The Three ACTIONS Project What can one person do to help the environment? At least three things.
Overall, belonging to a CSA, having a worm bin and buying fewer processed foods were very complementary actions. It would have been hard to do one of them without the others. --Megan Hoye
by Megan Hoye
In the summer of 2012, 30 volunteer participants with the Three ACTIONS Project committed to individually adopting three new habits in an effort to collectively lower our impact on the environment. Over the two-month project, we shared our experiential stories and gave each other moral support in adopting new behaviors.
For me, the longest-lasting benefit of the project was the motivation I received by having invested co-participants. I continue to feel a responsibility to the other participants to make behavior changes that result in perceptible environmental benefits.
Action: Worm bin
Purpose: Reduce my food waste Living in an apartment, my options for reducing organic waste are limited. Having the support of the Three ACTIONS community was important for me while I created a worm bin and weathered the hatching of an excessive number of water bugs. Being able to blog about these challenges with others provided extra motivation for me to be patient. Overall, this was my most accomplished action, as I continue to use my worm bin today!
Action: To consume 75 percent nonprocessed foods
Purpose: Reduce the energy footprint of my food I was already purchasing 48 to 50 percent nonprocessed foods (measured by cost), so I figured this was doable. I found the largest motivators for this action to be my upfront investment in CSA (community-supported agriculture) with its abundant and reliable quantity of produce. Having already paid for the CSA share, I was motivated to spend little on food elsewhere, as I worked at using up all of the abundance. Beyond this, I prioritized which processed foods I was most unwilling to give up and I stretched myself to cut out those low on the list.
Buying less processed food automatically reduced my waste. The benefits of reducing the amount of energy needed to produce food is very removed from those consuming the food. I made an effort to notice the personal benefits, such as my decreased frequency of taking out the trash. I averaged 70 percent nonprocessed food consumption.
Overall, 1. belonging to a CSA, 2. having a worm bin and 3. buying fewer processed foods were very complementary actions. It would have been hard to do one of them without the others.
The Three ACTIONS Project's reflective participant process offers multiple learning opportunities for new, long-lasting behavioral changes. It also builds community and reduces one's footprint on the environment. I continue to look at my behavior differently.
Megan Hoye has an M.S. degree in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy, with an additional focus on public engagement and organizational management from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs.