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Deb Blogs on No Impact Week

No Impact Week is showing aspiring environmentalist Deb Seymour that going green isn't always easy.

Click here for more stories from No Impact Week.

So far this week:

Sunday Consumption




Live a fuller and happier life by buying less stuff.

Click here for more stories from Day 1: Consumption.

Deb SeymourYay! It’s No Impact Week!

According to the project’s instructions for today, I typed up a list of what I think I need to buy this week and have been collecting my trash all day and setting it aside in a bag to go through tomorrow.

For extra credit, I have collected any other trash still left over from the Christmas holidays that wasn’t tossed out before Jason and I took off for our new years trip to Victoria, B.C.

The fact that, to consume less, I must S-L-O-W way D-O-W-N and P-L-A-N sends this hurried, harried, and notoriously impatient woman into fits.
  1.  The List:

    • Weekly Groceries (will be hyper aware of what I buy and how it is packaged) 

    • Two Yoga Classes (can walk to the classes) 

    • One Massage (can walk to appt) 

    • One Chiropractic Visit (can walk to appt) 

    • Blood Pressure Medication (no outs on this one folks, sorry!) 

  2. Contents of today's garbage isolated to be analyzed tomorrow 

So what is the hardest thing about not consuming?

The hardest thing about not consuming and/or anticipating not consuming is the absolute dread and panic at the disruption of my instant gratification "syndrome," AKA "withdrawal."

The fact that, to consume less, I must S-L-O-W way D-O-W-N and P-L-A-N sends this hurried, harried and notoriously impatient woman into fits—I LOVE that I can get practically any and everything I need 24/7. It’s a high. Even when I don’t actually shop. It’s knowing that I can if I want to, at any time. Yeah, man!

Taking on a 3 a.m. DJ shift at the public radio station, the attraction to late night  shopping began. I did my first "hit" of wee hours shopping and there I was, in the store, buying… and it felt powerful.

It’s an instant fix, a magical occurrence, and increasingly, all too normal. It’s a wonder that this craving for instant everything is even there.

When I was growing up in the 1970s, there were no 24-hour super markets even in the large, cosmopolitan city of San Francisco, CA. Things actually closed at 6 p.m. or whenever and decent people were home eating supper, doing homework, etc.

It wasn’t till my post-college days in Boulder, CO in the late 1980s that I first began to see supermarkets open 24 hours—I think it was King Soopers, a Midwest chain (yes- that is how they spell it), that I noticed first. Ironically, I remember thinking at the time: "Why on Earth would anybody want to shop at that hour? Really!"

However, taking on a 3 a.m. DJ shift at the public radio station, the attraction to late night  shopping began. I did my first "hit" of wee hours shopping—a stray moment on the way to or from the station— and there I was, in the store, buying… and it felt powerful. Like I could do something very few others did. It felt a little bit naughty and scintillating to be up that late buying stuff like it was high noon or something… exhilarating… magic!

When consumers are given the ease-of-access and opportunity to buy, buy and buy whatever and whenever, less thinking and more impulsiveness begin to overrule reason.

Moving later to Seattle and realizing that the Home Depots and Fred Meyers and Ballard Market of the world are still up hopping until 11 p.m. and later was a thrill… and still is—a sign that I am not plugged into the nine-to-five world.

Honestly, even after all these years, it still seems amazing to me that I can just jump in the car and whiz to Freddies at 10:45 p.m. and pick up, like, a toaster. Something I actually did recently when my visiting mother expressed concern that there was no toaster to use for her breakfast the next morning.

The look on her when I said “No problem! Fred Meyer is open til 11 p.m.—I’ll buzz up there now and get one.” She said “WHAT?!?! Oh, no, Deborah! Don’t go out now! It’s too late! It’s dark! Are you crazy?”

Probably. But off I went. Got the toaster. Feeling grumpy at my mother's old fashioned-ness. She might not go out a 9:45 at night, but I could… neen-er, neener. I was powerful, invincible, magical. In my world, brand new toasters did walk in the door at 10:15 p.m., (turkey sandwiches at 3 a.m., coffee at 5 a.m... whatever! ) The clock was conquered.

But thinking about it, maybe Mom was right.

What the bleep was I doing buying a toaster that late? At 10:15, for God’s sake? Like what, was I going to make eggs and toast at that time?

