Monday, April 23, 2007

What's Your Impact?

I will admit that I'm not very environmentally minded. To me, green is the color of the grass and Jim's car and a bad diaper. However, I've been fascinated by a blog I ran across called "No Impact Man".

No Impact Man, his wife, a two-year-old daughter and a dog live in a one-bedroom, 750 sq. foot apartment in NYC. They're trying for one year to live while causing "no net environmental impact."

Go ahead...ask the stupid question like I did, "What the heck is no net environmental impact?" No Impact Man describes it best:

To do this, we will decrease the things we do that hurt the earth—make trash, cause carbon dioxide emissions, for example—and increase the things we do that help the earth—clean up the banks of the Hudson River, give money to charity, and rescue sea birds.

In mathematical terms, in case you are an engineer or just a geek who likes math, we are trying to achieve an equilibrium that looks something like this:

Negative Impact + Positive Impact = Zero.
No net impact. Get it?

Now, here's where the rubber meets the road. No Impact Man admits he is an environmentally minded liberal who decided to put his money where his mouth is. Instead of just talking about how people should take better care of the environment, he decided to put those words into action. And thus started this project.

Here's his plan:

We’re taking a year to do this thing (starting the end of November, 2006) and it’s working in stages. Stage one was figuring out how to live without making garbage: no disposable products, no packaging, etc. Stage two was figuring out how to cause the least environmental impact with our food choices. Stage three is figuring out how to reduce our consumption to only what is necessary and how to do that sustainably. The whole thing gets harder and harder as we add each stage.

In less than 5 months, this family has already worked through the self-propelled transportation, no trash, local and seasonal food, and sustainable purchasing stages. In just a couple of weeks they'll begin the no electricity phase followed by sustainable water use.

Of course, No Impact Man has another motivation for doing this experiment: a book and movie deal. He is a writer and is chronicling this journey, and a film crew follows them around daily filming the documentary that will show if it is possible to live a no impact life.

It's a fascinating read and, if you are environmentally-minded you'll love his ideas for living a more "green" life.


Anonymous said...

I read about this family in the NY Times a month ago. Crazy. I switched to recycled tp months ago, but I'm not going without!


weavermom said...

It is fascinating - thanks for the link.

I was wondering how he was going to keep blogging and keep the cameras going - but it looks like there is a solar thingy he can use. Odd, but kinda cool. :)