The No Impact Project was conceived by Colin Beavan, aka No Impact Man, following the success of his blog, book, and film, which chronicle his family’s year-long experiment living a zero-waste lifestyle in New York City. Central to his thesis is the notion that deep-seated individual behavior change leads to both cultural change and political engagement. Living low-impact provides a clear entry point into the environmental movement. This thesis is the bedrock of the No Impact Project.
No Impact Week is a shortened version of the project that gives us all a chance to try out some of Colin’s no-impact lifestyle changes for just one week. I’m looking forward to giving No Impact Week a try, and that’s good, because it’s in full swing, as of yesterday. Though I’m a tiny bit afraid that through this blog, I come across as more hard-core than I really am and will totally fail. I have plans to keep you all updated with my no-impact progress, or maybe not, if I’m ashamed of my failures, haha.
I’ve known about this for a few weeks, but was confused a little….I thought when you signed up it was possible to choose your own start date. When I signed up yesterday though, I found that Sunday January 2 was day 1. I suppose we could go on our own and just do it next week, but we jumped right in anyway and got started with day 1’s task: less consumption.
Afer signing up, we received a nifty pdf file via email with the week’s challenges on them. Here was yesterday’s task list.
Step 1: Make a list of everything you need to buy this week. Delete items you can live without for the week. For the rest of the items, figure out if you can purchase them second-hand, borrow them, or make them yourself.
Our own list: Groceries/food items (will happen on Saturday), new phone for husband.
Now with the phone thing, I’m gonna sound like I’m totally making excuses here, but I feel I have to explain a bit. He’s had the same phone, refusing to upgrade, for…I don’t know….maybe about 4-5 years? We were trying to remember when he got it, but it was so far back, neither of us knows. And it was a hand-me-up from his mom when she got a new phone, so it likely 2 years old even then. It’s to the point we can’t buy a new battery for it because they don’t make it anymore, and it won’t hold charge for much more than a day, if you don’t make any calls. If you actually use it, you’ve got a lot less time. We looked for a refurbished phone, but oddly enough, just getting a new phone though our plan is a much better deal. So there you go. We could have just put off the purchase until next week so as not to have to log it here, but that feels like cheating, because we’re still gonna get it next week. Why not now? The good news is that he won’t get another phone for a very long time.
On to step 2: Put an empty re-usable bag in a private place at home. Throughout the day, fill it up with all of your trash, recyclables, and food waste. If you’re out of the house, carry your trash home with you. Make sure nobody else’s trash gets in there but your own. This will help you get ready for Monday’s challenge.
Wow, this one’s gonna be illuminating. I’ve been wanting to cut back on our trash, and there’s really nothing like laying it all out for the whole week to really help us figure out what we don’t need. Yesterday, I misread this and thought it was just landfill trash and not recyclables and compostables too. I’m not digging through the compost bin but will have to get out yesterday’s stuff from the recycle bin to add to our pile.
Step 3: Just for this week, try not to shop for new items. Will you find something better to do with your time and money? Could you use this time to spend with friends instead?
Considering our small list of stuff to get this week, This one sounds pretty easy. And the fun part is brainstorming what else to do with all the extra time!
Step 4: What is the hardest part of decreased purchasing?
The hardest part was the pang of realization that the new phone was in fact cheaper than the refurbished one, because of the deal through our phone plan. We could go with something more expensive and better for the environment, but since my current job is working on finding a job, we just plain have to go with the cheapest option.
If this has grabbed your interest, you can read more about the No Impact Week, watch a short video about it, and sign up through Yes Magazine’s page here. Also, here are some of Colin’s own thoughts about No Impact Week from his blog.
Is anyone else signed up to participate? I’d love to hear about your own experiences!
Good luck to all participants!