The Challenge

The team at Global Action Plan decided to try 'walking the talk' by making environmental New Year's resolution pledges in January 2017.

In this video, the  team describe what they set out to do.

Adriana's Pledge

Buy from local farmers' market

How she found it:

"I've really enjoyed my pledge. As well as reducing plastic packaging waste from all my produce, I'm glad to be buying produce that hasn't travelled as far as veg bought from the supermarket. Another added benefit of shopping at the farmers' market has been getting there - I've been able to do more exercise as a result!"  

Aoife's Pledge

3 minute shower challenge

How she found it:

"My pledge meant that I reduced my shower time from 10 to 4 minutes! It feels great being more efficient - I never realised how much time I wasted until I started using a shower timer. I now spend the time I've saved on doing things I enjoy, like reading a book or unwinding with a cup of tea.

Since I started this challenge, a friend told me she has become more conscious about how long she spends in the shower and my housemate has also used the timer."

Aoife's tips

  • Get a shower timer! It really helps. If you don't have one, then why not time yourself to be out of the shower before your favourite song ends (as songs are 3-4 minutes long)?
  • Organise your bottles with their lids open before I start my shower. This only took a few seconds to do and I didn’t waste time/water struggling to open a lid or get the last bit out of the shampoo bottle while the water is running.
  • I'll definitely continue to use my shower timer. it's become part of my routine now. I turn on the timer without thinking about it , so when it beeps at 3 minutes I know I need to turn off the tap. I’m usually out of the shower in 4 minutes.

Aoife's Shower Timer

 

Clair's Pledge 

Remember a keepcup

How she found it:

"Generally this went really well over the course of the month, and I kept my KeepCup in my work bag and was able to use it when out and about and on the way to and from work. It was even handy when I went to cafes with china cups, but didn’t have time to finish my coffee. Having my cup with me meant I was happy to decant the rest and take it with me.

The place where it fell down was weekends, where I typically carry a much smaller bag with me, and my KeepCup doesn’t fit in it. This has made me think about my coffee shop choices, and opting for more relaxed places where I can sit and drink, rather than grabbing something to go."


Martyn's Pledge 

Bring a rucksack when shopping

Christine's Pledge

To only eat meat two days per week.

How she found it:

"I resolved to only eat meat two days per week. For a nigh-on daily carnivore, this seemed like a Mount Everest type challenge but it actually turned out to be surprisingly easy (and delicious). The boredom of relying on old favourites such as tuna pasta and halloumi did grate at about day 10 so I turned to recipe books to keep my momentum up - there are an endless supply of them, with inspirational alternatives.

Challenges to my success came in the form of my two children. “I don’t like fish!” , “I need meat. Red meat.” They hadn’t actually signed up to my resolution so it only seemed fair to let them stick more closely to their normal diet and we became a dual-meal family at times. However, as the family groceries shopper supremo and dinner co-ordinator, my will prevailed most of the time and overall the family intake of meat decreased.

I hadn’t expected any personal benefits from taking up this resolution but a month on and I do feel lighter – on my toes and in my pocket. I have also increased my culinary repertoire and, importantly for me, reintroduced my children to the possibilities of vegetables and the delights of fish.

My son, now makes a mean grilled sea bass! We will definitely be enjoying meat-free dinners more frequently.

In terms of numbers, I would normally eat meat five days a week, the majority of those twice a day.
Throughout January, I stuck to only eating meat two days per week and so ate meat only 10 times in total, i.e. what I would normally eat in a week, I consumed in a month.

In terms of my family of three, I reduced their evening meal meat consumption from 5 times a week to 2."

Matt's Pledge 

Two meat-free days per week 

How he found it:

"The first part of the challenge was getting my partner to also commit to my pledge as we'd both be eating the same on each day. But added benefits were that we both contributed ideas to what meals and recipes we should make for the week, and also started making our own Cookbook and vegetarian section. I’m planning to keep going with this and increasing it to three days a week." 

Matt's tips:

  • Plan your meals in advance.
  • Think about when you are going to eat out and plan accordingly 

Recipe - Matt's Cheesy Kale Garlic and Chives with Quorn Chicken

Ingredients:
1 tsp butter
Handful of kale
2 cloves garlic, chopped
200g of Quorn chicken or tofu
½ courgette sliced into small half moons
30g mascarpone
10g grated parmesan
Handful of chives
Handful of parsley

Method

Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat.

Drop in the kale and cook for 4 mins, stirring regularly.

Increase the heat to high.

Then add the Quorn, garlic and courgette and cook for 5 mins. By which time the Quorn should be cooked and the Veg tender.

Pour in 2 tablespoons of water and reduce the heat to Medium and put in the mascarpone.

