I can’t stop the ice caps from melting, I can at least stop myself from making it worse. Plus, I like the idea of doing my part. It might not be a lot, but it’s something – and for me it is a lot of fun. And even if I’m wrong about this, even if all my efforts turn out to be a big waste of time, it’s a chance I’m willing to take. I have nothing to lose here.

Zing!

Yeah, right! That would never happen. My brain would probably freeze and prevent me from stringing two sentences together.

Sigh.

In any case, what I want to leave you with is this.

When talking to other people about climate change, forget about defending yourself, explaining yourself, or trying to convince the other person that you’re right and they’re wrong. Simply share why you think it’s important. That’s it. Keep it simple. 

Trying to bring them over to your side will only create more friction and resistance. It’s also annoying, not to mention boring.

Share your thoughts, your curiosity, let them in on how this has lead you down a path of new discoveries. Tell them how this has made you think about things in new ways, and how you love learning about this world we live in, and how fun it is to do participate in something that is bigger than yourself.

Be passionate. Don’t judge. Don’t put people off. Don’t shame. Admit that you don’t know everything, but so what? It’s not about being an expert, it’s about being inspired into action.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Yes, I’ll for sure try this tactic next time.  

Best of luck everyone, and I’ll see you all in a few weeks!

-Inger, xoxo

 

PS: If no one asks you about your green endeavours, and if this makes you feel like no one is paying attention to all the good work you’re doing, keep going. Plant your flowers and watch them grow. And don’t be scared to start a conversation about it!

PPS: If you’re surrounded by climate deniers, either at work or at home, and it’s wearing you down, why not look for inspiration on social media? Connecting with like-minded people is always a good idea. Check out the cCHALLENGE Facebook page. We would love have your onboard!

PPPS: If you’re inspired to do something, but doing it alone feels …lonely, how about teaming up with just one other person? You’re allowed to start small. In fact, I encourage it. My best-friend and I have a new ‘no more plastic straws’ alliance. It’s like our own private club. I like it!  


Hosted by Inger D. Kenobi, this column is here to answer all your burning questions, big and small, about whatever is on your mind about climate change. Just email askinger@cchallenge.no, and it might be answered in the next column.

Inger D. Kenobi is a life coach and the author of the book, 'How Do I Look? The Year I Stopped Shopping?'

What does climate change have to do with me?

I used to think that the best strategy for dealing with climate change was to keep it at a safe distance. My own happy life over here, thank you very much, and all the other depressing stuff over there. A clear line. Order. No interfering. That was the plan.

I can understand why I felt that way. Climate change is like an entire kingdom filled with conflicting opinions, doomsday predictions, voices, and frustrated people. Venturing into that realm reeks of trouble, like stepping over to the wrong side of the tracks. What would be the point of that?

Also, if I suddenly took a keen interest in tar sands and rising sea levels, where would it end? What would happen to me?  What would happen to Fun-Loving Inger, Book Store Inger, and Movies Inger? I'll tell you what would happen. Climate Change Inger would take over the entire scene and bring all the other Ingers down, like an annoying, out of control house guest. I honestly feared that if I allowed anything bigger than a commitment to recycling to infiltrate my world, my life as I knew it would be over.

Not that I was a totally lame. Correct. I did my part, sometimes. Also correct.

And in my defense, wasn't there a ton of other people out there, talented people, sustainable magicians, who were dying to come up with green solutions? If they were so gung-ho about saving the rainforest, who was I to stand in their way? Plus, I had a lot of other things to think about. 'Why should I have to do everything?' I thought, winningly.

So there!

Pause.

Was I being close minded? Maybe. Maybe operating from a place of maximum denial wasn't such a great plan. Hmmm. Maybe I was going about it all wrong. Maybe there was another way.

In enters cCHALLENGE.

The trick when dealing with climate change is to stop believing that you have to do everything. You don't. Start where you're at. Find something that drives you. Think outside the box. Ask questions. Experiment. That's what cCHALLENGE is all about. It's a low-key, relaxed, and fresh approach to saving the planet. And best of all, it's only for thirty days. Here we choose our own missions and we share our experiences. Everyone is welcome.

That's empowering.

Thinking that only scientists, experts, or hippies can save the planet is an outdated idea, like faded clothes on an old mannequin. I see that now. Now I want to do my part. To tell you the truth, I'm actually quite excited about it. I'm ALL IN.

Every morning I stroll over to my kitchen window and look at the gorgeous view. I really, really like this planet, and I'm grateful that I get to protect it in a way that feels meaningful to me. Thank you cCHALLENGE. Participating in the cCHALLENGE is almost like writing a little love note from me to Mother Earth. She needs all the love she can get.

That's all for now. I just wanted to say HI and get this column up and running. We'll get to know each other more as the weeks move along.