When consumers are given the ease-of-access and opportunity to buy, buy and buy whatever and whenever, less thinking and more impulsiveness begin to overrule reason. Because you can, you do. You buy too much, too quickly, and/or make duplicate purchases.

And wealth and cash is not the issue here—you can as easily purchase a 60 cent candy bar as a $600 comforter or $800 couch at Fred Meyer at 10:59 p.m. It’s that you can buy, not how much it costs here. Maybe shopping shouldn’t be that easy.

I cannot judge others or claim an answer. But what I do know for sure is that I really don’t need a 24/7 store.

A few less open stores at more limited hours would definitely help slow me down and make me stop and think a little more about what I am really buying and why.

As such, it behooves me to participate in this No Impact Project in order to develop some more awareness about what I buy and consume—and tomorrow’s trash inspection will be much like a food diary: when you write down and account for each action, the mere awareness usually causes one to naturally consume less.

Monday Trash





Discover how wasting less improves your life.

Click here for more stories from Day 2: Trash.

Hello, Day Two!

We package all our foods so severely in the name of it staying sterile or at least E. coli-free, yet that packaging, used for less than 10 minutes, winds up choking the cleanliness out of the dirt it’s buried in...

OK. Yesterday’s Garbage: (Big Intake of Breath)

“On the LEFT, weighing in at Less-Than-Ten-Minutes …” 

  • One Starbucks Cookie Bag

  • Two wax paper backings to the two “In Case of Emergency, Please Rescue Our Pets” stickers I bought at Crown Hill Pet Store two weeks ago 

  • Packet from last night’s Efferdent denture cleaner for my night mouth guard (I grind my teeth) 

  • 2 packs of Splenda 

  • 1 Athenos Feta Cheese package 

  • 1 UPW (“Unidentified Plastic Wrapping”—really scary, because if I bought it just yesterday and can’t ID it, was it that important to begin with) 

  • Sorted Trash, Photo by Deb Seymour

    Deb's Trash: Things Used for Less Than Ten Minutes, More Than Ten Minutes

    A ball of used Kleenex 

  • 2 SUPER PAGES phone books left on my stairs that I did NOT ASK FOR, Nor EVER want, yet they show up every year (they go straight into the recycling) 

  • The flimsy half-ripped plastic bag the phone books came in.

“On the RIGHT, weighing in at +10 minutes of usage…”

  • 1 Empty Clausen Dill Pickle Jar (Been working my way through the pickles for about two weeks)

  • 1 Small Godiva Chocolate Beads (ditto) 

  • 1 Applegate Farms Smoked Sliced Turkey Bag (been eating out of that for a few days.)

GROSS!! Disgusting, dirty, and hopeless. I despair at all the hours spent each week simply managing this stuff. Why does modern society have this penchant for over-packaging EVERYTHING in the name of some sainted God of Sanitation?

We package all our foods so severely in the name of it staying sterile or at least E. coli-free, yet that packaging, used for less than 10 minutes, winds up choking the cleanliness out of the dirt it’s buried in, choking wild life, being accidentally swallowed by small children, etc.

The other thing that drives us nuts are those little annoying jam packets. Not only are they litter, but they stick to everything.

Enter Jason, my Sweetie of Five Years:

“So, this is about time used, not whether or not it’s recyclable, right?”

“Right,"  say I.

“Hmnn…" ponders Jason, thumb stroking his chin thoughtfully. “So that means if you took two packages of Splenda, opened them, used half the contents on your first cup of coffee, waited 10 minutes, then used the second half on your second cup of coffee, you could move the Splenda packets over to the right side of the picture?”

Sigh. Did I mention that Jason is a software engineer?

“Yeah, yeah, I know, we engineers are always trying to game the system,” chuckles Jason. “I just had to say it!”

The fact is that neither of us likes the messy packets. The other thing that drives us nuts are those little annoying jam packets. Not only are they litter, but they stick to everything. At least the Splenda leavings just dust the table…

…BUT I DIGRESS.

Why do I make so much garbage? Some environmentalist I’ve turned out to be!

It’s great that I keep cutting my CO2 footprint down (new furnace, less flying, solar hot water heater, electric car, better basement insulation) but what good will that be if I am still left choking and drowning in all this plastic crap?

