No Impact Week

Yes! Magazine is hosting a week long version of No Impact Experiment based on Colin Beavan’s experience of having no environmental impact while living in New York City for an entire year. While a one week commitment isn’t that long, we felt we just couldn’t do it justice as laid out. While the main purpose of the experiment is to increase awareness in one’s impact on the environment, it is more important to create habits that lower or eliminate various impacts. We felt that we could spend one week focusing on each day’s theme. We also thought that we are doing a pretty good job with our current habits and this experiment gives us the opportunity to evaluate where we are in our environmental impact. For sure we are going to be using some of the exercises to identify and quantify our impacts.

What we are currently doing:

  • Bring our own reusable grocery bags shopping
  • Recycle all paper that can be recycled
  • Recycle all allowed plastics at our curbside
  • Turn off lights when not needed
  • Trip planning – multiple errands in one trip
  • Carry water bottles
  • Sometimes bike or walk to get groceries
  • Use a rain barrel for the garden
  • Wash and reuse our sandwich bags
  • Composting
  • Keith bikes to work
  • Kyle and Kate walk to school
  • Have swapped out most of our lighting to compact fluorescents
  • Use a High Efficiency washer and dryer
  • Sold our second car and the remaining one gets 36mpg City
  • Use a programmable thermostat to turn down the heat at night and when we aren’t home
  • Use the light wash & no heat dry setting on the dishwasher
  • Got off mailing lists for yellow pages and catalogs
  • Almost exclusively vegetarian
  • Buy organic food where available
  • Use an electric mower
  • Started a vegetable garden
  • Installed low flow shower heads
  • Our electricity usage is 100% offset with wind and hydropower
  • Employ electronic bill payment
  • Take advantage of paperless bills
  • Only flush the toilet when we have to

What we can improve on:

  • Bring our own bulk bags when grocery shopping
  • Change our grocery list to highlight the bulk items so we bring enough bags
  • Concentrate on buying bulk items
  • Caulk around the chimney
  • Wrap the water heater
  • Cook in bulk and freeze portions for lunches of leftover meals
  • Set up paperless bill for mortgage
  • Autopay water bill (if possible)
  • Add grocery bags/bulk bags to Keith’s bike gear
  • Disconnect our last downspout
  • Add more rain barrels
  • Put in soaker hoses
  • Bake more bread, biscuits crackers, scones, cookies, etc.

Of course the biggest trash/recycling generator is food packaging. We have always been in need of better dinner making, so meal planning with a focus on raw and bulk foods would drastically reduce our trash/recycling footprint.