Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A No Impact Man Inspiration

I was recently invited to be part of an invitation only book club that was going to read No Impact Man for their next meeting. I had never heard of the book, blog, or documentary, but agreed to take part. I checked the book out from the library and left it in my car for a couple of weeks. I had other projects and books to read at the time. Several weeks before the meeting, I decided to start reading.

In the book, Colin Beavan asks his wife, Michelle Conlin, to take part in a year long experiment to try and live without any impact to the environment for one year. Colin, Michelle, Isabella (their daughter), and Frankie (the dog) embark on this remarkable project. The book chronicles the steps and phases they take to be no impact while living in New York City. As you can imagine, this is no small feat.

The book was fascinating and thought provoking. The family gave up mass transportation and taxis. They rode their bikes or walked everywhere. They gave up all new products, shopped only at the NYC farmer's market, became vegetarian, got rid of their TV, made no trash, used only reusable containers for everything, gave up electricity, no elevators, washed all clothing by hand in their bathtub, composted, gave up family vacations, made their own food, no coffee (well, for the most part), and so on.

The experiment was to see if they could live no impact and then see what they could take away from the project as part of their normal life afterward.
I am summing this all up and not doing it the justice it deserves, but I am not trying to write a book review here. I just want to share the main idea. For more information, I recommend reading the book, watching the documentary, and checking out the blog written by Colin.

If an urban family can live no impact for one year, why I can't I? This question was pretty easy to answer without much thought. I can't ride my bike to work. I live 18 miles from my job and some of the roads would be too dangerous to ride on. While I can't live no impact right now, I can certainly do more for this precious earth.

As I first thought of this idea, I was not sure what else I could add because we already do so much. We have rain barrels, a compost bin, shop at the farmers market, gave up the use of plastic bags, bring our own take out containers to restaurants, have and use our programmable thermostat, are strict vegetarians, time our showers, use low flow shower heads, turn off lights when we leave a room, use CFLs, use a reel mower, use an electric weed whacker, have hybrid cars, etc.

As I thought more in depth, I realized we can do so much more! I have several changes in mind, but the first one is reduce the amount of TV that John and I watch each day. John and I own two TVs and John suggested that we get rid of one. Hmm? I am just not there yet. I, like so many other Americans, am addicted to TV. The book shed a bit of light on TV watching and I realized that I use TV as an escape from life or as a way to relax after work. While those are not bad reasons for TV watching, I could certainly spend time doing something else.

So this is my pledge. I am going to turn the TV off more when at home. I will:

  1. Turn the TV off while getting ready in the morning. Each morning, I watch the Today show while getting ready. I like to have to have the noise to wake me up and like to hear what is going on in the world. Instead of TV, we could listen to NPR. I can get news and weather just as easily from the radio. The radio still uses energy but, it is a lot less than a TV.
  2. Turn off the TV when I cook alone (John said he would do this when he cooks alone as well) and when we cook together. I can open the window and listen to the birds or turn on the stereo and listen to music. If we are cooking together we can talk.
  3. Turn off the TV when we clean. Both of us clean and we both like to have the TV on when cleaning. We can easily turn off the TV and focus on cleaning.
  4. Turn off the TV when I am on the internet. I have a very bad habit of having the TV on while on the net at night. There is NO need to have both on as my attention can only be given to one thing fully.
This is a slow start, but it is a start. This should reduce at least 5-8 hours a week that the TV is on at our home. This is my phase one to reduce my impact on this planet.

There will be more to come on my progress and what else I decide to do. Feel free to tell me what you have decided to do to reduce your impact. I enjoy learning from others.


Alfonso said...

sounds interesting, how were they cooking their food/heating up coffee?

VeggieAmanda said...

It was very interesting! Coffee was one of the issues that they had. Colin stopped drinking coffee and Michelle went out and got one every once and a while. I think they kept their gas stove on for heating up food. They made their own bread with only locally grown ingredients and made their own vinegar to flavor food. It is was very fascinating.