The DOT (Do One Thing) Challenge

The Do One Thing ChallengeWe all want to feel like we’re making a difference, but between earning a living, raising kids, staying in shape, nurturing relationships, and finding a little time for ourselves, well, it’s pretty clear that philanthropy is going to end up taking a back seat.

Side note: Laura Venderkam’s TED talk on how to regain control of your free time is a must watch. Especially at this time of year when we’re in the throws of setting lofty goals for ourselves.

The reason for this isn’t because we don’t have enough time. Let me explain.

Yes, we’re all busy. Those of you with kids even more so. But here’s the thing. The real reason most of us don’t do so well in the philanthropy department is because we believe that unless we can dedicate our entire life to a cause like Mother Teresa or Mahatma Gandhi did, we won’t be able to make a difference. After all, if we can’t single-handedly re-freeze those melting ice caps, then why bother, right?

What if We All Did One Thing?

Sporty and I are huge advocates of the ‘do what you can’ school of thought. Hence the name: Mostly Mindful. We believe that if everyone simply tried their best to be more mindful, together we can effect real and lasting change. Check out our about page to find out more.

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. ―Edward Everett Hale

Normal is Over

Normal is Over

During the holidays we watched a documentary called Normal Is Over. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it’s not an easy watch. It does, however, offer an in-depth look at the state of our planet.

Directed by Renée Scheltema, the movie covers a number of pertinent issues, including species extinction, climate change, and industrial control of our food production.

Sporty thought it a little too doomsday and for the most part I agree, however I do think it’s still worth watching. If for no other reason than to be reminded that there’s work to be done and it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get busy.

No Impact Man

No Impact Man

Feeling a little down in the dumps after watching Normal is Over, we decided to look for something a little less intense to watch. Colin Beavan aka No Impact Man decided to find out what it it would really take to live eco-effectively.

That in itself would have been challenge enough, however Colin embarked on his journey while living in New York with his still in nappies daughter and shopaholic wife. To her credit, Colin’s wife proved to be a more than willing participant, which, given the parameters of the experiment, was no small gesture.

For a year the small family adjusted their lifestyle so that they’d make zero impact on the environment. Changes included swearing off plastic and toxins, buying only local and organic produce, using cloth nappies, and making their own cleaning products. But wait, it gets even more challenging.

They started bicycling everywhere instead of using taxis or public transport, they switched off their electricity, stopped using toilet paper and bought a worm farm. Talk about taking it on the chin for Mother Earth! Not that she doesn’t deserve it, mind you. But still, that’s some serious commitment.

The movie offers an honest and at times amusing look at how the changes affected the couple’s lives, their quality of life, and their relationship. Sporty and I both loved it and highly recommend that you check it out.

How Can We Make Less of an Impact?

Watching these two movies got us thinking. We’re pretty good when it comes to slow living (aka living mindfully), but there are a lot of areas where we could still up our game.

For one thing, we eat a lot of snacks that are packaged in non-recyclable wrappers. A lot of them are also imported, making their footprint even more Yeti-like.

We’d already made up our minds to introduce some significant changes this year, but when we saw what our friend, Braam, was planning, we knew there was no way we could back out.

The DOT (Do One Thing) Challenge

The DOT Challenge

Braam Malherbe and Clyde Barendse, extreme adventurers both, set off for Rio yesterday afternoon. The pair are taking part in the Cape to Rio yacht race, a daunting slog of an event that’s widely regarded as one of the toughest of its kind in the world.

These guys aren’t doing it in a yacht however, because, well, how boring would that be? Instead, Braam and Clyde are rowing the 6700 kilometers. Yes, you read that right, they’re rowing to Rio. Moreover, they’re doing so without any support whatsoever. All of this in a bid to highlight the importance of protecting the earth and its biodiversity.

The DOT Challenge

The DOT Challenge is an invitation for all 7.2 billion humans to participate in saving our planet. The website has plenty of information and tips on how to make a difference. From switching off the tap when you brush your teeth, swearing off plastic straws and not chewing gum, opportunities to effect change in your day-to-day life abound.