I hope every remaining hour of this week is sweet and beautiful. Take a walk. Call a friend. Read a book. Go dancing. Save the rain forest. The options are endless.

Enjoy!

Until next time, Inger


Hosted by Inger D. Kenobi, this column is here to answer all your burning questions, big and small, about whatever is on your mind about climate change. Just email askinger@cchallenge.no, and it might be answered in the next column.

Inger D. Kenobi is a life coach and the author of the book, 'How Do I Look? The Year I Stopped Shopping?'

The art of choosing

By Inger Dybvig Kenobi

The cCHALLENGE is about finding solutions to one of the most overwhelming challenges we’ve ever had to face in the history of our planet, namely climate change. These two words are often tossed around in political speeches and can be heard on the evening news, and since it’s never connected to any good news, most of us tune out and look the other way. 

But what if you stopped for a second and paid attention? What if it didn’t have to feel so overwhelming and hopeless? Better yet, what if you could do something about it, give it a shot, no strings attached? And what if it was only for thirty days?

Pick Your Challenge
That’s where cCHALLENGE enters the picture, and believe me when I say that it’s a stroke of genius. Unlike other environmental programs out there, this one puts you in the driver’s seat. Here you pick the challenge, you set the tone, and it’s only for thirty days. This is your chance to think outside the box, go off script, break the routine, and try something on for size. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about your challenge being ‘good’ or politically correct. Anything goes.

For instance, if taking up recycling feels like a cruel and unusual punishment to you, skip that one. And, if turning vegan feels as unnatural to you as inviting your in-laws to a nudist beach vacation, then don’t. But if you’re reading this, chances are you want to do something, so get creative. Find something you’re passionate about and commit to it for thirty days.

Back in January, 2016, my challenge was: Spend an hour outside in nature everyday.

Know Your Why
Once you’ve picked your challenge, back it up with a compelling reason. So if your challenge is, ‘I want to bike to work everyday,’ tap into why this is important to you. Is it because you want to reduce your carbon footprint? Or do you want to be a good example for your kids? Maybe you just want to be more outside, like me? Whatever your reason(s), once you make it personal, fun, and meaningful, it will give you the power of focus, the power of pulling you in the right direction, and the power to infuse you with the energy and willpower you need to keep going when the going gets though. In short, when you find your WHY, you become unstoppable.

 My WHY was: I want to connect more with nature so that I can feel a part of it, not just observe it from a distance. Also, the whole point of doing anything related to climate change is to save the planet, so I want to enjoy its beauty while there is still something to enjoy.

Thinking about this made me feel like a real explorer, like Roald Amundsen’s long lost daughter. I was all fired up and ready to go. 

Experiment and Review
On the first day of my challenge I stepped outside in my white winter coat and took a deep, long breath. Right then and there I remembered that I don’t like to be outside when it’s cold. In fact, I hate it. I should have done this challenge in June, or gone to Hawaii or something! My adventurous spirit took a nose dive, but I wasn’t about to give up. I pulled myself together and went on a walk. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was the longest and most miserable walk of my life.

In a perfect world, everything will always go according to plan, but when it doesn’t, it helps have a few good questions up your sleeve. Questions like: What will make this better? Or better yet: How can I make this more fun? What haven’t I tried yet? Then do that.

The cCHALLENGE is not about being perfect, but about being willing to play, experiment and review. Get back in there and don’t give up.

In my case, I quickly learnt that if I wanted a glimmer of daylight and warmth, I had to stop putting my walks off until the end of the day. I also discovered that bringing a flask of piping hot coffee really helped. Stuff like that. With the initial snags out of the way, the real adventure could begin. I wandered into the forest and around the lakes. I braved the weather and stopped looking at my watch. Discovering new and hidden pathways was a source of great joy, and I loved spending time in wide open spaces. The days went by, the world kept spinning, and I revelled in this new sense of belonging and inner peace.

Find Your Tribe
The American author Jim Rohn is famous for saying, ‘You become like the five people you spend the most time with.’ Whether this is the case or not, it’s no secret that when embarking on something new, it helps to surround yourself with like minded people. They allow you to experiment, make mistakes, have fun, learn, grow, feel inspired, feel lost, all at the same time. Like minded people will have your back and lift you higher.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed connecting with my fellow cCHALLENGERS. It was all online – emails, blogs, Facebook – but the support and camaraderie was heartfelt and real. Despite the distance in time and space, we were in this together.

Midway through my challenge I also began to seek out articles about the benefits of being outside in nature (there are countless), I read about the secret lives of trees (it’s all in the roots), and I felt inspired to join The Woodland Trust and WWF (who knew you could adopt a pride of lions?).

