Click here for more stories from No Impact Week.
Click here for more information on Day 1: Consumption.
Follow Minnesota high-school student Ashe Jaafaru's video diary as she takes on No Impact Week: Day 1.
Follow Colorado couple Kelsea MacIlroy and Muck Kilpatrick as they promote low-impact living in their rural community.
Los Angeles, California
Cooper Bates is on a crusade to introduce no-impact living into family and professional life in Los Angeles.
British Columbia, Canada
Sustainability blogger Aran Seaman has done No Impact Week before—and he's back for round two.
No Impact Man inspired Molly Eagen's graduate thesis on life without oil. Follow her tips this week as she takes on the No Impact Experiment.
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Former YES! intern Scott Gast navigates No Impact Week in small-town Massachusetts.
Olubunmi Ishola is a no-impact skeptic, but she's willing to see if the experiment can prove her wrong.
More reflections on Day 1 from our readers!
So yesterday I was not supposed to buy anything, except for food. Do other things besides shopping. Well this is easy for me. I never did get the shopping gene so I have never thought the idea of going shopping or getting malled was a fun thing to do. They said make a list of all the things I wanted to buy this is week and then see what I can do without. For the most part I have been ridiculed for not shopping enough. This is especially true when it comes to buying shoes and clothes. So this part will not be a problem for me.
That said this experiment did stick with me as I was doing my Christmas shopping weeks before. For the most part I did not buy too much and most of my gifts were handmade with some reusable parts as well or items that will last a long time. This year I actually gave more gifts than last year, but this was due to my handmade gifts, which were food items so I think this is a good choice.
Yesterday I did walk down to the local hardware store where Serena my girlfriend lives to check out what they have. This place was as big as a Home Depot but had probably been serving the local community for at least the last three or four decades and is not part of a chain, and we could walk to it. This was actually a great find that will support the local community as well as reduce transportation. They even had recycled (used) overalls. Serena bought a tube of caulking to caulk around the cat door we recently put in, which will make her kitchen less drafty.
The only hard part about this action would be if my cell phone died and I had to get another one, or to help with alternate transportation, I need some rain pants so I can ride my bike in bad weather. I have been meaning to get some, but now I need them and am not supposed to buy them. It is not likely that I will find a good used pair at Goodwill but I will look and see. -David Coale
We live in NE Arizona, recently gripped by snows followed by severely frigid temps (-10F) with barely into the teens during the days - yet we live on solar panel/battery power and propane heat, having determined that some redundant systems are necessary to this occasionally extreme high desert environment. This morning, our water pipes have been frozen for about 36 hours, and we don't expect to see temps over 35F until tomorrow, so the water bottles we store in the house are coming in mighty handy for watering pets & ourselves! In the Greenhouse, I forgot to completely shut one vent and we lost five ripening tomato plants (dang! guess its green tomatoes, what we can't get to ripen on dying vines) and the basil, and a prized coleus, but otherwise interior temps remained over 45F when I checked at sunset and it was 7F outside! Thanks goodness for passive solar heating & light! - Donna
So today starts the "No Impact Challenge Week" and I'm really excited to find out just how much my doings are truly impacting the environment. Before I go into my initial thoughts, let me say how I came to partake in this.
I’m sure that everyone who is participating in this challenge knows Colin Beavan’s story. For me, I watched his documentary. For others, they may have read his book, blog, or watched his documentary like me. I found his family’s overall experience to be very enlightening. I consider myself to be very self-aware of my carbon footprint- I use reusable bags; I recycle; I’ve even helped out on a few environmental causes. However, in the last few months leading up to watching his documentary, I felt like I needed to do more. So when I went onto Beavan’s website, I immediately signed up for the challenge. This was my chance to try out his yearlong experience in one week.
I’m excited for this week, so much so that I can’t fall asleep until I write this all down- it’s pretty early in the morning. I’m hoping to take from this experience a better understanding of the small steps I can take in lowering my overall environmental impact. I know it's going to be challenging; and quite honestly, if someone hadn't mentioned something regarding the environment during lunch yesterday, I would have completely forgotten about this challenge until much later on in the week.