Oh, and you DID know that plastics are made from PETROLEUM, right?

Today’s exercise in garbage analysis is just the thing I needed to get my head out of the sand about my own, still over-blown consumption. I really DON’T need all this stuff. And I CAN bring by own containers to the stores, restaurant, etc.  I’ve actually done it on and off over the years, but it’s just too easy to get lazy…

WISH ME LUCK!!!

Tuesday Transportation

Burn calories, not fossil fuels.

Click here for more stories from Day 3: Transportation.

This one’s easy: I get everywhere I’m going by Scotty’s transport beam…

Seriously, I did this analysis when I was deciding whether to buy a limited-range neighborhood electric vehicle, (NEV) in 2008. When you’re thinking about plunking down fifteen grand on a car that only gets 25 miles per charge, you do a lot of distance analyzing.

The conclusion I came to then, is that 85 percent of my entire life takes place with in a 5-mile radius from home. Thus, I am the perfect candidate for an NEV. Enter Zoe ZENN Car.

Although I have the two most fuel efficient autos in the world, the cars are burning the energy I need to be burning instead.

So, you see, I don’t have to walk. However, my waistline disagrees ….

Going to the gym three days a week, plus some occasional yoga and swimming, used to be enough … until my dad died. My mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and had to have help closing down and selling the house of 47 years so she could move into a continuing care retirement community. I began the every-three-weeks commute to California to get this all done.

Plus being over the age of 45 hasn’t helped.

Last year, in an attempt to shed this extra poundage, I made a pact to start walking everywhere within a 2 mile radius of my house. That covers getting to my office (1.2 miles), Fred Meyer (1.1 miles), Safeway, Ballard Thriftway Mart, Walgreens (1 mile each), and Jason’s place (8 blocks). Oh yeah, and the post office is somewhere in that trajectory too, as are most of my favorite breakfast joints.

Feet, Photo by Deb Seymour

"These Toes Were Made For Walkin' :... Deb lubes her joints, greases her toes and ditches the cars for No Impact Week.

And I lost 10 pounds in two months.

But then got derailed when a favorite aunt died, followed closely by a favored uncle… and blammo, I started grieving afresh and quit walking.

So although I have the two most fuel efficient autos in the world, my beloved Zoe ZENN Car and Lady Blue Honda Insight (the old style which gets 52-58 MPG) the cars are burning the energy I need to be burning instead.

And really—if I can walk everywhere with in a 2 mile radius from home, why not three, or four, or five? And burn calories instead of fossil-fuels or hydro-electric?

Therefore, it is with great joy that I started the walking everywhere thing again with joy—not only today, on No Impact Week Day Three, but yesterday and the day before as well.

It worked last time to drop the weight, it’ll work this time, and, with the extra incentive of this week’s experiment, hopefully I can make it stick.

Less waste equals less waist.

“Can I have Lady Blue Honda Insight, then?” queries Jason mischievously … 

 

Wednesday Food

 

 

Healthy eating can also lessen your footprint.

Click here for more stories on Day 4: Food.

“Yikes, but my feet are achy and sore, walkin’ on through from Day 3 to Day 4…”


If I thought that posting my current weight for all the world to see yesterday was weird, I’ll tell you that posting photos of the contents of my cupboards and refrigerator is downright F-R-E-A-K-Y. But since it was easier to analyze items I’ve already purchased rather than making a list and trying to guess where and how it might be manufactured, I’m doing it this way:

Let’s start with the cupboard:

Cupboard, Photo by Deb Seymour

Deb clears her cupboard of any non-locally produced food... but there's still a problem... PLASTIC PACKAGING.

Local (for me, meaning WA, OR, ID, British Columbia):

  • Muir Glen (Sedro-Woolley, WA)
  • Pacific Soups (OR)
  • Annie’s Salad Dressing (B.C.)

Minimally Packaged (Meaning recyclable cardboard or glass bottles)

  • All the nuts from store bulk bins
  • The contents of the Quaker Oats container (which are not actually Quaker Oats—they are oats from the bulk bin—but where they are produced, I know not!)
  • The sugars—yes, C&H has been touted as a bad company, but was the only sugar that was not in plastic!
  • The olive oils
  • The jams and jellies
  • Nile Spice

Not local and/or badly packaged and questionable in more ways than one:

  • Any and all the crackers
  • The dried cranberries in the plastic container
  • Ditto the walnuts
  • The Hershey’s cocoa (Not fair trade—the other cocoa IS fair trade, but obviously not local)

OK—I’m getting exhausted already trying to sort out the local vs organic vs packaged. How about you?


