The YES! No Impact Diary: Day 7

Our No Impact Week participants make a different sort of impact: giving back.
Saturday Giving Back

Pay it forward. Feel the benefits of service.

Click here for more stories from No Impact Week.
Click here
for more information on Day 6: Water.

Bunmi Ishola
Olubunmi Ishola

Dallas, Texas

Olubunmi Ishola is a No Impact skeptic, but she's willing to see if the experiment can prove her wrong.

Molly Eagen

Molly Eagen

Minneapolis, Minnesota

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.

Aran Seaman
Aran Seaman

British Columbia, Canada

Sustainability blogger Aran Seaman has done No Impact Week before—and he's back for round two.

Kathy Kottaras
Kathy Kottaras

Los Angeles, California

Mother, teacher, and eco-pilgrim Kathy Kottaras' lyrical take on the inner adventure of going No Impact.


Don't forget to check out our No Impact Week featured blogroll for more great stories, and post your photos on our Flickr page for a chance to win a subscription to YES!

Day 7 experiences from our readers!

Day 7, the call to get involved, got me thinking about what I already do and what more I can do in the realm of bringing awareness and change. We can change our own behavior, but until we can get many more to do the same, it doesn’t mean much. It’s not enough to be doing the right thing in our own little isolated bubble. I don’t think of this day as “no impact” but as “much impact.” So here’s my Impact List:

I’m going to be more involved with contacting my elected officials and making my voice heard. They need to know that we’re invested, we’re involved, we care, and will hold them accountable to helping alleviate the pressing environmental issues of our time. Food availability, water conservation, electricity, transportation, trash, consumption, all the elements of No Impact week are areas that need major attention, and we’ve got to get our lawmakers involved.

Now that I’m working less, I have more time to be involved in my community. I’m going to start volunteering again at my local food pantry and will look for other ways to be involved as well.

I’ve lived in the same place for going on 4 years and hardly know any of my neighbors at all. I’m going to start making a real effort to get to know them and connect.

It’s easier to make better environmental choices when money is not a factor. Opting for organic fruits and veggies, phosphate-free dishsoap, energy star appliances, eco-conscious packaging, recycled materials, free-trade goods, installing solar panels, all of these things are more expensive. Maybe not by much, but for someone on a very tight budget, every penny counts. For low-income individuals, these options are simply not available, and we must demand better for everyone. Change can’t just come from the middle and upper classes. It’s up to us to advocate for community gardens, share recipes for easy-to-make at-home cleaning recipes, and in general, speak up on behalf of those who can’t or don’t have the resources to speak up for themselves. We’re all in this together.

I’m also going to continue blogging and sharing my own story to show that it is possible to make changes, how to get started, and how to keep going. -Karyn Alzayer

I confess, I got busy and didn't really focus on the last three days, although I do not feel as though I have failed. I am already focused on living a no impact life. I decided to take the challenge to see where and what I could improve. I was disappointed with myself for having created trash and using disposable or packaged items. I am so focused most of the time on minimizing my impact that it never occurred to me that I did waste resources with just a few things I do.

What I learned this week: I have made a difference in my life and my health over the course of the last two years. I also realized that I need to blog and track my progress to see the impacts I have and have not made. I regret not taking my bike everywhere. It is my primary transportation mode, have you ever shopped on a bike? You have to plan ahead, which falls into your food purchases, if you have a plan picking up a few items daily lessons your loads. I used to feel guilty for putting my bike on the bus when the weather got nasty or it got dark and cold, but the reality is that I have nothing to be ashamed of. I do what I can when I can, we all have moments where we just do not want to do whatever it is, and we need assistance. It is ok, at least we got out there and took the plunge, even if we had to catch a bus for half our commute, that is one less car and one half less public transit for our trip. These little things do add up and if we all count the little things we can see that we are making a difference.

