Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The No Impact Year is over, but the holidays are just beginning

At least for No Impact Man, Colin Beavan, who marks the end of his one year experiment today. I learned about the No Impact experiment in spring. From his blog:
The rationale for the project was this:

(lower negative impact) + (higher positive impact) = no net impact

This, of course, has no real basis in science but it was meant to make rational-sounding a more philosophical question. Could I and my family, for at least this one year, do more good than harm?

Over the year, we reduced to zero or as darn close to zero as we could:

* Our trash (we produced almost none)
* Carbon emissions associated with growing our food (we ate local, seasonal, unprocessed, vegetarian)
* Use of transportation dependent on fossil fuels (we rode bikes, push-scootered and walked)
* Consumption of resources (we bought only what we needed and then only second hand)
* Our use of mains electricity (we survived with the one lamp provided by a single solar panel, a lot of beeswax candles, no fridge and no laundry machine)
* Our use and pollution of water (lots of water conservation measures and use of homemade vegetable- and mineral-based, biodegradable, non-toxic cleaning and personal products)
* We also increased our positive impact through volunteering to help tend trees, raise money for charity, tend to oyster growing in the Hudson, etc.

By taking things to an extreme—an in Manhattan, no less—he was able to get a lot of attention from the press, and raised awareness about how much impact the average American has. As I've been reading the No Impact Man blog this year, I couldn't help but think how much easier his project would have been in Santa Barbara, where the climate is mild and local foods are abundant all year. WE CAN DO THIS. We don't have to go to the extreme, but we can make small changes that would have a big impact by making a big counter-impact. I'd like to join Trekking Left in saying I am thankful for the people who pay attention and sacrifice small comforts and question their habits. I believe that this planet matters to people. Unfortunately, I also believe that many people hear what they want to hear, and consumerism has a loud voice. My hope for the holidays is that people will consider options that help us all step off the Great American Treadmill.

A few options worth considering are:
Bill McKibben's book The Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case for a More Joyful Christmas (get it at your library or else read about it here: Hundred Dollar Holiday)
Adbuster's Buy Nothing Christmas
New American Dream's Simplify the Holidays page

A Small Act of Resistance: The day after Thanksgiving is traditional THE biggest shopping day of the year. Please consider taking part in BUY NOTHING DAY. Yep, buy nothing all day, just to prove you still have a choice.


Phelan said...

Traditionally I buy nothing.

Queen Whackamole said...

Hooray for Phelan! Have a delicious Thanksgiving on the homestead.