Try the 10 Week Challenge

Led by Eugenie Silverthorne and Katy Wardlaw

      “Hope is an obligation” Wendall Barry, poet, naturalist

Our Challenge is the product of a premise and a crisis, with a legion of women as Godmothers. The premise is the idea that gardeners are optimists at heart: why else would we plant, then replant, looking for more sun, or less, bother about soil, fret over the weather (as if we had a say on that)? The crisis is Climate Change and recognizing it as an escalating, existential threat is more crucial today than ever. The Godmothers are the intrepid women who early on embodied good stewardship and made the Garden Club of America an effective advocacy power-house. We have a history of proactive work to live up to and an urgent obligation to promote change ourselves, in short, to seed hope.

How it works: While the idea percolated over winter, the NAL Meetings encouraged it, and Katy and I put our heads together to shape it over breakfast the final day. We plan to post each challenge the week before and provide supporting articles for you.

Weekly Challenges:
#1:   Monitor how you use water & modify your daily water consumption [pdf]
#2:   Use eco-friendly detergent, dish soap, or make your own natural products [pdf]
#3:   Reduce your trash by half and start a compost [pdf]
#4:   Enjoy 2+ meals from local farm produce & eliminate meat 2 x a week [pdf]
#5:   Use cloth (bags, napkins) over plastic & paper; curb that paper towel habit [pdf]
#6:   Silence your dryer for a week [pdf]
#7:   Create a rain garden [pdf]
#8:   Use LED bulbs & ban Energy Vampires by turning off passive computers [pdf]
#9:   If your car gets 24 mpg or less, look into viable alternates [pdf]
#10: Plant a tree or two or shrubs as an end of summer gift [pdf]

Framework: To start, we recommend the GCA’s Position Paper, CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION, and 2 brief articles:
1. “The Climate Crisis Explained in 10 Charts” (2019, The Guardian)
2. “Summers Are Growing Longer Due to Climate Change While Winters Are Dramatically Shorter” (Brian Brettscheneider, 2020, The Washington Post).

Goals: This Challenge covers 4 areas to conserve natural resources and promote cleaner practices at home; water, chemicals, energy, greening. It’s basic, won’t take time, and above all encourages experimenting with what works for your household. A few may be more challenging (if you live, as I do, with the Paper Towel King) while others may be a breeze. And it’s meant to be a way of sharing ideas and tips. If this is routine for those practicing eco-friendly living, great—you can be coaches–but for others, it’s meant to offer fresh ideas and a smarter way of living. As Doug Tallamy writes in “Nature’s Best Hope,” each of us needs to become responsible guardians (or Godmothers), there is no time left to be merely bystanders. Come join us,
Katy and Eugenie

Introductory Readings

2 thoughts on “Try the 10 Week Challenge

  1. Just read week 3 closely. What a stunning amount of fabulous information and good ideas. I am so, so impressed by the generosity you and Eugenie are offering by outlining these challenge areas so beautifully. And yogurt containers to Keene! Who knew! I’d been sending mine to Massachusetts with our daughter.


  2. 1. We use water sparingly.
    2. We do not use eco-friendly soap.
    3. We are careful with our trash and recycle whenever possible.
    4.Because of COVID19 we do not go to local farmers. We have done in the past and will do in the future.
    5. We use cloth napkins, dish towels, etc.
    6. We hang out our clothes on the line in warm weather except for towels.
    7. We do not have a rain garden. However, we get all our water for outdoor plants in a barrel from the roof.
    8. We do use LED light bulbs.
    9. We do not know about the car.
    10. I have planted so many shrubs in the last 10 years that my husband won’t let me plant more!


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