OK, let’s take a peek at the fridge.

Local

:

  • The Eggs (Broadview Farms, WA)
  • The butter (Organic Valley, OR)
  • Seneca Applesauce (WA)
  • The apples (NW Produced, or so the stickers on them say)
  • The Tomatoes (B.C)
  • Nancy’s Yogurt (OR)
  • The container full of chutney (OK—the origin of the ingredients may be questionable, but the chutney it self was made by my sister-not-in-law right here in Wallingford. So there. Humph! )
  • The yellow Walla Walla onion

Minimally packaged but questionable:

  • Tupperware container containing salad fixings from the Ballard Market
  • The lettuce

Not Local at All (though the packaging isn’t an issue here)

  • Avocados
  • The red onion
  • The red pepper

This is crazy-making—all this trying to choose between organic, not packaged, and local. And it is not like I’ve never thought about this before. In fact, I think about it all the time, which makes it even more crazy-making… What ever happened to the days of ignorant bliss, where I just shopped?

OK, OK, B-R-E-A-T-H-E: This is No Impact Week, I do have choices and I can do some online research…


I’m exhausted, having spent the day cleaning out the stuff that doesn't belong. Spent from doing this. Thinking about it. Taking the photos. Writing the text. Feeling awful. Wait a minute, maybe I am hungry!

Got any chips?

Thursday Energy




Replace kilowatts with ingenuity.

Click here for more stories on Day 5: Energy.

Finding my stride here on day five...

Instructions:

1. Assess current energy consumption habits. Walk from room to room in your home. List everything in each room that uses energy to operate.

A few items from the Keep List:

  • Fridge: I know Colin Beavan of No Impact Man and Vanessa Farquharson of the Sleeping Naked is Green book turned off their fridges, but I just can’t go there in the Pacific Northwest where food spoils so fast. And as my 2007 fridge is Energy Star and uses only 448 kWh a year, I’m not too worried.
  • Solar hot water backup: Yes! I have solar in Seattle and it works! My hot water system is already way eco-friendly and the electric backup kicks in mostly from November - March.
  • Dishwasher: This is a toughie. My dishwasher uses less water than I do when handwashing dishes. I am a real water hog. (Just wait until tomorrow’s post!) So I feel that doing 1-2 dish loads a week is better on the environment than me splashing away at the sink. And you know, the dishwasher is a manual-knob kind—no digital display—so the 8,656 hours a year when it’s turned off, it’s OFF.
  • Deb Seymour with LED bulbWashing machine: Ditto. Especially as in 2006 I replaced the old, inefficient clothes washer with an Energy Star front loader. There is no way I could use only 9 gallons to wash a full load by hand. And I do wait until I have a full load of dirty clothes before using, period.
  • "Bulb Madness" indoor lights: Sorry, but a few of those get to be used! I am, however extremely anal about only using the lights in the room I am in, and getting others folks to follow suit. Also, most of my light bulbs have been switched from incandescent to CFL or LEDs..
  • Computer: Well, duh….
  • Outside security floodlights: Living in the city and not having outdoor security lighting is asking for trouble. Not to mention a potential lawsuit if someone trips on the stairs. I do have the lights on dusk-to-dawn timers so that they work with instead of against nature.
  • Electric Tea Kettle: I started using one of these when I realized how darned efficient they are. It heats up two cups of water in about 60 seconds, as opposed to the old stove top kettle I’d heat over gas that would take four minutes. And since drinking warm liquids in the winter helps me keep warm and allows me not turn up the thermostat, it’s a keeper.
  • Deb's Cat, Photo by Deb Seymour

    Deb's aging cat, Sweat Pea

    Photo by Deb Seymour

    Heating pad for elderly cat
    : Sorry folks, but my cat is 15 going on 16, arthritic and suffering from feline alopacia (baldness) on her belly and armpits. Watching her quality of life change when she got the heating pad was like watching a plant revive when it gets watered. And when Sweet Pea’s quality of life is good, my quality of life is good. So as long as she’s around, she gets to have her luxury item—her heating pad. She deserves it! (Meow!)
  • Furnace: Sorry, this stays in use, especially since I use a whopping 9.8 therms a year with this new Trane triple-stage, high-efficiency furnace. My highest gas bill in 2010? $13.81.

