Sunday, April 4, 2010

Becoming the "Less Impact Fam(ily)"

I am a fan of self-improvement.  I love to learn and experiment and explore.  I read a lot, I try new things, I refuse to stagnate.  One of my relaxation treats is to watch documentaries.  Lately they have been on food (Food, Inc., Future of Food, King Corn, Earthlings), social and cultural issues and environmentalism.  These have always been some of my favorite topics so it was great to watch No Impact Man which combines all of these topics.

What is so neat about watching this movie is that I had read the No Impact Man blog during the time he was embarking on this "experiment".  If you aren't familiar with the blog or the movie, Colin embarked on a year-long trial with his wife and child to see how little they could impact the earth.  This means they tried to only eat locally, cut out trash, stopped using chemical cleaners, phased out electricty and got around using their own two feet, bicycles or scooter.

The documentary had an inspirational influence on me.  We do our best here to lighten our load on the environment. We're vegan for starters, which does create a huge reduction but we also try to be good about the recycling, reusable bags, making stuff from scratch a lot and only one of us commutes to work.  We have a high efficiency washer & dryer and only do about 6 loads a month.  We haven't used a dishwasher in 10 years. So all that isn't bad to start.  But after watching the documentary, we're inspired to try and push ourselves to do a bit more.

So, what are we going to put into place?  Well...

 - Eliminate eating out, especially take out, unless we're going out for a social occassion with friends or family

 - Reduce/Eliminate food packaging by buying in bulk, making stuff on our own (granola for cereal, bread, tomato sauce, almond milk, veggie/bean burgers, etc.) and freezing or storing it in reusable containers. Bring our own reusable bags for shopping and bulk and produce buying.

 - Remove our names from all catalogs and ask our banks and bills to go paperless.

 - Stop buying commercial cleansers and make ours from natural options including borax, castile soap, baking soda and vinegar

 - Use up all of our current stock of food items and personal care items before buying more

 - Stop using paper towels (except for pet messes) and swiffer cloths. Instead use sponges and cloth towels, cloth napkins and broom, dust pan and steam mop

 - Cut down our overall consuption (HUGE issue!)

 - Borrow or barter before buying

 - Attempt to reuse/refill packaging before recycling

 - Sell or donate items that are just taking up physical and mental space.  If they are not getting actively used they need to go.

 - Low energy evenings.  This means turing out the lights and turning off the TV/games at dusk.  We will relax, read, etc.  We don't need or want so much sensory input all the time.

 - Hold out on turning on the AC or heaters.  It's cool in the house now with the windows open, the fans on and the attic fan on.  It was above 80 degrees today and we still felt okay in the house.  Our goal is to see how long we can go into May before it gets too warm inside.

 - Create and maintain our garden.  Keep composting but do more such as using our bean soaking water to water the plants.

 - Buy most of our produce from the farmer's market.  We pretty much do this any ways but we want to be better about eating seasonally.

 - Install a clothes line to dry some of our laundry

 - Work on house projects we have the stuff for but have been putting off.

It seems like a lot but I don't think it will be that difficult.  These are all things we like and want to do but we just have not sat down and decided to to do them.  We have a few things we need to put into place, like the clothing line and some window fans, but these are all doable. 

We'll keep you informed with what's working and what isn't.  What are something you would like to do or suggest to us?


Meg said...


We've been doing a lot of those things already, but started little by little. I was so excited when the meter reader guy came today because he said we are way below average on energy usage :D

We hang dry most of our clothes on a pipe in the laundry room, but I've been na.. gently and frequently reminding my husband that I would love a clothesline outside for some of the bulkier items. One of the benefits of hang drying is that it's so much gentler on the clothes!

I'd like to switch to using rags for our kitty messes as that's 80% of our paper towel usage currently, but haven't gotten up the nerve yet. I need to turn the t-shirt I'm wearing right now into a rag, lol. Maybe convert a bucket into a dedicated "really nasty rags" bin -- as opposed to the one we have right now for just normal towel usage.

I also want to get some handkerchiefs, especially for the hubby, since he currently uses most of the remaining paper towels for that.

We haven't given up all eating out, but we have been reducing it and we have very little packaging from grocery shopping these days. It's mostly the cartons that my DH's soy milk comes in, bread bags, some Gardein bags, and Tofutti tubs. I'm tempted to get a soy milk maker, but I think we may try making some easier to make nut or rice milk first. I also want to try making bread again.

I really like the idea of low energy evenings. My DH often has to work in the evenings from home a lot on his computer and we like watching stuff together online, but I'd like to set a sort of curfew where we stop using the computers by a certain hour unless it's really necessary for work. That would also help us move our schedule around and save electricity for lighting.

Anyhow, I look forward to seeing how it goes! If you want to discuss even more...ahem...personal ways to go green, you know where to find me ;)

Kim_Office_Team said...

This was such a great post - and you've got some tremendous ideas for limiting your impact on the globe. I thought I'd point you to a resource that could help you in your quest to decrease your impact. Office Live Workspace could help you go paperless by allowing you to upload, share, and edit all your documents virtually. It works like a virtual thumb drive and you get 5GB of storage free. It's helpful because as long as you have an internet connection, you can access your files from anywhere. Learn more about it here: http://workspace.officelive.com/.

Hope this helps! Best of luck on your green journey.
Microsoft Office Live Outreach