Consumption will consume you. Photo: Daquella manera
In November of 2006, New York City resident Colin Beavan, along with his wife and daughter, set out to live with no net environmental impact.
Fast forward three years later, add the Huffington Post, and you have No Impact Week. According to the website, the goal is to “demonstrate ways in which small actions in our daily lives can have a profound impact on our world.” Together, they’ve provided a daily guide with steps you can take to lessen your impact over the course of a week. Each day has a different theme.
I’m joining over 4,000 people to take on this challenge to identify what impact my actions (or lack of action) are having, and to find out what areas of my lifestyle I can change to balance out my carbon footprint a bit more.
Day 1: Sunday: Consumption
The Sunday challenge was to not buy anything new (excluding food). Considering I am on a tight budget anyway, this would not be too much of a challenge. The first step for today in the No Impact Guide was to make a list of things you “need” this week, take off the ones you can live without, and find an alternative way to get the rest of the items (second hand, borrow it, make it). I didn’t have a very long list, so this was relatively easy. I’m also trying to jump start my workout regimen, so every time the urge to go to the mall comes up, I’m going to consider a run or bike ride instead.
What about people who do need to buy something new? Luckily, there are plenty of resources available for you to make an earth friendly purchase. Try The Green Guide for Everyday Living for information about making better product choices, or the GreenPages to find a directory of screened and approved green businesses.
There is also a non-profit organization called Freecycle, whose members give away stuff they don’t need to people who do need something. The mission statement of this group is to “build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources and eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community.” Membership is free and there are close to 5,000 groups globally. If you don’t feel comfortable getting something from a stranger, have a clothing/item swap with your friends.
The next step was to start collecting my trash from the day in a separate (reusable) bag from the regular trash can. Unfortunately, my week’s worth of food runs out right around Sunday, so I conveniently finished the apple juice, cereal, and a box of crackers today. Add in the receipt for the new food I purchased, and the plastic container the pears were in, and my bag is almost full. The good thing is that those items are all recyclable, which I have a separate trash can for already, so I wasn’t too hard on myself for that one.
Day 1 complete. That wasn’t so difficult, although I am a little nervous about tomorrow’s challenge – trash.
Are YOU taking the No Impact Week challenge? If so, share your experiences with us in the comments.
To learn more about Colin Beavan, aka No Impact Man, check out this article from our archives.
Want to learn more about consumption and its impact? If you do nothing else, watch this video. “The Story of Stuff” is a video by Annie Leonard about our production and consumption patterns and the environmental impact these patterns create. Its fast pace and compelling facts make the 20 minute long video feel like five minutes.