Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Is Your Impact?

Mom was back at the library last week and decided to finally bite the bullet and check this book out. She told me about the book when it was first published but for some reason she didn't want to read it. The book has since been made into a movie but instead of seeing the movie Mom has decided to read the book. I just don't get.

No Impact Man is not just a book and a movie, it's a movement. A movement that started as an offbeat project to live without making any net impact on the environment for one year. Think about what this means. No net impact means no trash, no carbon emissions, no plastics, no nothing. How is this possible? Is it possible?

Colin Beaven was just an ordinary guy who one day looked in the mirror and questioned the impact his life was having on the environment. Have you ever done this? You know that Mom has and does, probably more then she should. If everyone did this I wonder what the results would be. Would people care more or care less? Continue to live their lives the same or make changes? Or would they go over the edge and become No Impact Man?

The fact that Beaven decided to do the project is one thing but when you consider his location you'll wonder how he did it. Beaven, his wife, young daughter, and dog live in New York City. The biggest city in the US is where Beaven realizes he lives a life of convenience that isn't very convenient for the planet. Our lives are wrapped up in convenience from single use items to take out food. All that convenience has a huge impact on the environment.

But how to start the project? Jump in whole hog and eliminate everything? Go from riding the elevator, taking taxis, ordering take-out, drinking out of plastic water bottles, etc. to doing none of the above? Now that would just be crazy, even crazier than the project. Instead, Beaven decides to make changes in stages. Stage one: live without making garbage. Hmmm. How could that possibly be done? And for a whole year?

The entire project was documented on Beaven's blog. Step by step, changes were made, impacts lessened, and lessons learned. And then the movement started. People followed the blog, took actions similar to Beaven's, and spread the message. Then the book was published and more people joined the party. The movie soon followed and what started as a crazy idea has become a movement. A movement with a lot of impact.

Mom hasn't finished the book yet and she doesn't want me to give too much away. I will tell you that one of the first chapters is about garbage which is right up Mom's alley. The throwaway lifestyle that we've been leading cannot really been thrown away, can it? The garbage in your garbage can may just be garbage to you and I but if you look closely you will see resources. Resources thrown away, tossed aside. Everything we toss out is created using finite resources that can never be replaced. But how can we change?

Baby steps, right? Beaven's light bulb moment of the first day of the project occurred when he got up in the morning to blow his nose. He reached for a paper towel and realized that he couldn't create any garbage. After much soul searching, he understood the true impact the paper towel had on the environment. It's wasn't just a matter of creating garbage anymore, but a deeper understanding of the entire impact of using a single use item. One of Mom's favorite paragraphs occurs right at the end of the garbage chapter. I had Mom read it to me several times because it had such an impact on me.

Once I knew the facts, what I blew my nose on in the morning didn't feel so trivial to me anymore. To me, the paper towel began to represent my throwaway lifestyle. It represented the fact that we are trashing the planet's resources for conveniences that turn out not even to be convenient. It represented the fact that I had been, for years, using throwaway products that I'm not sure have really made me happier and certainly haven't made the planet happier.

Even though I don't blow my nose, I realized that this was my message. Once you know the facts, how can you not make changes? What is preventing you doing what you know is right? If we're all in this together, and you know we are, why aren't we trying to make the planet happier?

From buying recycled content toilet paper, to using reusable bags, to joining a CSA, there are so many little changes that we can make that will have huge positive impacts on the environment. Even though we've been taught to not sweat the small stuff, it's the small stuff that snowballs into big stuff. The big stuff gets bigger and before you know it we are in crisis mode. And no one wants to be there, trust me.

I know each and everypug out there can make changes. You guys have shown me that you care about each other and the planet. You care enough to read my blog and so many of you have made changes and taken actions based on what I've posted. Please don't ever forget that every little bit helps. The impact you make, be it positive or negative, is felt by everyone today and will be felt by everyone in the future.

The purpose of No Impact Man is to get us thinking, thinking about our impact. Thinking hopefully leads to making changes, which leads to a better lifestyle, which leads to a happier self. Mother Earth thanks you in advance for caring about each other and for caring about her. We can make her happier, I know we can.


THE PUGLET said...

Ooooooh - I heard an interview with the No Impact Man dude on NPR ages ago. I didn't know there was a book and a movie.

My human is superexcited about the book. Tomorrow it's our turn to library.

If you weren't already the world's wisest pug, you'd win the title with bit of this profound, uh, wisdom:

"Even though we've been taught to not sweat the small stuff, it's the small stuff that snowballs into big stuff."

Debbie said...

Interesting book - will check it out.