Stir gently until it all melts and when it’s a creamy sauce add in the grated parmesan.

Remove from the heat and add the chives and parsley.

Recipe - Meat free Meatballs with pasta 
Serves 2

Ingredients
Pre-made meat free meatballs (Quorn or Soya) x 8 balls
Fusilli pasta x 2 mugfulls
1 tsp of coconut oil or olive oil
1 can of tinned chopped tomatoes
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
100g mushrooms (chopped into quarters)
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp oregano
10g grated parmesan
2 tsps Worcester sauce (optional)
1 tsp of chilli flakes

Method
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

While the oven is warming, prepare the spring onions and garlic, and add the pasta into hot water on the hob over medium heat.

Once the oven is heated, put the meat-free meat balls in and cook for 10 minutes on 190. Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a pan on medium heat, once melted add the Garlic and spring onions and stir regularly for 4 mins. Add the chopped mushrooms and continue to stir fry for 3 minutes.

Add the tomato puree and stir so all is covered then add in the chopped tomatoes, oregano and Worcester sauce (optional) and stir so it's even. Leave it to simmer for 3 minutes.

Remove the meat-free meatballs from the oven, drop into the sauce and mix well. Leave to simmer on medium heat for a further 4 minutes stirring regularly.

Check that the pasta is soft, drain and add to the plates, then serve up meat balls and sauce.

Garnish with the grated parmesan and sprinkle the chili flakes.


Quick Chickpea and Mushroom lunch

Ingredients:
1 tbsp coconut oil / olive oil
2 spring onions
8 mushrooms (chestnut or button)– cut into quarters
1 pepper (red or yellow works best)
40g chickpeas
1 avocado, de-stoned, ripe
Juice of 1 lime
1 chilli, finely sliced (optional)
25g feta cheese 
15g pumpkin seeds

Method

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the chopped spring onions & mushrooms and stir fry for 2 minutes.

Add the red pepper and chickpeas and stir-fry for an additional 5 minutes on a medium heat.

Meanwhile, add the avocado flesh to a bowl and squeeze in the juice of the lime with some salt and pepper to season. Mash it all together into a paste.

Serve the chickpea, pepper and mushroom mix to a lunchbox for work or a plate, add the avocado and then sprinkle over the feta and pumpkin seeds to serve.

Vegetarian lasagne

Ingredients:
1 tbsp coconut oil / olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
8 mushrooms (chestnut or button)– cut into quarters
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
500gs of Quorn mince
1 red pepper, finely sliced
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. fresh basil
7 lasagne sheets
1 tsp Worcester sauce (optional)
20g grated cheese – cheddar
5g grated parmesan

For the white sauce:
1 tbsp cornflour
20g of grated cheese – cheddar
200ml of milk


Method

  • Heat the oven to 200 degrees
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and chopped garlic and fry for about four minutes, or until the onions turn golden. Then add Quorn mince, mushroom and pepper and stir fry for about 5 minutes.
    Next, add in the tinned tomatoes and mix well, then add in the oregano, pinch of salt and pepper and the Worcester sauce. Mix well then leave to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • While the tomato mixture is simmering, make the cheese sauce by adding the milk to a pan on low heat and stir in the cornflour. Keep stirring the mixture until it starts to thicken to a thick double cream texture. Then remove from the heat and mix in the grated cheese until it's fully melted.
  • With the two mixtures ready, build the lasagne by laying two sheets on the bottom of a lasagne dish and add half of the tomato mixture. Next add two more sheets and some white sauce on top with the remaining tomato mixture. Finish with the remaining sheets in the oven for 30 minutes until the cheese on top is melted and golden.
  • When ready serve with the fresh basil leaves and side of salad.

Three Bean Veggie Chilli with Coriander Lime rice

Ingredients:
1 tbsp coconut oil / olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
8 mushrooms (chestnut or button)– cut into quarters
1 tinned black eyed beans (400g) drained
1 tin of kidney beans (400g) drained
1 tin of pinto or black beans (400g) drained
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp. cumin powder
2 tbsp. paprika
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. red chilli powder (mild or hot)
1 chilli finely sliced (optional if want it hot)
1 tsp Worcester sauce (optional)
2 mugs of rice
Handful of fresh coriander
1 lime – squeezed

Method

Add the rice to a pan of boiling water on the hob and add in half the coriander and the juice from the lime. Leave this to boil for about 12-15 minutes, sometimes less before the rice goes stodgy.

In the meantime, heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion, chopped garlic, chilli & mushroom and stir fry for about 3 minutes.

Add in all the drained beans & tomatoes and stir all the mixture together and about 2 tbsp. of water to loosen the mixture up (if needed).

