Day One: Buy less stuff

I joined the No Impact Project Experiment, a truncated version of Colin Beaven’s experience living with zero impact on the planet. In New York City. The experiment was “only” 7 days–a “one-week carbon cleanse”. All I had to do was follow the downloadable (please don’t print!) How-To-Manual. How hard could it be? I am, after all, already very eco-conscious—some in my neighborhood might even consider me a hippy or an over-the-top crazed enviro-maniac.

Let me tell you what happened…

Day One: CONSUMPTION
Challenge: Live a fuller and happier life by buying less stuff.

Ninety-nine percent of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, transport—99% of the stuff we run through this production system is trashed within 6 months. Annie Leonard, “The Story of iStock_shopperStuff.” (Side note: this is a short video well worth watching!)

If that stat doesn’t stop you dead in your tracks from shopping for something you don’t really “need”, I don’t know what will. We did NOT purchase one thing on Day One, nor did we hop in the car. We have a couple of distinct advantages:

  1. My husband has been laid off since December ’08, so we’re already in the not-buying-anything-unless-we-really-need-it mode. We buy food and that’s about it.
  2. I hate shopping.

From an overall consumption standpoint, we did very well. We did not get in the car even though I had to drop something off at a friend’s about 2 miles away. Instead, I hoofed it over –ran, actually–and my son rode his bike. Exercise and errand rolled into one.

Our downfall: NYTimes Sunday edition delivery. My husband is from NY and I have been unsuccessful in eliminating this paper from our lives. I have to admit, there’s something about curling up on the couch, going through the sections. I devour the Week in Review and save the Times Magazine for bed-time reading. He gets his sports page and biz section fix (notice how those received low caps). There is still quite a bit of paper wasted—I wish we could just request the sections we actually read.

For you shop-a-holics (you know who you are!), this will be challenging. But try it for a day. See how it makes you feel. Here’s some tips to reduce shopping:

  • replace shopping with an activity that you enjoy doing more
  • stop. ask yourself how long/often you plan to use it and what you’ll do without it
  • make your own body and cleaning products
  • try to fix things that break instead of running out to replace it
  • set up a neighborhood borrowing club — ie, if your lawn mower breaks, see if someone is willing to lend theirs. a lawn mower gets used only once a week … why should every single household in the neighborhood own one? What about ladders and other infrequently used items? [our vacuum cleaner isn’t currently working and this is a necessity, but I really don’t want to buy one right now. so, I’m hoping to borrow one for a while].
  • join freecycle.org — people list stuff they’re getting rid of, all you have to do is pick it up. No charge. You can list stuff, too!
  • learn to hate shopping

What are your tips to not shopping?

Sign up for the No Impact Project experiment.

Day Two: Consider all trash bins OFF LIMITS!
Day Three: Burn calories not fossil fuels
Day Four: Healthy eating to lessen your “foodprint”
Day Five: Replace kilowatts with ingenuity
Day Six: Use Less Water
Day Seven: Pay it forward

One Response

  1. I admire your initiative! I’d love to have my family do the same.
    http://350now.wordpress.com/

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