Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The "No Impact" Experiment

I've been hemming and hawing about signing up for Colin Beavan AKA "No Impact Man"'s No Impact Experiment, and finally did so. After defending the man and his efforts on this blog, how could I not?

The No Impact Experiment is an invitation to anyone out there to attempt to drastically reduce your impact for one week, using some of the ideas generated by Beavan during his one-year no impact experiment. Each day of the week (beginning Sunday, October 18), you are asked to focus on reducing your impact in one area, and continue that reduction each day while adding a new area, as follows:

Sunday: reducing consumption.
Monday: reducing the trash you generate.
Tuesday: transporation. Attempting to get around by your own efforts (e.g., walking or biking) or public transporation.
Wednesday: food. Attempting to eat more sustainably and locally.
Thursday: reducing your energy usage.
Friday: reducing your water consumption.
Saturday: giving back. Finding ways to contribute to your community.

The No Impact project provides a downloadable (PDF) guide with ideas on how to help you each day, and you can sign up for their social networking site to talk with other folks about their efforts. I signed up for the Washington group, and because I was the first person to do so, I also signed up for Massachusetts, since several others are already members of that group.

As I look through this list, there are many things I have already begun doing, and several areas for improvement. Since the bus routes in my town changed, I have been trying to do more walking. I have been taking my daughter to the park in her stroller. It's a half hour walk in each direction, up and down several hills. But it is getting easier to do, so I hope to soon tackle the one-hour walk to the shopping mall, which is where the nearest everything else is for me: stores, gas, pharmacy, etc. and the once-every-15-minutes bus. (There is a once-an-hour bus right by the park, but to catch it, I have to time my walks very carefully). Next week, I'll take on that one hour walk challenge.

Another area to reduce is energy usage. One of the big areas I can work on is doing more things with my daughter, rather than parking her in front of the TV. I already do a lot with her (she helps me cook and clean, and we play together), but if she had her druthers, she would spend all her time at home with Mommy. A friend of mine with two school-aged sons, one quiet and one social, says she noticed this difference between her boys. The quiet one has no problem playing on his own. The social one always wants to be doing something with someone else. It drove her crazy for a while, until she realized that if she didn't try to stay close to her outgoing son, he would look elsewhere for all his social needs, and she'd find herself regretting it when he becomes a teenager and wants nothing to do with Mom and Dad.

I believe the same is true of my very gregarious daughter. But that means I need to be engaged with her in an ongoing manner, not sitting her in front of the TV when I want some quiet.

The hardest part for me (and one I may not do) is eating locally. We are already doing more by growing our own, but our budget isn't such that we can afford to buy locally all the foods we need to buy.

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