Keep an Eco Diary

When did you last see a Pied Woodpecker in your garden, turn the compost heap or visit your favourite stall at the Farmers’ Market? Unless you’re really, really organised and your weekly routine is as regular as clockwork, the chances are you can’t remember – and if you’re trying to live as an eco-friendly family, that can sometimes distort your view of how well you’re really doing.

With so much going on, it’s seldom easy to keep track of just what happened when, and that’s where an eco diary can really help.

Getting Started

The first thing to decide is how you’re going to keep your diary – will it be one for all the family, or will everybody have their own? There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, of course. If everyone keeps their own, then there’s plenty of scope for individual interests to be reflected, representing a personal “take” on events, which can sometimes be helpful if one of the kids is a little less confident than his or her siblings. On the other hand, producing a single record of the whole family’s eco-activities can often make individual members aware of something that they might never otherwise have known. It’s a personal decision as to which you opt for, but it’s worth giving it a bit of thought at the outset to help get things off to a good start.

What To Record

A well thought out eco diary will soon begin to build into a valuable record of all the things you do to be a greener family and what you choose to record in it is really up to you. You can be very selective, or allow anything and everything of even slightly environmental relevance to have its place. It’s probably a good idea to have some kind of a structure, perhaps selecting a few simple categories to include, as this will make it much easier to look back through the diary in the future, especially if you’re trying to find a particular event in a bit of a hurry.

Some of the things that you might like to consider are:

  • Wildlife – what interesting or unusual plants or animals have been spotted in your garden or on your walks?
  • Recycling – have you recycled a record amount this month, or have any new recycling services opened in your area?
  • Energy – how are your plans for saving energy and cutting your carbon footprint going?
  • Travel – where have you been, and how did you get there? Have you done a carbon offset to pay the planet back?
  • Food – what have you been eating? Keeping a record is the best way to see how ethical and environmentally friendly your meals are, and help you reduce any unnecessary food miles!
  • Weather and the seasons – everyone’s talking about climate change, so what’s the weather been doing where you live? Is spring coming early this year, or is the winter dragging on?
  • Clothing, paper and other materials – we all know that it’s eco-friendly to cut back on our use of virgin material, but how much are you doing without ever realising it? Log each trip to the charity shop, or each paperless billing service you sign up for, and you might be surprised!

Make It Fun

It’s easy to start off with the best of intentions when the whole idea is new, but after a while as everyone’s initial enthusiasm naturally starts to wane, if keeping your diary isn’t fun, it probably won’t get done. A fairly regular record of your eco-friendly activities can be a real benefit when it comes to looking back over the weeks and months and seeing what’s going well and perhaps what isn’t working quite the way you wanted – so make sure it stays enjoyable for everyone concerned. The diary doesn’t have to be a laborious undertaking with lengthy blog-style entries made every day; it can be as informal as a collection of photos, drawings and quick notes, if you like.

The important thing is to keep the record – how you do it really doesn’t matter and the trick is to find the way that works for you and your family. You could all be amazed to find out just how green you are!