PugMoon - with, Bandit, Paisley, & Smokey pugs and their Mom Paula - PAPugMom said...

Wow, super great post. I may have to check that book out myself. I am such a paper towel user, hmmm, thinking of a replacement idea. Kind of like using cloth diapers instead of plastic ones. You keep me thinking!

dw said...

Hi Stubby! Once again you've provided invaluable information! I have not heard of that book, but I'll jot down the title and go check it out at the local library. I've been trying to make little changes since I moved into my condo a year ago. I no longer use those big plastic garbage bags, because it would take forever to fill them! I recycle so much now that I usually only throw out one small bag of garbage a week (I have lots of Target bags from before I used cloth bags, so I use those for garbage now). I also recycle all my newspaper and magazines, but not just recycle them -- there are fund-raising bins at the church I used to go to before I moved, and they get the money for each full bin. So instead of just tossing my newspapers and magazines in the blue recycle bin, I take them to the church when I'm heading that way (not a special trip so I'm not using more gas than necessary) and they not only get recycled but they help raise money. Thanks again, Stubby, for all your great ideas. Now you've got me thinking about tissue use to blow your nose. Maybe cloth hankies should make a comeback!


Hi Stubby,

That looks like a really good book but our mommy can't read!

Oh never mind, she can read but she's color blind! She thinks blue is pink! We're gonna give her a color wheel for her birthday.

Riley and Star.

Melissa and Emmitt said...

wow stubby!
this sis a fabouls post!

even small changes can make a big impact!

i love how you always help me look at something in a new way.

we are so lucky to have you!
m & e

Pearl said...

Sweet Stubby,
As always, a thought-provoking post. That book sounds really interesting! It definitely makes ya think!

Thanks for keeping us all informed. I hope you're having a good week. I think tonight's a good night for Popeye's!!


Stella, Gunther and Betty said...

As always, you and your parent makes us think! Butt, mom says no matter what, she's not turnin' into no Cheryl Crow and usin' only one square to wipe her hoo ha... that's where she's gotta draw the line.

Stella, Gunther and Betty

Winston (smilingpug) said...


Mum just announced that she now has an excuse to go to the bookstore. Looks like she may be making a purchase. I think this means that after watching all this olympic stuffs on tv I now have to hang out in the boring livingroom while she reads a book! BORING!


Stubby said...

Hi Puglet! That's so cool that you heard an interview with No Impact Man. That dude is totally famous.

I hope you got the book at the library and that you like it.

I don't believe I'm the world's wisest pug but I'm glad you liked my wisdom. I try, I really do.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Debbie! The book is super interesting and I'm glad you're going to check it out. No Impact Man really makes you think about your impact and everyone could pick up tips about how to lessen their impact by reading the book.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Paula & gang! I'm glad I'm keeping you thinking! The paper towel issue drives Mom crazy. She is constantly nagging Dad because he always reaches for paper towels instead of dish towels. Dish towels last a long time, paper towels just one time.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi dw! It sounds like you're making lots of great eco changes. I applaud you for what you're doing and I hope your actions inspire others to make changes too.

I think you'll really like the book because it makes you question what you've been doing, even though you may not realize what you've been doing isn't good for the planet. Like Mom always says "You don't know what you don't know."

It's funny you mention cloth hankies because Mom tells me her father always had one in his pocket. She thinks they should make a comeback or else the trees will boycott people!

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Riley & Star! I know your mom can read because she reads to you guys before you go to bed.

I think a color wheel would be a great gift. It must be hard to be color blind but I know you love her anyway.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Melissa & Emmitt! I love making you guys think about new ways of looking at things. There's so much to learn and share about things that 24 hours is not enough time each day to get everything done.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Pearly Poo! Thanks for commenting about Popeyes because Mom thinks it's just me that wants it all the time.

I didn't realize this post was so thought provoking but I guess it was. I'm in deep thinking mode this week due to the snow!

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Stella, Gunther & Betty! Loved your comment about Sheryl Crow and the hoo ha. Aren't you guys thankful you're not human?

Tell your mom that there is a movement to wipe the hoo-ha with cloth rags - yuk! What's wrong with people?

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Winston! How exciting that your mom is going to buy this book. I swear to you that the book is not boring but it's not as exciting as curling! When will the madness end?

Stubby xoxo

Heather and Walter said...

Please give us the bulletpoints when you're done reading it - I want to know what I'm supposed to be doing but the chances of me getting to read a book in the next 6 mos are slim~!!!

Stubby said...

Hi Heather & Wally! I'm taking notes so be sure to look for them in the months to come. There are so many things in the book that the author says that Mom always thinks about.

Stubby xoxo