What’s Next?
What happens when your thirty days are up? Do you continue? Do you stop? Do you pick a brand new challenge? There is absolutely no pressure to keep it up forever and ever, however, something always leads to something else, so who knows what’s next for you.

In my case, I’m no longer outside everyday, but I’ve just returned from the Highlands where I had a hell of a time hiking up mountains, wading through rivers, and befriending the local stags. Suddenly these things are on my radar. Suddenly I’m in love with the great outdoors. 

Not that I’m a totally changed person, I’m still me, but whether or not the cCHALLENGE changed me into some kind of Shakespearian woodland creature is beside the point. The point is that I’ve gone from feeling hopeless about climate change to feeling inspired to do my part. That all important shift is not something you can expect people to understand, you have to experience it, which is why cCHALLENGE is such a gift. It hands you the reins and let your experience the ripple-effects of change first hand.

Ready to start?
I hope you walk away from reading this article with a clear understanding that you don’t have to be of Mother Teresa calibre to make a real difference in this world. Climate change doesn’t care about your status, race, gender, age, income, or background. It doesn’t care if you work for Greenpeace or are an environmental floater that weaves in and out of paying attention. It takes all kinds. Everything helps. With that in mind, the cCHALLENGE is a brilliant landing pad (or maybe launching pad is a better word) for all of us to approach climate change with fresh eyes and try something new.

So what will it be? What will be your challenge? Will you grow an herb garden in your bathtub? Will you not waste any food? Will you take a 30-day break from social media? Do you feel drawn to making your own clothes? Do you want to experiment with a vegetarian diet for thirty days? How about volunteering at your local organic farm? Maybe you will do one good deed a day?

Whatever you choose, I have a feeling you’ll pick something truly amazing.

Good luck, and keep us posted!

This article is also published in Norwegian in Harvest magazine.

The Future is Now

TheFutureIsNow.jpg

Wow. We had temperatures of 8°C (46°F) in Oslo on December 31, 2016. And rain. 2016 is very likely to be the warmest year on record. Again.  It’s as if nature wanted to provide us with a final wake-up call before moving into 2017. This should be thought-provoking. Or action provoking. But is it? And if it is, what exactly are those thoughts? And where are the actions?

What were we thinking?
My favorite exam question for undergraduate students in my Environment and Society course is “what were we thinking?” I often ask them to write a letter to someone in the future to explain the dominant beliefs, values and worldviews influencing how we relate to the environment – and to discuss how these were changing, or what was holding them in place. Who or what was thought to have the power to create change? Or I may ask them to place themselves in 2050 and look back and reflect on the discourses, paradigms or thought patterns that created whatever situation they might be experiencing. The answers are usually very insightful, and many of them reveal an impressive understanding of social change. They make me realize that the thinking about climate change is actually changing, at least compared to when I was a student.

What was I thinking when I was a student? In the hot summer of 1988, I was just starting graduate school at the University of Wisconsin.  I was both concerned and curious when I read about James Hansen’s testimony in front of a U.S. Congressional committee, where he said that it was 99 percent certain that the observed warming trend was not just natural variability, but caused by increases of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. I wanted to learn all that I could about climate change and its implications for society. But in all honesty, I did not really expect to see or experience the impacts in my lifetime.  It was too distant and abstract.

Almost 30 years later, climate change is no longer distant and abstract. It is here, it is clear, and we have the opportunity to do something about it. The future is now. This means that it’s time to ask different questions and take different approaches. For example, “How can we transform society rapidly to avoid dangerous climate change, and do so in ways that are equitable, ethical and sustainable?”  Unfortunately, we are also starting to ask “How do we deal with the human, non-human, or cultural losses? (see article by Barnett et al. 2016). My own research (AdaptationCONNECTS) and thinking is now focused on how to successfully adapt to the very idea that we are responsible to the future, and that the future is here and now, not off in some abstract, distant time.

Principled Outrage
But over the years, my concern and curiosity about climate change have transformed into something more potent and powerful – a commitment to oneness. It is a recognition that integrated approaches work better than fragmented ones, and that gentle actions can be stronger than forceful ones. This doesn’t mean sitting back and doing nothing, waiting for change to just happen. In fact, more and more people are responding to climate change from a position of what Dr. Monica Sharma calls “principled outrage.” Principled outrage is not an emotion, but a space from which people are called to act on behalf of the universal principles for which they stand, whether it is equity, justice or oneness. We are starting to see it everywhere, all over the world. And just in time.

Principled outrage is different than anger, which can often be (self) destructive. From a space of principled outrage, climate change is not just another cause, but an opportunity to act with integrity. It is not just about “fixing the climate problem” – it is also about addressing the deeper, underlying drivers of climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty, and injustice, which include the mindsets that perpetuate a fragmented view of the world, and a view that treats many humans and non-humans as if they simply do not matter. Principled outrage does not mean acting against others; it means taking a stand for what really matters.

