Walden Hyde Sustainability Challenge

Just like most everyone else this time of year, we’re feeling full of good intentions for 2013.

But we’re not thinking about joining a new gym or cutting out morning donuts. Instead, each of us here at Walden Hyde is going to try out a new sustainability-related habit for the new year.

So just how long does it take to form a good habit or break a bad one? Since the 1960s, thanks to the questionable wisdom of plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz, the idea has persisted that 21 days (or 18 or 28, depending on the source) is all you need. A 2009 study by University College London psychologist Phillippa Lally, among others, says that’s hogwash.

So we’re taking up the challenge. For the next 21 days, each of us will commit to new habits and keep you posted on just how long it takes for us to succeed (…or fail).



Lucia and her family are going meatless twice a week. Lucia loves to cook and often chooses vegetarian options for her family, but she’s never kept track of meat vs. vegetarian meals in her household. She’s taking this challenge to test whether her family can consistently forgo meat two days a week.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the meat industry creates approximately one-fifth of manmade greenhouse gas emissions worldwide (far more than transportation). It takes around 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef. And fossil fuels? Each calorie of beef takes 40 calories of fossil fuel to produce, while each calorie of vegetable protein uses only 2.2 calories.

Blair & Robb

Reusable Cups

Walden Hyde is across the street from
Ozo, one of our favorite local coffee shops. During our multiple daily coffee runs, we’re pretty good about bringing our own mugs, but sometimes we forget. Blair is going to be vigilant about bringing a reusable mug to the coffee shop, and Robb is going to bring both his coffee pint glass and a homemade cup sleeve with him.
Approximately 14 billion cups of coffee are served in single-use cups and coffee sleeves. The sleeves alone add up to 2.8 billion pounds of trash or cardboard recycling every year.


Steph Compost

Stephanie is going to be our office compost girl. We’re lucky that the City of Boulder makes composting so easy—many homes have curbside compost pick-up for kitchen scraps, there are several public compost bins downtown, and our office has a dumpster dedicated to food waste behind our office.

But, like most people, it’s often the little barriers that stop us from doing the right thing. Because we don’t have a dedicated bin in our office, we often resort to throwing banana peels and apple cores in the regular trash. We’re going to buy a compost bin and invite our office neighbors to throw their compostables in with ours. Steph is going to empty it to see how much time it takes to make it feasible.

Almost 20% of Boulder County’s waste stream is plant trimmings and scraps from fruits and vegetables. By taking advantage of Boulder’s programs, we can divert this waste from going into the landfill.



Elizabeth is going to only drive to work two days a week. During warmer months, most of us ride bicycles or take the bus to work instead of driving. But when the temperatures dip and the days get shorter, we find ourselves driving more than we’d prefer.
Burning one gallon of gas produces between 14 and 20 pounds of carbon dioxide. Over a year, an average American driver will produce approximately 3.4 tons of CO2. Carpooling, using public transit, and cycling or walking are all ways to reduce this impact.


To-go containers

Katie is going to either bring her lunch to work or bring reusable containers to reduce packaging and save for leftovers.
Getting quick food to-go generates more than 1.8 million tons of packaging waste in the US each year. Preparing food at home; eating with actual silverware and plates; and/or bringing reusable “doggie bags” when eating at restaurants can save packaging and food waste.

We’ll keep you posted about our progress and stories along the way!

Meatless Monday
Helping Haven
Starbucks Responsibility
Boulder County Composting
Stewart Marion: Carbon Footprint
Easy Lunchboxes
Mother Jones Doggie Bag
Dine Green Restaurant Guide

Read more about the 21-day conversation here:
Psychology Today
The Guardian


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