Can you imagine what life would be like if you lived it so that none of your actions had an impact on the environment? It would have to be pretty crazy, right? Well, wonder no longer – someone’s tried that. No Impact Man is a book + movie about a guy who decided to live off the grid and tailor all of his actions so that he didn’t leave an impact on the environment. Not only did he try this experiment for a year – but he did it with his wife and toddler, in the middle of New York City.
No Impact Man is a hilarious story that has eco-lessons for all of us. It takes a crazy story like Colin’s to capture our attention and realize that a lot that has to do with sustainability is actually within our reach: like buying local food, commuting by bike (or skateboard?) and washing your clothes in the tub. It also shows the perspective of an Earth-savior battling through the 21st century (Colin) and the perspective of someone who’s not all that crazy and just wants to go through the motions of life without harming the environment too much in the process (Colin’s wife). Part of the reason I love this book so much is because of it shows the dynamics of Earth-saving between people, social interactions, media, and family.
This true story is certainly inspiring and encouraging to everyone who is crazy enough to think they can change the world. It’s available in book format (Colin’s perspective) or in a documentary (shows everyone’s perspective and interviews). Both are worth taking a look at in my opinion because they show different mentalities and philosophies. I’d love to have the chance to see what life would be like if no one had an impact on the environment, and Colin’s experiment shows us just how real (or not, I’m not spoiling the end!) that can be. It’s a must-read for Earth-saviors and for those who are interested in a good, true, and somewhat moralizing story.
An eroded iceberg in Greenland. If all the ice in Greenland melted, the oceans would rise by seven meters. Source: Yann Arthus-Bertrand
A lot of the world’s problems came to be because…well…people didn’t plan ahead. Continue reading
Sunrise seen from 175 miles above the Earth. Source: NASA, 1996
Happy March! As sun begins to rise earlier, I find myself not using the light switch as much in the morning. Not only is it nice to walk to my car in a sunlit road instead of groping my way through the dark – it saves electricity!
As the sun rises even earlier, we should take advantage of the available sunlight and rise earlier with the sun to perform our daily tasks using the natural light that’s available, instead of artificial light. Getting up early to use more natural light is compensated of course by going to sleep earlier and using less electricity at night. This is where the idea of Daylight Savings (the period of time where our clocks jump forward to accomodate the sunlight) was born. Adapting one’s schedule to use more sunlight and less electricity makes complete sense for an Earth-savior. Here’s why:
- Using more sunlight and saving electricity is good for the planet because it means using less fossil fuels and producing less CO2.
- Natural light has Vitamin D and more good stuff than artificial light, like the ones that come from computers that don’t let us sleep at night.
- Regulating your body clock to use more natural sunlight fixes insomnia as your body begins to release more melatonin (a hormone that induces sleep) when the sun sets. This happens if you’re in tune with the sun, and not bombarded with other light sources after the sun sets, like from electronics. It also helps you to wake up when your body perceives sun rays in the morning.
- Sunlight is good for your emotional and mental well-being (for example, lack of sunlight is related to higher suicide rates)
- Rising with the sun allows you to listen to the birds more – if you love birds, this is an extra benefit.
- If you pay your own electricity bill, you’ll notice the difference too – getting up with the sun is cheaper, too!
My brother makes fun of me for being sleepy shortly after sunset, but I love getting up early in the morning and being in sync with the sun. Something about seeing more of the sun every day feels right to me. After all, it’s the energy source for all life on Earth – it makes sense to appreciate it more!
Who here doesn’t love the idea of owning a personal library? Having a book collection is a symbol of how much knowledge you have, how “wordly” you are, or how much effort you put into understanding the world. There’s something about owning books that makes all that knowledge yours.
But in reality, how many times will you use a book? Maybe once, twice? (Sometimes not at all!) Once you’ve read a book, do you really need to keep that book? Isn’t the knowledge inside it more important?
That’s my understanding as I progress towards having less books and leaning more on my local library. I don’t need to have fresh, new, smelling-like-it-just-came-from-the-printer books. I need what’s inside them. That’s why I believe that having book collections is a thing of the past and what we need now are community libraries – a network of people that exchange all kinds of books. It’s better for the planet, and it’s better for the people.
So, to save the world, use a library instead of accumulating books! Lend out your own books, too. The less we buy, the less impact we have on the world, which really needs to be our goal as we produce WAY too much waste on the planet. Libraries only aren’t for books, either! You can find CDs, DVDs, and audio-book collections in libraries. And the variety of books you’ll find in a library is quite astonishing.
Dip your feet in the pools of knowledge and help make the world a better place by reading and encouraging people to read without creating an impact on the planet!
Washing laundry in a creek, in Ivory Coast. Source: Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Use clothes more than once to gain an ecological, sensible and economic habit! Here in my home, I’ll only wash clothes if I’m sure are dirty. That way, I have less to wash and fold, and I use less water and laundry detergent which is good for my wallet AND for the environment. By washing less, I’m polluting less, using less energy, and using less products that contain palm oilless products that contain palm oil. All together, this is a win-win situation for everyone. Continue reading
Gardens in Mali. Source: Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Not throwing away food is another simple lesson that is often disregarded. Unfortunately, we frequently take our food for granted, to the point where we’re even throwing it away. But that wasn’t always the case, and it’s another case where looking at the past can help us determine how we should act in the future. Also, like many eco-actions, not throwing food away not only is good for the environment, but it’s socially sustainable. Continue reading
Mount Fuji, Japan. Source: Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Yesterday when I was trawling through the Internet looking for another brave person that would endorse using a handkerchief instead of single-use tissues (by the way, I found her, and she’s amazing), I came across several little snipets and stories about the role of the handkerchief in Japanese culture. It would seem that the handkerchief in Japan is still in wide use, and what’s more, it’s out of practicity, not fashion! Continue reading