What’s missing?
To engage with climate change from a space of principled outrage, where do we begin? We begin by identifying places where things seem to be stuck or breaking down.  For example, the conversations about climate change solutions seem to be in a deep rut. Researchers and politicians point again and again to people’s behaviors and lifestyles as the culprits that need to be transformed. This makes sense, since “human activities” contribute to climate change. But it is not working! Nobody wants to be changed, period. Furthermore, this approach ignores the norms, rules, regulations, incentives, and interests that strive to maintain “behavior as usual,” or even work to actively promote lifestyles that are anything but sustainable. What’s missing are the strategies and the stories that connect with people and make them the heroes. The stories that allow people to be the protagonists, rather than merely objects that need to be changed. After decades of trying to engage people with solutions to climate change, it is time to engage people as the solutions to climate change. In other words, to recognize people as agents of change, rather than as agents to be changed.

Take the cCHALLENGE!
To shift conversation about climate change solutions, we are inviting everyone to make one small change for 30 days through cCHALLENGE. This is an experiment with change where participants commit to a change, reflect on the experience, then share the stories and insights with family, friends, colleagues, and strangers. This includes not only the victories and successes, but also the frustrations and well-meaning interventions that can sabotage change. 

Experimenting with one small change for a limited period of time provides an experience of how change happens, and it becomes easier to see the connections between behaviors and the larger social context. It helps us recognize that we actually have more power than we think. In fact, through actions and conversations, we often influence and inspire others to reflect and consider what they might change.  Conversations that generate action are important, since actions generate results.  And if there is anything that we need right now, in 2017, it is results. I was reminded of this on December 31, 2016, when it was 8°C in Oslo.

More perspectives from Karen at the cCHANGE site.

How hard can it be to change a habit?

This just in! In the latest edition of A-Magasinet Aftenposten, cCHALLENGE (and the science behind it) is featured in a beautiful article written by journalist Anette Aasheim. Photos are by Tom Kolstad.

By reaching thousands of new readers with the message that they are the real solution to climate change, the fight for a sustainable future just got a lot more powerful!

Focusing on the change part of climate change, the article peeks behind the curtain of what makes change challenging. The idea is that once you know what you're dealing with, you can make the necessary adjustments and keep going. cCHALLENGE is not about quick fixes, but aboutexperimenting with transformation in a smart and engaging way. Once you see the affects of this in our own life, you rediscover the joy of being a game changer.

It all began in 2010, at the University of Oslo, Norway, where Professor Karen O´Brien wanted her students to experience the power of change, not just read about it in dry text-books. The results were astonishing, and so cCHALLENGE was born and immediately rolled out to..well, everyone!  Now, six years later, models, politicians, students, CEOs, activists, and stay-at-home moms are just some of the people who have participated in the cCHALLENGE program. It truly is designed for everyone, regardless of life situation, age, or background.

Want to learn more? Read the full article in the A-Magasinet article (behind a paywall and in Norwegian).

Featured by Future Earth

Back in October 2016 cCHALLENGE was even featured in a Future Earth blog post. If you're new to Future Earth, you should know it's a renowned 10-year global research initiative providing the knowledge and support to accelerate our transformations to a sustainable world. The initiative spans more than 60.000 scientists.

Their cCHALLENGE post was part of a series featuring stories about the creative ways non-scientists are getting involved in sustainability research. The red thread running through all these posts were connections: connections to self, connections to other, and connections to place, illustration how relationships are key when working with sustainable solutions.

With the cCHALLENGE post, the they also emphasized how our tools and programs help

people develop a bran new perspective on change, giving the reader a brilliant introduction to both the science behind cCHALLENGE and how it works in reality.

Read the full article here.

Hits PechaKucha

Want to meet a real flesh and blood cCHALLENGE-er? We give you Milda! Back in April, 2016,  Milda spoke at a PechaKucha event in Oslo about her 30-day challenge. Can you guess what her challenge was? Her challenge was to limit her spending to 50 kroner a day, travel and food included. You know this couldn't have been easy! In Oslo, a bus ticket alone costs 32 kroner; a cup of coffee sets you back 38 kroner; and a single movie ticket is shocking 110 kroner (you can forget about the popcorn).

In her own eloquent words, Milda talkes about how the cCHALLENGE forced her to confront the little voice in her head that kept telling her that she needed this and that. It also made her think about what it is she really needs and values. By the end of the 30 day period, Milda was looking at money and consumption in a bran new way.

So would you.

Anyone who experiments with one deliberate change, even if it's just for 30 days, will gain insights on change and transformation on a personal, social, and cultural level.You will also start to wake up to the fact that the power for change lies within every single one of us. No exception.

See the PechaKucha presentation.