A few items from the I-Don't-Need-It-So-Much list:

(With the exception of my clothes dryer, I barely use any of these items anyway!)

  • Cell phone: I hate cell phones and only carry one reluctantly. It is usually off, too—much to my beleaguered boyfriend’s dismay. I toy all the time with the idea of not having one at all, but then some medical emergency with my remaining parent happens, or I am stuck on the side of the road with a flat… and boy, is that phone a blessing! But that doesn’t mean I like having one.
  • TV: Hate it, have never had cable, and only use the box for an occasional rented video.
  • Home music recording gear: Use occasionally to record music ideas, about once a month. And with a new CD coming out this spring, I’ve been using it to prep for the big studio sessions.
  • Space heater: Only gets used for my mother when she visits. Like my cat, she is elderly and cold all the time (though not balding on her belly, I hope!)
  • Paper shredder: I use this a lot, I am afraid. Despite an ongoing war with junk mail, I still get way too much crap. And in this day of identity theft, one can’t be too careful. However they do make an ink-pad stamp device that blacks out your info with scrambled black “x” mark patterns.
  • Electric Car: The Seattle Electric Vehicle Association (SEVA) is going to kill me for saying this, but yes, I could live without an electric car! I am doing so this week because I am walking everywhere! However, I am and will remain a fervent member of SEVA as the electricity used by my vehicle is minuscule compared to burning fossil fuels and can be generated sustainably.
  • Clothes dryer: This is the hardest thing to give up. I hate the way my clothes feel all stiff when I line or air dry them, even in the sweet-smelling sunshine. Especially towels and cloth napkins. They’re awful. But I try and air-dry my stuff more and more.

2. Unplug! Turn it off. Power down. Go off the grid. For the truly adventurous, turn off your electricity completely and see what happens.

Deb's Electricity Graph   Deb's Natural Gas Graph

Well, right now the only things on are the fridge, the computer, the outdoor lights, the clock radio, the lights in the room I’m working in, and the two LED hall lights. Not sure what else to turn off right this moment…

3. Ask yourself throughout the day: What is the hardest part about reducing the amount of energy you use?

“The clothes dryer, the clothes dryer , the clothes dryer…”

Friday Water

 



Soak up the personal benefits of using less water.

Click here for more stories on Day 6: Water.

Ah, if only there was a water calculator that was  flippin’ accurate…(Um…Deb… its called your utility bill!)

Instructions:

  1. Assess your current water habits from the moment you hit the snooze button until bedtime. Calculate your approximate water footprint and figure out the water footprint of your food here.
    • I tried—see below.
  2. Create a list of the water you will likely consume today (not exact measurements, just general usage).
    • I drink 8 glasses a day
.
    • I drink 3-4 cups a tea  a day
.
    • No shower (I only shower twice a week due to very dry skin & hair.)

    • I plan on hand-washing the oatmeal pot and salad bowl everything else goes in the dishwasher, which I run only run a  week and today’s not the day.

    • We have the “if it’s yellow let it mellow” rule around here, so low-flow toilette gets flushed about 3-4 times total (1.6 gallons a flush x 4=6.4 gallons).
  3. Think about where you use water: at home, at work, church or school, on the go, and eating out. This will help you think about how you use water.
  4. BEGIN! Turn off the faucet. Run the water gently when needed. Soak the dishes. Sponge-bathe.
    • I do a lot of this already...
  5. Ask yourself throughout the day: What is the hardest part about reducing the amount of water you use?
    • Getting accurate measurements!
    Are you doing something particularly novel or fun to reduce your water consumption?
    • I use rain-barrel water poured into a 3 gallon bucket to flush.

I hate water footprint calculators. They never ask the right questions, including the one suggested by the No Impact Project website.