Saving the planet may seem like a daunting task, but if we all start with one small, environmentally friendly act, we can collectively make a huge difference!

Download the DOT Challenge app and help spread the word online by using the hashtags: #CapeToRioRow and #DOTchallenge

As Braam says, if we all just do one thing, that’s 7,2 billion DOTs.

Sporty and I have committed to a few DOTs in support of Braam and Clyde’s epic row across the icy Atlantic.

Goodbye Non-Recyclable Packaging

We’re eschewing anything that comes in non-recyclable packaging. For starters this means cutting out pretty much all of our favourite snacks and sweets. Egads! Apart from date balls from The Hungry Herbivore and fresh dates from Woolworths, there’s not really anything we can have.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we won’t keep trying. For starters, we’ll be reaching out to our favourite local snack producers to find out if they’ll consider selling us unpackaged snacks. Also, it’s a good opportunity to put Blendobi through his paces and make our own snacks.

There are, however, some food items that we cannot find in recyclable packaging, such as organic rolled oats and nutritional yeast flakes. In these instances, we’ll make a point of doing a beach or mountain clean-up to offset the cost of the plastic.

Sporty ~ I’ll definitely participate for nutri yeast flakes, but for oats? I think not.

Sayonara Palm Oil

Palm Oil Challenge

This rule was already in place, but I’ll admit, we got a teensy bit slack over the holidays. It’s now back in full force. If a product contains palm oil, we will not eat it. End of story. The palm oil industry has infiltrated the food industry to such an extent that it’s almost impossible to find anything edible that doesn’t contain it.

The industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced, as the land and forests must be cleared for the development of the oil palm plantations. —Say No to Palm Oil

Buying Local is Lekker

Oranjezicht City Farm Market

Right now we’re locked into a deal with our local supermarket chain, which means we have to buy the majority of our fresh produce from them. We’re meeting with our financial adviser in the next couple of weeks to see about extricating ourselves.

When we’ve done that we’ll be able to buy our fruit and vegetables from the Oranjezicht City Farm Market instead. Here, the produce is largely unpackaged or packaged in brown paper bags. Best of all, we’ll be supporting local farmers, as opposed to big industry.

The ultimate goal is to consume only what is produced or grown within South Africa’s borders. Coupled with our no non-recyclable packaging rule, this could well prove to be our biggest urban hippie challenge yet. We’ll keep you posted on that front, but it’ll likely only happen in a couple of months from now. 

We’re phasing in these changes slowly, so as to avoid disrupting the status quo all at once. Phase I involves coming to terms with the loss of all our favourite sweets and snacks. Since Phase II could very well herald the disappearance of coffee from our lives, well, you can imagine our trepidation.

What about you? Will you download the DOT Challenge app and commit to making some changes, however small, in your own life? Let us know in the comments. 

[Tweet “”Your DOT might just inspire someone else to do one thing.” —Braam Malherbe”]

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  1. Well, that’s a wakeup call! Some years ago I decided to do various “planet saving” things, which I still do and have taken them into my unconsciousness so that I no longer think about them. Such as being mindful about what clothes I bought, not buying clothes that would need dry cleaning, deciding not to dye my hair, buying “cruelty free” products, not wearing perfume, cutting down on battery use etc., etc. But other things get tried and then tend to get forgotten so husband and I are going to have an “audit” to see how we can up our game a bit (we throw out way too much rubbish I’m afraid).

    One thing, you say that you would like to limit your food consumption to food grown in South Africa. You must presumably get imported food from other African countries around you. Often very poor countries and these exports must help their growth? I came across this dilemma (I live in the UK) because I used to ignore fresh produce flown in from various countries (like Kenya for example) because I thought it was crazy in terms of air miles, transport costs etc. and that poorer countries like Kenya should concentrate on feeding their own people. However, I then read that farmers in these countries were encouraged to set up businesses aiming at exporting food and flowers and this was bringing money into the country and providing jobs. So now I am confused, buy or not to buy? Do other readers have any thoughts to share about what they do? I want to be supportive but I don’t want my practices to help trash the planet. Trying to live ethically can be a bit of a minefield at times.