Every one that makes a conscious effort to make one change in their life is a true hero. No matter what that change is, if everyone in the World made one change, there could be a significant decrease in the impact our species makes on this old rock we call home.

I am inspired by the stories, I am encouraged by the efforts of those people that chose to spend the first week of this new year focusing on reducing their impact. I know for certain that shifting out of a consumeristic mode, we can all find happiness and we will all financially benefit in great ways. I know for a fact that by living your life intentionally and planning ahead, you can find freedom from the trappings of capitalism and once that freedom is found, you will never want to fall victim to that discontent again.  -Sea of Carnage

The seventh day of the No Impact Week Experiment focuses on giving back.  According to Yes magazine's website, "By giving back, you slow down and appreciate what you have. The conversation and community that you will experience will give you that all-important, essential nutrient: happiness."

The challenge today is to be charitable, act in good faith, and become one with others. As the website says, "Ultimately, you will not only be giving back — you’ll be getting back."

Volunteering and Health: According to Yes! magazine's website, "More than 30 peer-reviewed, longitudinal studies have found a strong connection between volunteering and a decreased risk of heart disease, lower rates of depression, and greater longevity."

The No Impact Week Experiment suggests making a list of all the ways you contribute to your community now. Here are some ways that I contribute to the community:

- Volunteer at the homeschool co-op on Mondays throughout the school year.

- Hold doors open for people if they are near me when they are entering a building.

- Donate items on a regular basis to the second-hand shop so the proceeds from their sales can support programs that help individuals, families, and seniors in need.

- Help my dad with his medical and dental appointments; and work with his case manager at the senior day care program to ensure he's receiving personalized and meaningful care as he deals with Alzheimer's Disease.

- Donate my hair to Locks of Love. I just donated a ponytail in Fall 2010 and am growing my hair out again. This was the third time I've grown and cut my hair, and donated it to Locks of Love.

- Share my sewing skills with different non-profit organizations.

These are the things that come to mind immediately.  I use to be much more active in the community - especially when I ran a non-profit here at the farm.  However, once that ended in 2003, I became more focused on raising Sophia and Olivia (both of whom have special needs); homeschooling them; and working with different agencies that provide therapeutic care to address sensory issues as well as developmental and speech delays. -Ann blogs at Harvest Moon by Hand.

I was pretty stumped when it came to this one. I wasn't sure where to look, or what I could do. On top of it all, I have a two yr old that I'd be taking with me (or seeing if I can con our teen-ager into staying with his little brother), and right now, we have only one vehicle. Taking a potentially tired and cranky toddler on the bus after my volunteer time is done is a thing I don't want to subject the other passengers to. I could wait until one of my husband's days off - and do a few hours of volunteering then, but it does give us less time to things together as a family (and less time to get other things done).

Then it occured to me that one of the big ways I could give back would be by becoming a local contact/volunteer for the group that's helped us with our food sensitivity/allergy issues. So I sent them an email letting them know that I'd like to volunteer - to be a ear to listen and a guide for those just starting out, to drop off pamphlets at the libraries so that people can find about us, or to help research food companies to add to the foodguide that we use. I've received so much advice and friendly how-tos that it seemed like it was time to give back. Though it's not a local group, it is a non-profit group staffed mostly by volunteers. I can't help at most of their local stuff (they're East Coast based), but I can do stuff for them here in Colorado.

That's great, but what about local stuff? Where do I go to find out what needs doing, and is any of it potentially stuff that I can do? So I went to city's community center website. There, I found a section for Getting Involved and from there Volunteering. Hooray! There's a myriad of things that can be done, so I'm going to look through them, see which ones really spark my interest and find out if any of them will allow me to bring my toddler along. I'd love to be able to get both of my kids involved, since being involved as a child will promote the continued involvement as an adult. In order to facilitate that, I'll need to sit down with my oldest, and see what he'd like to do. It's important, it connects us - not just us the family, but us the community - and it serves to remind us why all this is so important. -Laura W. in Colorado





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