For example:

  1. I have extremely dry skin and hair (thanks, Mom!) and only shower two times, maybe three times a week.  The calculator only gives a "how many times a day" option. (So does that make it .33 times a week or .25 times a week, or… what?)
  2. They ask "What’s the average length of your showers?" Well, do they mean the actual minutes the water is running or how long I am physically in the shower stall? Because there’s a difference: I turn my (low-flow) shower head completely off when soaping and scrubbing. And sorry, but I don’t own a  precise enough kitchen timer to time the minutes.
  3. "How many times a week do you wash your car?" UM… folks, I wash  my cars 3 times a year… and at the car wash where the water usage is timed. 
Are there really people who wash their cars weekly? I sure don’t know any! 
I want a “month” and  ”year” option on the calculator because that is more realistic.
  4. "How many times a week do you water your garden?" This one really peeves me. I live in the Pacific Northwest! It rains nine months a year!
 I only water my garden in the summer months! Where’s the “season” option? For a calculator  that is supposed to be helping us get in line with nature, it sure isn’t letting us respond in line with nature.

 

OK. Now that you’ve read my rant about water foot print calculators and their lame measurement taking ways, let me offer you a true or at least much truer) picture of Deb Seymour’s Water Usage 2007-2010.  It ain’t pretty… but you will get to see exactly how many gallons I used at home in 201o:

And here is the month-to-month data as taken from my bi-monthly Seattle Public Utilities Bill:

Deb's Water Chart1     Deb's Water Chart2

I won’t bother to post the bi-monthly charts for 2007-2009 because the pattern is always same: my water usage spikes wildly during the growing season and I am an avid gardener.

So, the question for me in 2011: how can I grow my plants and veggies to my hearts content yet use less water?

The answers:

  1.  Add more rain barrels to my existing collection of five and be religious about using water from them.
  2. Fix the leak I found last year in one of those barrels.
  3. Buy and use a gallon measuring meter for the hose to use when I do have to hand water (I got a little crazy with hand watering last summer—I really thought I was using less than I did)
  4. Learn to use my newly-installed drip irrigation system properly (I managed to over-water last year in spite of having the darn thing).
  5. Consult the Seattle Rain and Water Index more frequently and study it more closely.
  6. Re-group my thirstier and less thirsty plants in a better water footprint pattern.

This is going to be a challenge, but worth  the effort in the long run. I am delighted that high tech offers us the ability to measure things in person more accurately. I look forward to posting my results (hopefully successes!) on Deb Goes Green as they happen!

Saturday Giving Back

 

 


Pay it forward. Feel the benefits of service.

Click here for more stories on Day 6: Giving Back.

Moving toward eco-Heaven here on day seven…

Instructions:

  1. Make a list of all the ways you contribute to your community now. Do you watch your neighbor’s kids for free? When’s the last time you held open a door for a stranger? Do you write checks to charity or volunteer on occasion?
  2. How can you step up what you’re already doing and do more? Where are you on this pyramid?
    • I am at the middle layer.
  3. Make a list with three columns:
    1) all the charities you’d love to help out,
    2) why you feel you can’t,
    3) how you can address and remove those barriers.
    Do your barriers — as legitimate as they may seem to you — outweigh the importance of participating? Remember: you needn’t become an “activist” or even a leader to be active in your community! Simply participating in an ongoing project is giving back and living your values.

    • I have been a community volunteer in some aspect or another all my life—it's how I was raised. Currently I am already supporting the things I care about most with the time I have. (see below!)
  4. Practice what you preach. Give. Do. Help. Change. In other words, sign up today to volunteer for a local environmental cause. How do you feel? As you give back throughout the day, ask yourself what benefits arise from volunteering. Did you meet your neighbors? Find common ground with strangers?
    • Preaching to the choir here, dude! A long-standing, established choir! (Thanks, Mom and Dad, for demonstrating volunteerism from the get-go … heck, my mom was volunteering locally when I was in utero!)

When I saw the first question for today, I said to Jason:

“Oh, God ! I hardly been doing *anything* lately because of all the trips to California in the past 20 months to care for one dying and one remaining elderly parent”…and Jason nearly fell off his chair.

“WHAT? Are you kidding?!” he said, eyes wide open.

“You are doing an incredible amount! Despite the days and hours spent going back and forth to California to help out your mom. And running your part-time web design business. The car club, etc. will always be there. And your Mom is lucky to have you!”