Let it all simmer for 4 minutes then add in all the spices and the Worcester sauce. Mix all the ingredients together and then leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes or until the beans are soft.

When the rice is finished, drain and serve with the remaining coriander leaves and add the three bean chilli.

Rachel's Pledge

"Swapping my morning takeaway coffee for a Rooibos tea instead."

How she found it:

"I was keen to reduce the number of takeaway lattes I consume, as I was in the habit of buying  two a day!  I do use a keepcup but this is an expensive habit, not to mention the carbon cost of all these coffees. I wanted to challenge myself to stop. I wanted to train myself to not 'want' the coffee but instead to drink my favourite herbal tea Rooibos. I was surprised by how physical the addiction was, and how hard I found it to resist at first.

I have to admit I broke the resolution on two occasions, when I was particularly tired and I blame this for damaging resolve, but overall I'm proud of myself and I think it's changed my behaviour for the longer term. It's also saved me about £82!"

Rachel's tips:

  • Try to change your habits around the behaviour. For me, I always went to the same coffee shop before work.I found by crossing the road earlier and not having to physically walk past it helped!
  • Reward your behaviour. I let myself have the odd chocolate bar to celebrate sticking to my resolution.
  • Give yourself a break. Setbacks are normal and it's not the end of the world if you break your resolution. Consider what you've learned and get back on the horse!

Wala's Pledge

"Drive less. Use public transport more."

Joe's Pledge

"Start cycling to work again."

How he found it:

"One challenge to my pledge was there were a number of high pollution days when the government advice was to not undertake exercise! This is especially true when exercise is taking place on the roads. There are low pollution routes for about 50% of my journey but the part in central London usually takes place in very heavy traffic. Also it’s been super cold! I had to buy some new gloves as I lost feeling in my hands one evening.

The benefit has been that it showed I had lost quite a lot of fitness since I stopped cycling in November. I think I will continue to cycle into work. I'm a real fairweather cyclist and tend to drop off in November, but taking the pledge has got me back on the bike much earlier than I otherwise would. Also it saves me about £25 per week so can’t afford not to!"

Joe's tips:

  • Think about how the pledge fits into your routine and plan for it
  • Remember your bike lock and a change of clothing!

Sonja's Pledge

"To not create packaging from my lunches."

How she found it:

"My pledge was not having any "on-the-go" food or drink packaging at lunchtime. This meant more time for reading, forcing myself to take a lunchbreak, spending more time and money in local businesses rather than big chains and saving money through more brought lunches.

I'll be sticking to this resolution all year and I've extended it to all meals, so no on-the-go packaging for me. I would have usually had about 3 Pret sandwiches, one salad box and maybe 2 coffees a week, so over a year that will equate to around 200 items of packaging and 100 coffee cups."

Sonja's tips:

  • Take 5 mins the night before to think about lunch and plan accordingly
  • Stick to your guns when you forget to plan e.g. if you can't eat without packaging then don't eat! It makes you not forget again. 

Iris's Pledge 

"To get off one stop early and walk to work."  Iris took these photos of her route through Theatreland and Covent Garden.

How she found it:

"My pledge has been great fun and has not only had a pro-environmental impact, but has given me the chance to explore London. I've really started to get to know the area and become familiar with my surroundings, with taking different walking routes to the office.

However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. The cold January weather has been extremely off-putting with walking the extra distance and the delays in public transport haven’t helped getting to work on time either. 

I think I will continue this behaviour beyond January. I am looking forward to the change in scenery as the weather becomes warmer and the walk helps me clear my head before work."

Iris's tips:

  • Wear lots of warm layers (a thermal flask with a hot drink really helps too)
  • prepare alternative routes to work if there are unexpected transport delays!

Natasha's Pledge

"Buying less Fast Fashion. I needed a new scarf, so I bought this one in a charity shop close to the office. Bargain!"

How she found it:

"Old habits die hard and I still found myself wandering into H&M on my walk home but then I remember “oh yeah I’m not buying anything” and I walk straight out again! It’s actually quite liberating.

It's been great to discover how good clothes are in second hand shops – you do have to rummage a lot but when you do find something, you feel like you’ve found a bargain! 

I will keep this up and my new purchasing pattern will be something like this: what do I actually need? Check my existing clothes, do I have something already? Is it for a one off occasion? Could I borrow something? Check 2nd hand shops, if I can’t find anything in 2nd hand shops then buy something good quality that will last (and preferably not made in a sweat shop). No more Primarni for me!"

Natasha's Tips:

  • Don't make it miserable -  find a good charity shop you like
  • Don't buy out of boredom - distract yourself by doing something else if you find you are buying just because you are bored
  • Enjoy yourself - glam up without the guilt!

Chris's Pledge

"Packageless lunches."