The No Impact Experiment: What I learned

October 26, 2009

Well, the No Impact Experiment is done for me – if you are interested in trying it yourself the next experiment week is November 15th. [In case you aren’t in the know on this one, the No Impact Experiment is a week-long program to incrementally reduce your personal impact on the environment.] 

I wasn’t a very enthusiastic participant.  I think I’m to a point in my green evolution that I’m tired of people telling me what to do – or maybe I’ve just always been like that.  But I chose to participate and so I’m under some obligation not to be cranky about it and to try to see some positive in the experience.

I had two expectations.  One is that I would be able to inventory my behaviors – and I did – and if you’ve been reading over the past week you have read my inventory, so I won’t review it here.  Suffice it to say that I’m pretty darn green – not perfect, but I do a lot.

The second expectation is that my weak areas would become clearer to me – and that happened too.  I think I have two: transportation and trash.

Short of selling the house and moving closer to work, or quitting our jobs and trying to make a living from home we are, and will be for the next 15 years, a two-commute family. 

And we make trash.  Now, I don’t think we make as much trash as the average family of 4.  We compost for one thing, and that helps a lot.  But the amount of junk mail is a problem.  So that might be my next challenge.  Stay tuned for my advances there.  

I did encounter one idea in my No Impact Experiment experience that I liked a lot and will try to continue and even expand – and that is the idea of an eco-sabbath.  During an eco-sabbath, a period of time as short or long as you want or can manage, you have as little impact on the environment as possible.  It is harder than you’d think.

My first plan was to do nothing all weekend.  Well, that wasn’t possible, we were out of milk and greens, so a trip to the farmer’s market was needed, and I have some Christmas present plans that required a trip to the hobby store, and my daughter needed more clay for a class project (did you know there are 3 types of octopi?), so Saturday involved driving – and a Mommy/Daughter stop at Starbucks.  So not no impact.  Sunday involved laundry, and it was too cold and overcast to dry clothes on the line, so machines were used.  My eco-sabbath ended up being about an hour when no clothes were being washed or dried and I was just sitting and knitting in silence.   Actually, another part of my eco-sabbath was to not turn on my computer until after dinner on Sunday – that was harder than I thought it would be.  Perhaps I need a computer-sabbath too.



  1. Re the junk mail, have you tried Catalog Choice? It’s a little tedious logging in all your catalogs, but you only have to do it once and then it cuts down significantly on what you receive.

  2. Hmmm, perhaps I’ll get a shredder (like a chipper, Stacey, but for paper rather than branches 🙂 I suppose the worse that can happen is nothing… I hope (now I’m wondering about inks…)


  3. Junk mail can be composted. All of it – except the plastic parts. Just tear it all into little pieces and toss it in.

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