No Impact Week

As the last days of summer flutter away on the breeze (the Autumnal Equinox is Friday, September 23, 2011), I’ve decided to join in a unique week-long international project called No Impact Week. The project begins on Sunday September 18th, 2011.

No Impact Week is described as “a one-week carbon cleanse to help you unplug, reconnect, and do your part to save the planet.” Now, when I first read about it, I thought – wow, pretty heady stuff and, I’ll admit, a little intimidating. But the basic idea is that each day, one day at a time, you focus on reducing one aspect of your personal impact on the environment. A simple “how to” guide (think of it as your “personal trainer” for the week) walks you through each day’s basic activities. The section for each day of the week contains a brief “Challenge” for the day, a few simple steps to help you meet that challenge, and a page of “Ideas for Change”, including helpful tips, links to inspiring videos and online articles, and plenty of cool ideas to get you thinking about other ways to reduce your environmental impact.

For example, Sunday’s challenge is reducing consumption. The activity for that day is to make a list of all of the things you “need” to buy for the entire week, then look at that list critically, delete everything you can really do without, and figure out what other items on the list you can borrow, make yourself or buy secondhand. On Sunday, you’ll also collect all of the trash, recyclables and food waste that you generate that day and set it aside for Monday’s activity.

Other days during No Impact Week focus on trash, transportation, food, energy and water. I confess that before fully committing myself, I scoped out the whole set of activities for the week to be sure I felt up to the task. What impressed me most was the reflection questions throughout the How To guide that addressed the reality that living in a low impact way is HARD! Unlike some other “save the planet” projects I’ve seen, No Impact Week doesn’t guilt-trip, scold, lecture, judge or patronize. It’s about giving all of this stuff a good-faith effort. And I love that Saturday of No Impact Week is about giving back in some way within the community, and Sunday is an “eco-Sabbath.”

The concept of No Impact Week was created by Colin Beavan, who lived according to these principles for an entire year . . . with his wife and 2 year old daughter . . . in New York City.

During that one year “experiment”, Beavan wrote the book “No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process.” An award-winning documentary by the same name follows Beavan, his self-described “high fructose corn-syrup addicted, meat-eating, take-out junkie” wife, Michelle, and their little girl, Isabella, through the often hilarious and brutally honest ups and downs of trying to live this way.

In an article for YES! Magazine about No Impact Week, Beavan writes:

If you’re concerned about the world, there’s nothing worse than that feeling of powerlessness: the idea that we are all victims of outside circumstances; that catastrophe might occur at any moment; that the world is capricious. I don’t want to live in that world.

I want to live in world that I can do something about. And here’s what I think: If I believe I can help, then I can. If I believe that I can’t help, then I can’t. Because if I don’t think there’s anything I can do to change things, I won’t even try. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But I choose to believe that I—and you—can and do make a difference, then we will.

No Impact Week provides a way each of us can try, on a small-scale, to do some very tangible things to make that difference.

In his YES! article, Beavan goes on to say that:

The world needs us to be self-reliant so we can heal it, to look inward and find our own wisdom—not to walk in lock-step with all the stories about what we’re supposed to do and how we’re supposed to act. The future is calling upon us to see problems in front of us, and decide for ourselves to fix them.

But there’s more to it.

It’s not enough to think that we use less electricity, that we don’t drive too much, and so we’ve done enough. We must come together in community, doing together what none of us can accomplish alone.

So, whaddya think? Wanna join me in this little one week experiment of toe-dipping into more eco-friendly living? Then register HERE.

For those who live in the Lancaster, PA area, you can choose to join the LIVE Green group that has already been set up. Just click on the drop down menu next to the question “Would you like to join an open group?”

Friends and family in other places might find groups that have already been started in your area. Check the drop down box on the registration page. Or start your own group.

Let’s cheer each other on.



If you’d like to check out the trailer for the documentary No Impact Man, click here

And you can read Colin’s full YES! Magazine article here

Posted by Melanie Tagged as: sustainability

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