Thursday, May 17, 2012

No Impact Man!

I rented the documentary film No Impact Man from the library recently, and last night I watched it.  If you haven't heard of it, it's about a man and his family living in New York City that decided to waste less and go without their regular luxuries for an entire year - not only to see the impact that it made on the planet, but how it would effect others - and to see if it was even possible to live that green!  

Here is the trailer: 

Honestly, I thought the film was very inspiring.  I think a lot of people are intimidated by making green choices in their lives, and they think that they need to go to the extreme like he did.  But really, it doesn't take much.  And after watching this film, I realized I could be doing more. 

I have been doing things little-by-little to make my life more green, and to tread lightly on the earth.  
Here are a few things that I've taken on over the past 5-years or so (that you could do too if you feel inspired!): 

- I went vegetarian (Meat production is one of the biggest pollutants on the planet)

- I stopped driving my car so much (I try to bike / walk as much as possible, and if I need to go farther ride my scooter)

- I bring a to-go cup with me to coffee shops and have them fill it (instead of wasting a paper cup)

- I always carry a re-useable water bottle

- I bring my own bags to the grocery store at all times (even if I have to walk back to the car because I forgot them), and if I don't have a bag with me I still ask for no plastic bag (and try to shove everything in my purse instead)

- I try to turn off lights and unplug appliances as much as I can (I'm always following John around the house and switching off lights as I go)

- I've started buying beans, rice, and other foods in bulk to save on packaging 

- I go to the Farmer's Market during summer & fall for all of my fruits & veggies, and buy local

- Most of the time I follow the toilet-flushing rule of "yellow, let it mellow - brown, flush it down" to cut back on water waste

- John and I have started composting our food scraps

- I have made the move to washable cloth handkerchiefs (instead of tissues, even though John still thinks it's gross)  

- I try to shop at thrift stores or do clothing exchanges instead of buying new clothing and accessories 

- We use cloth napkins, cloth dish towels, and sponges as much as possible (instead of paper towels)

- I buy natural cleaning products (although after watching this film I realized it's frustrating that we can't re-fill  them, and I'm still using a lot of packaging)

- I make my own vegetable broth now instead of buying the packaged kind with our leftover veggie scraps.  I keep them in the freezer in a container until I have enough to boil, then after using them I put them in re-used glass jars, and compost the scraps!

Just to name a few things! 

But after watching this movie, I realized there's still more that I could be doing.  I mean, I know that I work hard at being green and not being wasteful.  As the film pointed out, we're a consumer culture - and right now we have all been taught since childhood to throw things away because it's unsanitary not to.  We're a disposable culture, and it's killing our planet.  

No Impact Man (Colin Beavan), and his adorable little girl!

I guess it made me think of the other things that I could be working on more.  I need to stop using the damn plastic bags that are provided for bulk products, and for produce.  Ugh - plastic everywhere!!  For something that we make so disposable, why do we make it out of PLASTIC - that NEVER decomposes!!  It doesn't make any sense.  I'm going to get mesh / cheesecloth bags to bring with me from now on instead, and just keep them with my grocery bags.  

Also, even though it takes a while for us to use them, I hate that we still get paper towels.  We could easily get some more dish towels and re-use them over & over - just wash them in between!  I'm going to work on that too. 

I want to ride my bike / walk more.  I already do it a lot, but I'm going to make less excuses about it.  I want my scooter to be last resort, and I want my car to be VERY last resort (I mean, hailing or a freakin' snowstorm. Or if I'm being chased by bears).  I want to take the train instead of driving, and carpool more as well. 

I also would like to work on buying less packaged goods.  I feel like I've made a big step over the past few years with making the move to non-canned beans (and cooking them myself from bulk), but I'd like to move towards also making my own spaghetti sauce (which is pretty darn easy), and my own soups more often too.  It's not hard to do these things, it just takes a little planning!  And I'm pretty good at planning (most of the time). ;)

And last (but not least), I would like to work harder at eating seasonally, and buying locally as much as possible.  I am pretty good about this with fruit as I usually don't even like how fruit tastes when it's out of season.  But I could be better about my veggies, and learn how to love my root veggies in the winter time, and wait for the peaches when they come in season!  

Now, if only I could figure out how to get John to cut back on eating so many bananas! ;)  

What are YOU doing to help the planet, and make things better for the next generation? 

Here is a link to the No Impact Man blog for more information!

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