So Jeff and I watched an interesting movie tonight that actually made me want to make some changes to how we do things in our home. I will admit that I wasn’t stoked on watching it–not because it looked bad, I just wasn’t in the mood for a documentary, but I’m glad we ended up watching it. The movie is called “No Impact Man,” and is basically the project of one man to have him and his family live for a year without making any net impact: no trash, no energy consumption, etc. Sounds crazy, right? I still don’t know how his wife agreed! (I also wonder how this guy ended up being a “traditional” family man…I think you’ll know what I mean if you watch the movie ;) ). But she did, and they did, and there’s a movie to prove it.
Other than being entertaining to watch, it made me think about what small things we can each do in our lives to make less of a negative impact on our environment. I know I’m not going to give up electricity as a whole, or get rid of my TV, but I’m sure there are things I can do that in the aggregate might make a small difference. The main protagonist in the film says that if you are going to do just one thing, it should be to get involved with a conservation project in your community: he thinks getting back to our sense of community is crucial.
I think most of us know of the obvious things we can do to have less impact:
- don’t use bottled water. Use a container that’s washable and reusable. “30 billion plastic water bottles are thrown away every year. Plastic can take up to a thousand years to disintegrate.”
- lay off the plastic bags: instead of just leaving your Ralph’s bag in the car, remember to take it down and use it instead of using plastic bags (I suffer from this a lot)
- use energy efficient light bulbs and household appliances (it took me over a minute to come up with the word “appliances”)
Here are some things that might not be as obvious:
- did you know you can reduce your junk mail in your physical (not cyber) mailbox by calling places and asking them not to mail you stuff? I definitely need to do that. “Junk mail produces 1 billion pounds of landfill each year.”
- support local farmers. I need to go to the farmers market more often.
- recycle, reuse, reduce. I’m pretty sure this was standard elementary education, but we tend to forget. I don’t see myself making my own compost, but I would like to be more active in recycling stuff–not just plastics, cans and aluminum, but general stuff around the house.
- be more vegan. this one I’m really not sure I can do. I love bacon. I love a good burger every now and then. But then again, “animal agriculture emits more global warming gases into the air than does transportation.” huh.
These are all pretty mild and tame ways of helping out. I recommend watching the movie to see what challenges you think you might be able to handle.
I do want to point out an interesting scene: the protagonist is talking to his wife during a period of frustration with his project wondering, why is he really doing this? Is it really making any difference? Towards the end, he goes on to explain that if we each get one person to change something in their lifestyle, then we are all making a difference. I thought it was especially interesting given my recent soul searching for my career. I’ve yet to delve into this and make any serious analysis or conclusion of it, but thought it was oddly similar to what I’ve been wondering about my desire to pursue public interest.
What do you do to reduce your global impact? What are your ideas?