October 14 - October 28, 2016
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Aubrey Miller


"make big things happen, one day at a time."

Points Total

  • 0 Today
  • 0 This Week
  • 280 Total


Default simplicity


Organize a Course

I will organize NWEI's discussion course 'Voluntary Simplicity' with my family, friends, coworkers, or classmates.

One-Time Challenge

Default nature


Practice Gratitude for Earth

I will spend 20 minute(s) per day outside, practicing gratitude (prayer, meditation, journaling, etc.) for Earth and the nature surrounding me.


Default health


Eliminate Toxic Plastics

I will avoid buying toxic plastics, including polycarbonate, polystyrene and polyvinyl.



  • Aubrey Miller 10/27/2016 5:35 AM
    Also. Call us old-fashioned, but we get the local paper. I just realized it comes in a plastic bag about half the time. This is a tough one, because we could switch to getting it online only. But for the sake of simplicity, I've really grown to enjoy the routine of checking out the local news, undistracted by the everpresent temptation of all-things-internet each morning. Old newspaper makes great project material, from paint-splatter protection to garden mulch. For this tradeoff, the newspaper (and its bag) win. At least until I find a satisfying alternative. 
  • Aubrey Miller 10/27/2016 5:25 AM
     I went to the local coffee shop to get some computer work done. Ordered a drink "for here." It came in this. Dang it.
  • Aubrey Miller 10/24/2016 7:29 AM
    Just over halfway done! As it turns out, the challenge to avoid purchasing plastic is HARD. One of the biggest realizations I've had is just how often I make purchases. Hardly a day has gone by without me buying something. And more often than not, that something involves plastic (or would if I didn't take actions to avoid it). In order to successfully avoid plastic, I'm going to really have to think ahead, plan out meals, where I shop, sometimes deciding simply not to shop, and find alternatives. It's tricky.

    In my plastic stash so far: three plastic grocery bags (forgot to bring my bags, whoops), mini-carrot and mini-pepper produce bags (snack-on-the-run), cracker package, bread bag, grape bag, liner from a chiptole bowl (can you compost that?), two milk carton lids, two plastic icecream spoons, shrink wrap from an Amazon shipment (hadn't ever come packaged like that before!), and a yogurt container.

    Onward and upwards. Let's see how the final five days go...

    • Krista Shue Mast 10/27/2016 6:52 PM
      Uugh. Good work. You have a hard challenge! My trash is nothing but thin plastic bags! I'm totally impressed. 
  • Aubrey Miller 10/17/2016 7:30 PM
    Today (day four) is the first day of the challenge I have legitimately not purchased any plastic. The biggest thing I've learned in these first few days is that it is surprisingly easy to accidentally buy things packaged in plastic. Things I've accidentally bought so far:
    • Day One: bread bag, snack bag
    • Day Two: milk jug
    • Day Three: icecream spoons... not one but two!
    Funny story: On day two, we were camping and needed milk. With no milk in cartons or glass available at the camp store, I made my husband do the dirty deed and make the purchase. (I didn't buy it, so it doesn't count, right?) ;) Then we realized that a mini milk jug is AWESOME to have while camping. It's lightweight, its square shape packs in the cooler perfectly, and it doesn't spill.  So we've decided to keep the container to re-fill for future camping trips. At least there's one less thing in the recycling bin.

    • Brooke Hayes 10/18/2016 12:26 PM
      Congrats on a successful day!!!
      We like buying the quarter gallon of milk for camping too :) 
      Good luck with the rest of your challenge - thats a tough one! 
  • Aubrey Miller 10/15/2016 5:19 AM
    It's heeeeere! I've successfully organized a discussion course. We've had two meetings already.  Through that have been challenged to take 20 minutes daily to be reflective, and remove distracting social media from the home screen on my devices. Just having that external accountability and encouragement from the others in the group is helping me both remember to prioritize these goals as well as celebrate when I achieve them. (Or commiserate when I don't). 

    As for not purchasing plastic, I was about ready to say so far so good.... but then I remembered I bought several items as a snack on the run. All packaged in plastic. Shoot! I blew it on day one! 
  • Aubrey Miller 10/07/2016 6:10 AM
    Also. I was in a hurry when I was grocery shopping late last night, which meant I bought a lot of stuff that was... well... packaged in plastic. Chicken on styrofoam (even though I have locally grown bulk chicken in the freezer, I was in too much of a hurry to unfreeze it), tortillas in a plastic bag, bread in a plastic bag, milk in a plastic jug (the store selling milk in glass bottles was closed). Only my bananas were unpackaged (locally grown if you count the entire continent, ha). The idea of avoiding plastic sounds fine and good... but now I'm realizing just how much I'm going to have to plan ahead if I'm going to make this work for real. Because let's be honest, am I ever not in a hurry when I'm grocery shopping?

