Can We Leave No Impact?

I've got green thoughts swirling around my brain. No, not the green thoughts of money or thoughts of envy. They are green thoughts of greywater systems and backyard chickens and vermiculture and food miles.

Just months ago, "going green" was an idyllic, faddish notion that I bought into but didn't really understand. It meant recycling and shopping with a canvas bag and buying local honey. But now, as I sit here writing this post under the warmth of a flannel blanket so I can conserve energy, I'm seriously contemplating washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar and feeling guilty for letting perfectly clean water run down the drain as I let my shower warm up this morning.

And I'm struggling on a mental level because I don't want to give up my everyday, wasteful conveniences. I don't want to think that the shampoo I use is killing fish in the ocean or that the packaging around my favorite cookies will sit in a landfill for eternity or that the boots that I just bought and love cost goodness knows how much in carbon emissions to get to me. These are all things I could give up and replace with more sustainable options, but I'm physically having a hard time jumping that hurdle.


According to Colin Beavan, I'm just doing my citizen duty. Not needing something, but wanting it anyway is what it means to be a good American, he says.

Colin is the No Impact Man. (Maybe you read his book or saw him on The Colbert Report.)

He and his family lived a year of sustainability. They cut the trash out of their life (literally) by becoming consumer conscious, they ate local food, they gave up wasteful transportation. They even gave up electricity for six months! YIKES!

While I'll never strive for this version of the green life, these sorts of actions make me think. (As they should you.) What crap do we have in our lives that's hurting our Earth and our own health? What little steps can we take to change?

Contemplate these thoughts with me.

So maybe we aren't bigwigs in Copenhagen debating climate change. But pretty soon I will test the baking soda "no-poo" method of washing my hair and you'll replace your trashcan with a worm bin. (Or maybe you won't.) Anyway, we've got to do something, right? Is it possible to make no impact?


Emily said...

I think we can all do a better job of lessening our impact. Starting now. I read your post at work and immediately dug through my trash can and pulled out the paper/recyclable things. I now have three items in there and I am looking at a styrofoam plate feeling extremely guilty.

I might try the shampoo idea for health reasons. There was an interesting artilce on the NYT today that is along the same lines: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/opinion/06kristof.html

That Kind of Girl said...

I love this post! I tried the no-'poo movement a while ago and held out about three weeks, but it didn't work well with my hair. Still, now I'm down to shampooing only once a week with an eensy-weensy drop of shampoo (and conditioning two or three times a week with much less conditioner than I used to use, also.)

Obviously no one can be totally environmentally aware all the time, but I do believe we can all take time to figure out what we can't budge on, and then try to work harder on all the other stuff. Like I'm just too broke to eat local and organic, but in exchange for that, at least I can only take public transportation, never use paper towels, line dry laundry, not shower daily, etc. etc. As long as we're conscious of the environment the majority of the time, I believe we can make a difference!