Energy Diet


We are Monia, 31, and Tiago, 35. We've just became parents of a 5-month-old baby girl, Ines, and as if we weren't having enough fun, we decided to join this energy challenge.

Tiago owns a company for market studies and I work in a translation office as a technical translator. We live near Lisbon, the best city to ride a bike if you really want to lose some weight. After all, it only has seven hills!

Nonetheless, our perfect lifestyle would involve riding to work on a bike and sharing an urban garden plot near home. But the real situation is slightly different: I have to drive 30 kilometers (18 miles) to the office every day and cannot grow anything but parsley and coriander on our balcony… Oh well, we'll all try to grow together during the next eight challenging weeks.


Portugal Participants

Your Points Percentile:
Total Country Participants:

At Home (45%)

  • Changed thermostat
  • Changed settings on refrigerator, freezer, water heater and washer
  • Replaced at least one third of light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs
  • Disconnected electronic devices when not in use

Wild Card Items

  • Eliminated second freezer or refrigerator
  • Insulated water heater
  • Replaced appliances with green-certified products
  • Hung clothes up to dry instead of using the dryer
  • Sealed all of the windows and doors

Food (86%)

  • Ate a vegetarian diet one day a week
  • Cut down on take-away meals
  • Limited daily intake of beef to 8 ounces
  • Switched to sustainable seafood

Wild Card Items

  • Started a food-based garden
  • Ate vegan or raw for a certain number of days per week
  • Bought grass-fed beef instead of conventional
  • Gave up at least one processed food
  • My own action: Consume only free-range chicken and eggs from pasture-raised hens

Transportation (30%)

  • Drove no faster than the posted the speed limit, avoided rapid acceleration or braking
  • Removed extra weight from car, inflated tires
  • Used public transportation instead of driving
  • Reduced your planned air travel by one trip

Wild Card Items

  • Bought carbon offsets for travel
  • Carpooled or found a ride-sharing program
  • Invested in a more fuel-efficient car

Waste Disposal And Reduction (90%)

  • Recycled all glass, aluminum, plastic, batteries and paper
  • Eliminated advertising mail
  • Changed to paperless billing
  • Eliminated the use of plastic and paper bags

Wild Card Items

  • Began composting at home
  • Used biodegradable bags for trash or walking the dog
  • Recycled or donated old athletic shoes and clothes
  • Recycled or donated old electronics
  • My own action: Use reusable diapers instead of the plastic disposable ones

Water Use (80%)

  • Gave up bottled water
  • Turned off tap when brushing teeth, scrubbing dishes
  • Shortened showering time
  • Replaced shower head with a low-flow model

Wild Card Items

  • Used xeriscaping for yard
  • Installed a rain barrel to collect water for garden, lawn and plants
  • Installed a low-flow toilet
  • My own action: Put a water bottle in the toilet to save 1,5 L in each discharge

What You Buy (91%)

  • Tallied stats for water, electricity, natural gas and gasoline use
  • Switched to organic produce
  • Switched to eco-friendly cleaning methods
  • Switched to locally made (non-produce) products where possible

Wild Card Items

  • Cut use of disposable items
  • Repaired or extended use of clothing items
  • Stopped using wrapping paper for gifts
  • Changed Printing Habits
  • Rented or borrowed instead of buying infrequently used items
  • My own action: Buy secondhand clothes and toys for my baby
Total Points: 470

Heading for the Long Haul

Before the challenge actually started, I had great expectations about my achievements. I thought I would finally start composting and grow a beautiful and prosperous food-based garden. Eight weeks later that was exactly where I failed… Looking back I have to admit I was not up to my expectations and there’s still much work to…

The Flaws of a Sustainable Diet

This one is easy. We may get a new badge and all! So, we buy organic, try to buy as much local fruits and veggies as possible and we follow a non-strict vegetarian and vegan diet. Our flaws are fish and seafood. Go figure why: Living on the Atlantic coast, it would be strange not…

Baby with Cloth Diapers

When I was pregnant I had a great plan for my (eco)parenting: reusable nappies. The pure idea of ​contributing to fill the dumpsters with thousands of plastic diapers over the next two years and a half, at least, terrified me. So, in my last pregnancy month I purchased a nice pack of more than enough reusable…

We’ve been trying to cut down on bottled water for some time now, but we have to admit it is still a hard nut to crack: We either forget (or lose…) our stainless steel water bottles or we go to a restaurant and are ashamed (or forget) to ask for tap water. At work we have a water cooler and since the municipal tap water from my work…

Trick or Tree

I have already explained in previous posts why I do so little on the transportation matter and why changing my transportation habits is currently not an option. To add the icing on the cake, we have recently booked a flight to New York for the fall. (Well, it’s New York, guys, I’m sure you understand!)…

Dear Planet Earth, I confess: We love online shopping. Books, jeans, cooking utensils, baby cloth diapers, you name it. Is there a more comfortable way to purchase stuff without having to stroll through the overcrowded Portuguese shopping malls? Probably not. But… Have we thought about the environmental inadequacy of our purchasing actions? Well, we have.…

One could think that, because we live in a Mediterranean country, we don’t need to use heaters in the winter. Wrong. Despite the fact that Portuguese winter is relatively warm (compared to northern Europe) and that it never snows in Lisbon, temperatures can fall below zero in the coldest months, from December to February, and…

A Way to Start

I could start by saying that we (me and Tiago) are not the most environmentalist couple in the world. Not that we don’t care. We do. I cry every time I watch documentaries about polar bears starving to death and Tiago, after having read something about how dangerous plastic bags are to the environment, once…