After writing my thoughts about No Impact Man for my book blog, it reminded me of how much of an impact that book has had on my life.
As much as I would love to live without making any impact, or be able to balance out any impact I make, I know that is not possible. I don’t live in the middle of a large city with easy foot access to stores and work. I live 20 min from work by highway, in a ground floor apartment with my husband, not in the best part of town, and it’s Ohio. No, let me rephrase that last statement, it’s winter in Ohio. Winter in NYC probably has a totally different meaning than winter in Ohio. The roads are in no condition for biking on, at least not without getting sprayed periodically with melt from the roads which are full of dirt and salt. Also it’s definitely too cold out to bike almost anywhere right now.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t do anything. As Colin would point out throughout his book, every little thing makes a difference. So we have the heat set at 70 degrees and use blankets and add layers if we’re cold. We’re going to get blackout curtains for around the patio doors to keep the drafts out and the heat in. They’re not getting sealed because it’s where some of our friends go outside to smoke and, when the weather permits, how I go out to do laundry. I may use my car to go everywhere, but I try to combine trips into one. Like, instead of going to the library last night after I got home, I’m stopping by on the way home tonight. My Saturdays start off with a winding trip that has included stopping by the bank, taking recycling to the dumpster, going to Whole Foods, and stopping by the library on the way home. But I’m hoping to get a bike when I get my tax return so I can do little things like going to the bank, the library, and even friends, without using the car. I may even look into using the bus to get to a certain point and then going the rest of the way by bike for some things.
One thing that has really changed since starting the book has been my attitude toward the Rs. I keep slipping into the mentality that puts the last R, recycle, as the most important. I’ve been slowly shifting myself into putting them in the right priority: reduce, reuse, recycle. It makes so much more sense. If you reduce how much you use, that has a chain reaction of reducing:less energy is needed to process the waste (whether recycled or trash), less energy is needed to package the product, less packaging is needed, less energy is needed to make the packaging, and less resources are needed to make the packaging. That should be our priority. Then, if you do need something, if you get it in a reusable container, that reduces everything as well. It’s not as much as just reducing, but a new product isn’t needed because you’re reusing the old one. Then, if all else fails, you should recycle something. It’s really listed in descending order of how much the action reduces your impact on the planet! When did we loose sight of this?
So instead of buying more 100% recycled aluminum foil to line pans with, we got a new baking pan that is big enough to fit our reusable silicone baking mat. I bought a glass food container to start packing hot meals in for lunch. This way I don’t have to use my plastic food containers in the microwave, and it helps me to reduce the amount of prepackaged and fast food I buy every week. I’m also recycling every little bit I can. If I can be washed and recycled, it is. We usually have one or two full kitchen trash bags full of recycling at the end of the week. It feels good.
I still want to do more. But I’ll leave that for another post. I’ve rambled on long enough! 😉