No Impact Week: I Join a Global Experiment in Sustainable Living

NoImpactManInspired by best-selling No Impact Man, on Sunday I joined other world citizens to commit to a week of no-impact living. Over the course of eight days, my husband and I will attempt to follow the project’s guided steps and 1) consume less, 2) create less trash, 3) use less transportation, 4) eat locally, 5) reduce energy use, 6) use less water, 7) get involved with an environmental group, and 8) reflect on it all.

You can get involved, too! I signed up online. After that, the project provided me with an online guide containing detailed instructions for the week—with strict orders that it not be printed, of course. According to the helpful tips, as we progress through the week, we’re supposed to gradually decrease our environmental footprint, eliminating as we go.

The project asked me to set a goal for myself: Maybe I’ll discover new ways to produce less garbage.

On Sunday, the project challenge was to consume less. As a concept, this seemed easy enough. I don’t need any new clothes. I can live without a trip to the book store. Problem is: Sunday is my errand day. I needed toilet paper, toothpaste, and food. What’s a girl to do?

Thankfully, the project recognizes the reality of our lives. They offer the option to buy greener products (like recycled toilet paper) if we must shop, or go to the thrift store for items that might be salvaged anew. They also recommend crossing off any items on the list that aren’t 100% essential (I guess I don’t need that chocolate bar). Maybe we can live without them after all.

Delightfully, when it comes to food, the No Impact project is very pro-farmers’ market. After all, you’re reducing your fuel footprint when you buy locally, because your produce is driving in from a farm nearby rather than flying in on a plane from Ecuador. So, on the first day of my experiment, I shopped at the farmers’ market. I skipped the plastic bags offered and simply dropped the produce into my cloth bags instead.

I wasn’t quite as accomplished in my efforts at the grocery store. I made a point of buying products made in California, but the olives came in aluminum cans that I’ll have to recycle. The beans, too. I should have purchased them from the bulk bins, but this store didn’t have any.

Yet, my day wasn’t a total loss. I gained personally from the experiment. By purchasing only what I absolutely needed, I saved a bundle on my bill. Being green is cheap!

Monday, day two, the challenge was to reduce my trash. Of course, for years now my husband and I have discussed building a compost bin, which has yet to materialize. This is the first set of strikes against me.

Secondly, I’m coming down with a cold. I’ve been using a lot of tissue on my runny nose, which piles up in the trash amazingly quickly! The project guidelines suggest cutting up old t-shirts to replace napkins and tissue. I think it’s time I say goodbye to the well-worn pajama shirt I’ve been wearing since high school. It will now make many hankies. It will probably be softer on my nose, too.

I didn’t fail miserably, despite my tissue snafu. While making a sandwich for my husband to take to work, I reached for a plastic zip top bag. Then, remembering the day’s challenge, I instead dropped the bagel inside a cottage cheese container I had washed. After that, I decided to move my plastic baggies out of the kitchen altogether. Out of sight; out of mind. Score one win against the landfill at least.

Also, building on Sunday’s test, I did not purchase anything. Zilch. Nada. Another small victory!

This No Impact Week challenge isn’t easy, but I feel better for trying. Wish me luck! I’ll be writing throughout the week. Check back to read my tales. And join me! Saving the planet is always better with friends.

2 thoughts on “No Impact Week: I Join a Global Experiment in Sustainable Living”

  1. “According to the helpful tips, as we progress through the week, we’re supposed to gradually decrease our environmental footprint, eliminating as we go.”

    Is that so others will be able to more clearly see their own footprints?


  2. I have discovered a new product from a local start up green energy company that I think you all will love. The product is Garbogone and you can buy it at The packets are thrown into your garbage bag before taking it to the curb. The packs ingredients speed the rate at which your garbage decomposes which reduces the amount of space it takes up in the landfill and then produces landfill gas which is being used as a clean renewable energy source. We will never run out of garbage so we will always have a supply of this energy source. Give it a try! For less than a buck a bag it’s worth it to make a difference.


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