    1. Hi Susan,
      I think an audit is a great idea. Our intentions are always noble but one does tend to get lost in the grind of everyday busy-ness and looks for convenience when preparing and consuming.
      I have to admit, it has proven to be quite a challenge so far and it is only 1 week in ? I really miss all the sweeties we used to snack on most.
      We have agreed that if there are food items we cannot do without and are not able to get in recyclable packaging that we collect a bag of rubbish off our beaches or surrounding areas to off-set that indiscretion. Examples of these are Nutri Yeast Flakes, Tempeh, Essene Bread and Peanut Butter. (all the peanut butter jars have a plastic seal around the lid ;( We are, however in the process of figuring out how to make our own.
      We have also approached some of the suppliers to check if we can come and collect product with our own containers but so far no luck.
      In response to your local food consumption question, we have also discussed this at length and have since come to the conclusion that we will stick to what is grown on the continent so as to further contribute to the growth of sustainable farming in Africa.
      Thanks so much for your interesting insights and chat again soon.

      1. Hi Sporty, hi Ang, OK, well so far this “being more mindful” thing has cost me £14.99 in the shape of a very nice thermos, non leak mug. Because I am going to cut out “one use” packaging as much as possible and stop buying water when I am on the move. So this should work in the car (take my own water or tea), and work on our days out (chuck it in my day bag). It will also help me cut down on mindless coffee in disposable cups whilst on the move – not the coffee so much as the milk and sugar that go with it. I don’t have dairy milk or sugar with any other drink. We plan to look into buying items like cheese and cold meat from the deli counter to see if the packaging is less – it should be. We already try and buy items like tomatoes from our local deli – packaged in a paper bag (and they are locally produced as well) so we just need to extend this and be more mindful all round about what we bring into the house. We want to make a real effort to reduce the amount of packaging (especially non-recyclable) that comes into the house. I have been guiltily aware for some time that we produce way too much for one couple. So we shall see how we go! Watch this space! How are you both getting on?

        1. Hey Susan, yay for thermos!
          We discussed that very thing this weekend as those take-away coffee cups that are printed with laminate ink are unfortunately not recyclable. I always thought anything made out of paper was, but alas!
          Sounds like you got some good ideas and goals to lessen the old footprint. Well done 😉
          We’re doing well, thanks. Learning how to make decent date balls for sweets as all the convenient options are now out of the window. Anything we can eat and is not in packaging is at minimum a bus trip away. No more quick walks to the local supermarket.
          This exercise has certainly got us thinking and made us more aware!

  2. Hi guys
    I’m in awe of your commitment to this!
    In Sweden packaging has to be recyclable. The producer (importer etc) pays for the recycling facilities. This makes it more of a non-issue for me but I still prefer to avoid packaging.
    Perhaps you could take action somehow to make some changes in the recycling opportunities in SA?
    I’m lobbying for a ban on plastic bags and we’re (slowly) getting there. At least the plastic bags you get at the grocery stores are bio-degradable.
    I’m looking forward to reading more about your endeavors.

    1. Hi Nellie,

      First, thanks for stopping by (all the way from Sweden, no less!).Yip, we’re only just grasping the full implication of our decision. There’s so much we can no longer have! I love your idea of doing more to lobby for changes…maybe we’ll look at that as soon as we’ve come to terms with the fact that all our favourite snacks are now out of bounds! Ha ha ha. We’ll definitely keep you updated re our progress. 🙂

  3. We live in an age where doing a lot of things at the same time is a good thing. But in reality, doing one thing and doing it with all of your passion is better than trying to do everything.

    In a workday, I make it a point to get a feel of my breath and my self. Then, I just do what I can.

    1. Hi Daikuro,

      Yes, if we all do one small thing at the best of our ability instead of doing many things with less passion then we will surely make a difference for our planet.

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