Back in 2009, we watched this crazy documentary about a New Yorker who set out to have zero impact on the earth through his consumption, transportation and every other part of his life. He called himself "No Impact Man" and made a documentary about his year long experiment to reduce his strain on the earth's resources. He was married and had a kid, and the entire family participated in this experiment with him. It was really fascinating to watch his family eat locally in New York City at the farmers market, ride their bikes to drop their daughter off at preschool and live without electricity. They stopped using a washing machine, re-purposed their plastic bottles and cancelled all newspaper and magazine subscriptions. As the year went on and they struggled with living a new life and giving up their luxuries, they discovered something. They discovered that this simpler life made them happier. Because so many things were gone in this new "no-impact-life," they could enjoy each other and friends and life, because all of those "things" they got rid of had been distractions in their former life. The documentary is truly inspiring and I look forward to watching it again on Netflix soon.
1. Just don't go to the store. It is amazing how much you won't buy if you don't set foot into a place where they sell stuff. It seems too simple, but this has really helped me reduce my spending.
2. Avoid advertisements. If you don't know there are new products out there, you won't want to buy them.
3. Re-purpose old items. There are many things we have in our houses that can be re-purposed with a little creativity to serve a function you need instead of buying a new item. Check out pinterest for some inspiration.
4. Borrow. Send out a Facebook or Twitter shout out and just ask if someone would let you borrow the thing you need.
5. Be inspired by The Zero Waste Home tips. Seriously. This blog suggests many, many ways to reduce your consumption and environmental impact. There are things on there I would have never thought about. Watch this little video blurb about her family and be inspired.
Dealing with Trash
1. After reducing consumption, re-purpose and then recycle. Bea Johnson of The Zero Waste Home calls it the 5 R's: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recyle, Rot. Trash should be the last step in the process.
2. Make bottle bricks. I just discovered this today and am excited! They are being used in Central America to build schools, buildings, benches and more. This is a project I want to undertake when we have a bit more margin. Can we say bottle brick backyard bench?
3. Compost. Even if you don't garden, take your veggie scraps, buy some worms and let them do what nature started.This is on my to-do list for this spring, aka now.
4. Go electronic with papers. Instead of having bills and notifications sent to you, have them sent electronically and keep a digital copy. This reduces the amount of trash you produce! This is another one that is simple to do, and I need to do it now.
1. Buy local meat. The amount of fossil fuels that are needed to produce chicken, beef and pigs is alarmingly high. One day I will write a blog post about this very subject, but if you are curious, do some research. Meat purchased at the grocery store costs the environment loads. If you live in the central Florida area, I would be happy to help with this.
2. Shop at the farmers market. Support local artisans, farmers and entrepreneurs. Let your money speak for you by support something that does not need to be shipped from across the world, thereby reducing the amount of fossil fuels it took to put that product in your hand.
3. Support local store. Instead of visiting Home Depot, go to a local Ace Hardware. Eat out at a local pizza joint instead of Carrabbas. Find a local vender instead of purchasing the item on Amazon.
These little changes we are doing now help. They may be little, but they help and that is what we are going for. I am sure there is more I am forgetting to include, since this Barber Basic has not become fully assimilated into our lives yet. But with our lights going out in less then 10 minutes for Earth Hour, I must conclude.
What changes have you made for the environment? I'd love to know! I am always looking for new ideas and practical advice! Please share in the comments below.
Here is a video from Earth Hour 2012.