    This thought actually crossed my mind: is it cheating to stock up on stuff now so that during the challenge I don't have to buy plastic (because my pantry is already stocked). #truestory

    • maria emmons 10/08/2016 4:29 AM
      That is an interesting question. How do we avoid all that extra plastic? Could all those bags be recycled?
  • Aubrey Miller 10/07/2016 5:58 AM
    This week we had our first meeting of the Voluntary Simplicity discussion course. It went really well! We've got a great, eclectic group of dedicated individuals from the community, wrestling with what it looks like to slow down and live with intention in a fast-paced world. 

    We are challenging each other this week to start a daily practice of taking 20 minutes of stillness (or intentionally un-distracted movement, if the day has been sedentary!) each day. So far so good.

    • Brooke Hayes 10/12/2016 10:49 AM
      That sounds great! Also difficult... I will try it sometime this weekend....

    • maria emmons 10/08/2016 4:32 AM
      This is a great goal! It can be so hard to find quiet. Real peace. There is a cool app called Calm (which is also on desktops) that gives you different nature scenes and sounds and a timer. Having this helps me, though making "time" to do it is t he challenge...
  • Aubrey Miller 10/04/2016 1:44 PM
    Guys! I finally picked my challenge.

    After much deliberation, I'm deciding to avoid (as much as possible) purchasing plastic during the ecochallenge. This is something I try to be mindful of in general, but I'm hoping that by making it the focus of my ecochallenge I'll start taking greater care in being intentional in what I buy.

    The EcoChallenge suggests specific plastics to avoid: polycarbonate, polystyrene and polyvinyl. Honestly, I didn't know what that meant, so thanks to google, now I know. The summary:

    Polycarbonate is that really hard, usually clear plastic they use make CD's and protective eyewear. It has BPA which has been linked to cancer, so that's a big reason to avoid this type especially for anything that contacts food.

    Polystyrene is styrofoam. (I had a hunch on that one.)

    Polyvinyl... can you guess?  Vinyl. (Surprising.)

    I'm going to go for broke here and see if I can't avoid purchasing ALL plastic. Why not, right? I tried this a few years ago and I recall one of my biggest problems being that I couldn't figure out how to buy shampoo... which eventually led me to start REDBUDSUDS. Problem solved! I just hope I don't run out of dish soap in the next month. ;) 

    Wish me luck!

    • maria emmons 10/06/2016 6:03 PM
      You will have to keep us posted as to what items are made from these plastics. I am sure a lot is plastic, so it will be tricky.

    • Rob Nathan 10/05/2016 12:07 AM
      Aubrey, I'm so glad you took the opportunity to learn more about plastics and commit to what is right for you. This is the spirit of the challenge! Good luck!

    • Brooke Hayes 10/04/2016 1:57 PM
      This is great! I'll look forward to hearing about how it goes!
  • Aubrey Miller 9/29/2016 9:17 AM
    Thanks to the new friends who have joined Team REDBUDSUDS! I'm inspired to see how varied and interesting your challenges are.

    For my challenge, I'm really looking forward to the discussion course. It starts in just a week! We've got a full class signed up. I can't wait!

    As I've been telling people about the course, several more organizations are considering or actually planning to lead discussion groups in the spring. To see the word spreading, and to see people taking initiative to get together and share their experiences is what this is all about. I love it.

    • Aubrey Miller 10/04/2016 1:48 PM
      @Kerry Lyles We're doing Voluntary Simplicity. I could use a more simplicity in my life!

    • Aubrey Miller 10/04/2016 1:48 PM
      @Mary Ruth - sure thing! I'll just need it back in the spring. I'll be starting another one in North Canton!

    • Mary Ruth Kamp 9/29/2016 6:03 PM
      Hey Aubrey, can I borrow your Choices for Sustainable Living book? 

    • Which course are you doing? That's great to do the course and EcoChallenge at the same time too -- way to really inspire action!
  • Aubrey Miller 9/20/2016 4:26 AM
    Simplicity seems to be the theme of my challenge this year. Doing less, not doing more. As I've been reflecting on what daily challenge I want to do, I'm finding myself already taking small steps to limit distractions in daily life. 

    For example, yesterday I moved the email icon off of the front screen on my phone. Suddenly, I wasn't impulsively checking my email every time I pick up my phone (to do something else). That meant fewer distractions throughout the day, making it easier to get stuff done without feeling overwhelmed by all of the things. 

    If such a simple change can make a difference, I wonder how other small adjustments could impact my daily experience. I'm on a quest to find them.