Archive for the ‘No Impact’ Category

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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.

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Not NO Impact – But REDUCED Impact

October 22, 2009

[I created a blog post on the No Impact Experiment social network today.  I have reposted it here:]

I have not been a model "no impact" person this week.  I had a sick child for the first 1/2 of the week and now she has given me her cold.  A virus can sap your will to have a life let alone your will to consciously change your life.  But still, I’ve made an effort. 

My trash creation is still low and I feel guilty about every piece I create.  However, I’ve noticed that one of my reactions to the admonition to reduce trash creation is to avoid throwing things away at all, including things that should be tossed.  So there are items laying around that I would otherwise toss but I’m waiting for the week to be over – I don’t think that’s the point – but it’s keeping my personal trash bag emptier.

Transportation Day was a loss.  I don’t have any real options that I can make on a permanent basis.  Maybe I’m just not looking hard enough.  When gas goes up to $5 a gallon I bet I’ll be trying.

Food Day.  My husband was out for the evening – and he’s usually the family chef.  So dinner was Market Day breadsticks and salad.  The good thing was the salad was fresh greens from a local hydroponic farm – so that gives me a point or two.

Today was energy day.  I was conscientious about turning out lights at work, I made sure that the power cord for my laptop, which is always plugged into an extension cord at home, was turned off while I was at work (I have a funky little switch where the cords connect – I got it years ago at a Big Lots and have never seen them again).  And we had dinner by candlelight.  There were more things I could have done though.  I could have been even more conscientious about classroom lights – I think I left some on after my 12:00 class.  And I could have been more thorough about plugged in appliances around the house.  We have many things plugged into power strips, but we aren’t always good about turning off the power strip.  On the other hand, the house temperature is set at 64 while people are home and at 58 during the day and night. 

Tomorrow is water conservation day.  It’s pouring outside.  It’s hard to worry about too little water when I’m wondering if the basement is wet.  Still, we’re pretty water conservative.  None of us run water while brushing out teeth.  I only heat the amount of water I need in the teapot, not a whole pot full.  We run full loads of wash and full loads in the dishwasher.  We have a rain barrel – which is full to the brim and we don’t have much to do with the water actually since we don’t water plants (and the garden is done for the season anyway).  I rather hate just emptying it onto the ground, but I’ll need to before it freezes. 

The next day is giving back day.  Hmmm, that will take some thought.  I’m rather overextended in the volunteer area as it is – – it may be a check writing day.

What I’m really looking forward to is my Eco-Sabbath – my time of minimal resource usage – my time to sit, preferably outdoors, and read a book. 

So, the short story is I’m putting some effort into this and it is paying off in small ways.  Certainly I am not as obsessed with the topic as some or as lackadaisical about it as others (hey I’m registered and blogging about it); I think I’m at the appropriate medium involvement that I can afford right now.  Conservation of mental and emotional resources is important too you know.