There is a wonderful film called No Impact Man (and there is a book version as well) that came out fairly recently about a N.Y. city family that spends a year exploring what it means to live without making any impact on the earth. They went to an extreme that most of us would never consider and after the year they did not maintain all of the changes that they experimented with for that year, but they did keep many of them, and their lives have probably been changed forever in a positive way.
If you can, see the film. You can even buy a copy of the film and book clicking on the Amazon link to the right.
Less Impact Living with SmartLifeways
So for the rest of us who want to do something to make less of an impact on the earth, where to start?
Here are a number of suggestions to get going. If much of this is new to you, pick one or two areas to get you started, let them become part of your daily routine and then add one or two more. If you already are doing some of these look for one or two more to incorporate in your life.
Before you know it you will be on your way to creating a smaller impact on the earth and knowing that you are part of the change to make our planet more livable for all of us.
REDUCE your trash: Buy in bulk. Bring your own to-go cups. Reduce buying things that come in plastic-see if you can buy it in glass instead and then reuse the glass container. Return egg cartons to farmers markets.
Compost. Here is a link that will give you a great overview on composting from what to compost, to how it works, and here is another link to an article entitled What to Compost: 88 Everyday Things to Compost (and 9 NOT to), need I say more? You will be a pro after these two articles. There are a lot of articles out there so you can go as deep as you would like into learning how to make your own “black gold”.
REUSE, and then RECYCLE (recycling uses a lot of energy so while it is beneficial try to first reduce and reuse).
The majority of trash in America comes from food packaging and food waste. Fresh food is much more nutritious and usually has no, or little, packaging.
When buying something new, ask yourself if you really need it, could you rent it, borrow it or buy it used? What will you do with the old one if you are replacing something. Can you donate it, sell it or give it away, rather than throwing it away.
Watch The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard if you haven’t already seen it. It is an amazing short animated film about where all of the stuff that we buy comes from, what it does to the earth and where it goes when we are finished using it. Over seven million people have watched it online.
Switch to cloth napkins. I recently read that if every person reduced buying paper napkins just one time, one million trees would be saved. That is a lot of trees, it is nice to use cloth napkins and you can use them quite a few times before washing them.
Use “clean” cleaning products-it protects your health, and the environment. They are more and more readily available-even stores like Target sell them now, or you can even make your own and save money. Here are some homemade cleaning ideas. I recently heard from Kelli at GroomAndStyle.com on the subject of green cleaning. She has a really diverse web site and this article on Joining the Green Cleaning Trend is fantastic. I love the graphics, they are inspiring just on their own, and easy to follow. You will find info on natural air fresheners as well as natural cleaning recipes and tips for every room. Take a look and get inspired to know what you are cleaning with and how to make your own cleaning supplies with simple ingredients.
Just as I was getting ready to make a mini-relaunch of SmartLifeWays I was contacted by JenReviews in New Zealand. On the subject of cleaning, this is a great article from them. You will find amazing details on how to clean anything and everything, from your floors to the air that you breathe, and clean your car, do your laundry and a lot more. There are also plenty of great homemade cleaning product ‘recipes’ so you can make it yourself and know exactly what is in your cleaning products. Be sure to check out the 13 Practical Cleaning Tips at the end of the article. I have been dealing with some health issues the last few years, and I have discovered there definitely are ways to make keeping your home clean and neat much easier.
Shop LOCAL. Support your farmers market or join a CSA (community sponsored agriculture), Local Harvest will help you to find one close by. More than likely what you buy will be “cide” (pesticide and herbicide) free and non-GMO. You will reduce the transportation ‘costs’ of food, which includes the fossil fuels used and the CO2 created (most conventional and now even much organic food travels over 1500 miles to market). You will be helping to create community and this supports crop diversity, which is really important-without it our food supply is vulnerable to pests and also disease. This is an informative piece on the implications of a disease outbreak from the Mother Nature Network
There is almost no food packaging when you buy direct from your local farmers. By supporting organic agriculture, or farmers who rarely use chemicals, you are protecting your health, but also saving on the use of petroleum based products (pesticides are made from petroleum products and big-Ag uses lots of fossil fuel), helping to clean up the ground water which is getting more and more polluted from the runoff from farms using chemicals and supporting local employment. Oh, and getting better tasting, fresher food!
BYOB-bring your own bag when shopping, and you can reuse those plastic bags for produce again and again.
Become aware of your energy use. Turn off lights, insulate, use CFL’s, put on a sweater. If you own your home see if there are renewable energy options-many states are offering tax incentives to make your home more energy efficient Use stairs (this is also good for your health), unplug appliances you rarely use, and turn off your computer when you are finished with it…let it rest at night just like you do.
One day a week see if there is an alternative to driving your car or maybe for just one errand a week to start.
Get involved, whatever that means to you. Educate yourself on why this is important. Talk about this with your friends, family, and co-workers.
Changing things will take all of our effort and not waiting until everyone else is doing it or we have to. Imagine, in San Francisco recycling is mandatory and that includes food waste for composting.
Take care of your health, your loved ones will be happier and so will you.
This is not about doing without, or going back to primitive living, but it is about creating more awareness and being responsible.
“There is away to get what we need, but now we must find it sustainably,”
Colin Beavon-No Impact Man