Um… OK…. this gave me pause for thought. I do (and did last year, too) do a lot and I think elder care of one’s parents counts as helping in your community! Never the less, maybe writing it all down, like step number one suggests, would be a good idea.

So I did … and yeah … um … I guess I managed to cram some stuff in even though I feel like I’ve been doing nothing but hopping on planes to help out my 78-year-old Mom (who is the one, by the way, who started me out at age eight volunteering at the local Red Cross!)

  • Seattle Electric Vehicle Association: I am an ardent and active member/volunteer for The Seattle Electric Vehicle Association (SEVA) donating my enthusiasm for electric vehicles (EV) by education, demonstration and also public lobbying for EV and alternative transportation legislation.
  • I have been an active member for the past ten years (and still going strong) in the Washington Women’s Foundation, a group that engages women in the power of collective giving. Through informed and strategic grant-making, our members expand their knowledge, invest in the life of our community and demonstrate leadership through effective philanthropy. Some years I sit on the Grant Committee. Some years, like the past two, I don’t. But I also throw in my contribution!
  • The Seattle Foundation: I also donate to my community via the Seattle Foundation, whose mission is to create a healthy community through engaged philanthropy, community knowledge and leadership. We inspire informed and generous giving to make our community—local, national and international—a vital and healthy place to live. The Seattle offers a variety of ways to pool money and donate.
  • I am a lifetime member of and a volunteer for Victory Music, a Pacific Northwest music co-operative that supports acoustic music in the Northwest, by fostering a community that nurtures musical growth, creativity and the appreciation of acoustic music. (Again, both my work here and my live music performance got put on the back burner the past two years in favor of Mom and Dad, but watch out! New Deb Seymour CD due out in the spring!)
  • KAOS, KSER, KBOO, KPLU, KCTS: I am a listener-member of independent, public radio and currently support KAOS 89.3 FM (Olympia, WA) KSER 90.7 FM(Lynnwood, WA) KBOO 90.7 FM (Portland, OR) and KPLU 88.5 FM (Tacoma, WA). I also support KTCS Channel 9 public television. (Need I say I used to be a volunteer program host at KGNU 88.5 FM in Boulder, CO, like, for years?)
  • Ballard Food Bank, Seattle, WA: I participate in (and sometimes host) events for my neighborhood block, donate items regularly to the Goodwill and Ballard Food Bank, pick up trash when I see it, sign petitions, write emails and letters to my congress people about issues I care about, and even pet all the passing neighborhood pooches as they go by. And did I mention I adopt rambling calico cats? (OK, just the one right now, but all my cats have been adopted)
  • Last but not least, I write Deb Goes Green: One Woman’s Attempt at CO2 Sobriety in an Oil-Addicted World… but… (hee-hee!)… you knew that already!!!

As to how I can step this all up? Well, by creating 34 hour days and 10 days a week for starters…

But seriously, I am already stepping up my commitment to Deb Goes Green by participating in No Impact Week. Everything else gets added to as time and energy allow—more time when I have it, more money when I don’t. I’ve experienced “volunteer burnout” at many, many times in my life, and in my forties, I have finally struck a balance with how much time and/or money I can give without having an impact (!) on myself. If I am to create a no-impact lifestyle, this must include “me” time…

Now it’s time to chill out on the couch, with the cat and a book… ZZZZzzzzzz

Sunday eco sabbath

 

 

Take a break from everything. Ohm Shanti.

Click here for more stories on Day 8: Eco-Sabbath.

Today, on No Impact Week Day 8 (or Week Two, Day 1… however you want to look at it) we were told to stop and take an “eco-sabbath”. Turn everything off. Chill. Relax. Spend time with family and friends. Reflect. Reflect on No Impact Week! (But of course!)

So Jason and I spent a lazy morning in bed, ate a leisurely breakfast at home (we usually go out Sunday mornings, but that’s high-impact). I then loaded up my trusty purple day pack and re-usable shopping bags with re-useable containers and hoofed it to the Ballard Market to pick up ingredients for tonight’s dinner (home made chili).

And yes, I used the bulk bins and put my produce in the old plastic bags I have been re-using for that purpose. Some of the bulk products were produced locally, others not. (Hey, did you know you can buy chocolate chips in bulk? I had no idea!)