Okay, so today's topic focuses on consumption. Since I've started working in retail, I've invested a lot of my money into things that, thinking about it now, are a little frivolous, like shoes (My weakness!). I pretty much contributed a huge chunk of my paychecks back into the place where I spend my hours convincing people to consume more and more for the benefit of the company. The months leading up to this challenge, I've grown increasingly disenchanted by my actions working in retail, with my overspending and my persistence in getting people to overspend as well. I don’t like trying to persuade my customers to open up a store card. Sure you save, but are the things you’re buying really worth it? Beavan said it himself in his blog: “What stings is the fact that we often find out that getting more isn't making us happier." (2007) I hope to come away this week with a more minimalist aesthetic (among other things). More stuff- who really needs it? - Steph
I have been telling friends and family about this whenever I have the opportunity. I think its such a good idea. Reactions have been skeptical, but not cynical, so far. The 'transportation' day happens to fall on the day of my return trip home from Hamilton to Peterborough after the holidays. My dad jokingly asked if I plan on walking. I find myself re-assuring others that its not in fact meant to literally be a no-impact week ...but it is a nice goal. So far I have generated plenty of tissue waste (tis the season in Canada) but I've seriously considered going the handkerchief route (much to my sisters disgust). My dad offered to dig-up my grandpa's old stash- and I noticed some nice ones at a funky hippy store here in hamilton too. Besides that, my waste has been nil. In terms of buying I cracked and had to pick up some latex gloves for work. The health code apparently requires us to use comet in our sinks because it contains bleach, which is really rough on hands. It's too bad 'clean' often means toxic for many people. Anyway, so far, so good! - Jess
My partner Conrad and I are participating in the No Impact Experiment for the second time. We first did the experiment in October 2009. Conrad had been following Colin’s blog during the course of his one-year carbon cleanse experiment, so when we heard that he was going to be in our area talking about his book “No Impact Man” and showing the film, it was a must see for us. Our first No Impact Week experience was very helpful to us, both as an awareness-raising exercise, and as a mini-trial, to test lifestyle changes we could make to have less impact. We decided to do it again for a number of reasons; to reflect on what changes we have made, what changes we planned to make but didn’t, and to look anew at other things we might try.
We have never been big consumers of goods so consumption was not a big challenge for us, even during the first experiment. What has changed for me is how I make my consumption decisions. I don’t know who first said it, but one of the most powerful things that I have heard on the topic of consumption is, “Every dollar that you spend is a vote for the way of life you want to live." That is what I try to keep in mind when I spend. For example, buying the newspaper (or a magazine) may create trash, but my money is supporting the reporting of news and exchange of ideas, which is so critical to a healthy society … once I’ve read them, I can pass them on to others, recycle them, or they can be reused as worm bin bedding or a weed-blocker in the garden. Ideally, we will be able to do this in the future without creating waste, but with the current economic model of many papers and magazine, you pay to support the reporting and it comes in paper form.
Since we participated in the last experiment one of the groups we belong to has started a monthly Trading Post where people can bring their excess stuff: food, clothing, crafts to trade with others for the goods. It’s a cashless exchange. Not only is it a way to recycle/reuse things it is also fun and builds community. All it takes is someone to organize it, a space to have it and a way to get the word out. The trading post was inspired by a group, now called The Somerville Trading Post which started out in a small apartment house parking lot in Somerville MA. -Elizabeth Marcus
Consumption Everywhere! On the first day of the No Impact Week, I had to take a family trip to Florida to take my brother back to college. While my family and I were there, we decided to go to Universal Studios. At first I was really excited to go, but then I realized that it was No Impact Week. Oops!
What was I supposed to do? It is an amusements park! It is a fun place! Of course I wanted to go. I can justify this! When you think about it, the roller coasters are using physics (kinetic and potential energy) as one of their main ways of moving, I was getting out of the house, walking, and spending “quality time” with my family, as my dad would say, and I was able to observe all the wrong doings of others. I have never noticed all the shops within Universal Studios and Islands of Adventures.
When I come to think about it, it seems as if 70% of the place are shops, 20% are food places and the other 10% are actual rides. Consumption, consumption, consumption. The stores are full with trinkets and trash. Do people really pay 35 dollars for a t-shirt with Spiderman on it? I can honestly say that the only thing I consumed while I was there was food from a restaurant and butter beer from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Don’t worry. It was in a souvenir cup so I can reuse it!
Another thing that I saw at the park was the overbearing amount of trash. Trashcans were everywhere and they were always filled to capacity. One glaring omission to my eye was the recycling bin. They might have been around, but they sure were not making a big deal about using them.
Even though I was traveling and was in an amusement park, I tried the best I could to not consume while there was much temptation all around me. -Victoria Smith
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