The following is a guest post by EcoWoman Cathy Collentine
We have all likely heard about carbon footprints and maybe even calculated our own, but what about all those other “footprints” that our everyday lives leave-could we live with no impact?
That is the goal of self proclaimed “No Impact Man,” Colin Bevan, a New Yorker in Manhattan who embarks with his wife, 2 year old daughter and their dog on a year long journey towards living off the grid-no electricity, no refrigerator, TV, taxis, subway, elevators and living a lifestyle bringing them closer to each other and to the city where they have lived and worked for years, but hadn’t experienced until they started to look at it differently.
DC Ecowomen joined together at the house of our gracious host to watch the film and it got us thinking about the different choices that we make and the conveniences that we so often take for granted without thinking of the effect they have on our communities and our world. Take trash-that was talked about in the movie because they were trying to produce no trash-no takeout containers, disposable water bottles or plastic bags-not even disposable diapers, which Americans throw into our landfills at a rate of 49 million a day, the 3rd largest source of trash. For so many of us our trash piles up (the average American produces 4.6 pounds of trash a day, roughly 17,000 pounds a year), we lug it to the curb and then we forget about it. But where does it go, and who does it impact? The movie made us think that in our disposable culture of single serving and use products, it’s not hard to take a few simple steps to reduce our trash-by bringing our own bottles, silverware and reusable bags, but also by looking at each piece of packaging, each thing we toss and trying to find a way to reuse it or to buy the product that has the least packaging possible or buy new or used items that come without packaging.
This film explored what one family does when they don’t have lights or a TV anymore, they buy all their food at the farmers market, and they cook all their own meals and they were more engaged- in conversation, volunteering, getting to know their farmers and neighbors and their food. The individual actions they took engaged them and their community in this project to live without an impact, making new friends along the way. The community they built was of people they felt accountable to, people that made them realize how interconnected the earth is and that our trash, our waste, our impact has an effect on our community.
We parted ways that evening feeling like we could all play a part in making this world a better place. As “No Impact Man” emphasized, the most radical political action that we can take is to be an optimist-so we will continue to grow positively as a community of Ecowomen and build our neighborhood and our city with our impacts in mind.