We then had our friends J and T over for dinner, boardgames, and lots of quippy, fun conversation. The board game was “Forbidden Treasure,” which happens to be a cooperative game where all players must work together to get the treasure. An accidental choice of games—we could have played a range of others—but how fitting for the community aspect of No Impact Week!

It is now 1:03 AM Monday Jan 10, 2011, and now I can “officially” turn on my computer and share my successes and failures of the week:

  • I went the whole week without driving or even getting near a car. It was tempting, oh so tempting, but I didn’t. I’ve probably covered about 21 miles on foot! (I did hop the bus 2 times—once going down the hill as I was running late to an appointment and once half-way up the hill—it was getting really cold, the bus caught up with me, ya-da-da-da-da-da…) GRADE: A
  • I cleaned out my cupboards and fridge of non-local and/or overly packaged items and donated said items to the food bank. I then went shopping with even more resuable bags and containers than usual and started to take the bulk bins more seriously. Still some work to do here, but I’m off to a good start. GRADE: B
  • I assessed my home energy usage for the past 4 years, updated my existing Excel charts and shared them on this blog for all the world to see. GRADE: A on detailed data collection; GRADE A- on cutting Natural Gas since 2007 by 90 percent; GRADE B on cutting electricity use since 2007; GRADE D- on water reduction (not a total F since my water usage went down from 2007-2009, but WAY up in 2010).
  • I kept track of all the garbage I produced between Sunday, January 2 and Sunday, January 9, and….well, let’s say I am APPALLED at my own consumption. (and I deign to call myself an envrionmentalist? Hah!) GRADE: F

My goals then, for 2011 on Deb Goes Green, are to reduce my water use and seriously reduce my garbage, especially the non-durable, nasty temporary plastic, the same junk that is clogging our landfills and choking our oceans. There must be some hidden, sub-conscious reason I am buying so much stuff with this junk wrapped around it, and a way I can just stop it. It will be work. It will drive me nuts. But I am determined: I can’t live like this anymore … and neither can Planet Earth.

Lastly, I’d like to take the time to do something I didn’t do very well this week, which was to write down the Five Daily Gratitudes that YES! Magazine asked for. (I think I got in one day—Day 2) So in closing, I’m going to take a stab at listing the other 30 things I am grateful for because, well, I’m grateful!

Deb’s 30 (More)Gratitudes

  1. Being asked to join No Impact Week in the first place
  2. Being able to participate!
  3. Two working computers
  4. One working digital camera and the know how to use
  5. Sturdy walking shoes and the good health to use them!
  6. Sturdy purple day pack
  7. Reasonable weather in which to walk and the sturdy legs to do so
  8. My passion, competence and determination
  9. Grandpa’s old silk hankies
  10. All the people who took the time to comment on this blog!!! You guys rock!
  11. My wonderful cat, Miss Sweet Pea
  12. Re-usable cloth napkins
  13. My incredibly funny, smart and supportive boyfriend, Jason: (“Thank you”)
  14. Electric tea kettles!
  15. Jason’s pressure cooker
  16. Friends who like to play board games
  17. TRANE triple-stage furnaces
  18. Solar hot water heater
  19. That I have the resources to get the last two items on this list!
  20. My garden
  21. The abundant vegetables that grow in it every year
  22. LED Christmas light! Oh, yeah!!!
  23. My singing voice
  24. My excellent guitar playing ability
  25. The fact that I’m only four to five sessions from completing my next singer-songwriter CD “Mama Wears A Hard Hat”
  26. My Mom!
  27. My mom’s new buddies at her retirement community
  28. The fact that I can reasonably expect to walk down my street safely
  29. My awesome neighbors, friends and family
  30. Life Itself


SAY YES!!!

 

Click here for more blogs, stories, and resources for
No Impact Week with YES! Magazine

 


Meet Deb

I first picked up on the YES! challenge from the February 2008 issue “Carbon Free in Ten Years: Keeping Up With The Jones” and resolved to do it in five years. So far, I’ve cut my CO output by 65-75 percent in two years. However, I STILL generate too much garbage. Participating in No Impact Week is the kick-start I needed to REALLY examine what I buy and how it is packaged. Not to mention that digging through trash is really darned interesting—I am beginning to envy archeologists their profession! Check out my blog, Deb Goes Green.

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