Sunday, October 18, 2009

No Impact Week : Day One

Crazy. Here I am again! I didn't delete the blog, because I thought I just might need to come back and I didn't want to wipe out 2 1/2 years of my life in one fell swoop. But I'm ready to be back - at least for now. Ready to record and share my path and days of growing, stretching myself, challenging, changing and just being a witness to life - my life. More than that, though... or perhaps less than that, I hope to limit my focus somewhat to my continued efforts at living lightly, healthy, and sustainably. I will likely still have pieces to share about my family, homeschooling, and creative efforts from time to time, but the whole if it feels too broad to me at present and is more fodder for my personal journals rather than my public blog.

Today is the first day of the No Impact Experiment and I am taking part along with a few thousand others around the globe. I have enjoyed Colin's blog over the last couple of years and was excited to see the release of his book and movie. Unfortunately, his movie doesn't seem to be playing in our area yet, but perhaps it will arrive via the Sarasota Film Society sometime in the future. If not, I will be waiting for its release on Netflix.

In the meantime, I'm listening to the audiobook version of his book, No Impact Man, that I picked up from the library and I'm also waiting for the print version of it to arrive at the library via interlibrary loan, so I can copy down a few things I'd like to remember. I can't buy anything new this week, so certainly, his book was out of the question! :) I actually do plan to purchase a copy, but really... it will be a used one.

So, today, looking at the No Impact How-To Manual, I am supposed to begin by reducing my consumption. I am to try to purchase nothing other than food and if I do need something, I ought to try to buy used first.

Initially, I was thinking, "Easy, peasy." I went 9 months two years ago without buying anything new for myself and I try to maintain this as a habit. Looking more closely, though, which is what I am attempting to do this week, I can already see the challenges ahead.

My younger daughter needs a new, bigger bike. I continue to want to ride our bikes more wherever it is safe to do so around here. The girls and I have been biking every morning for exercise and as part of my plan to increase our strength and endurance for more regular riding. It is evident that Eve needs something bigger. Trying to find used will simply take longer and this may interfere with the goal of riding more and regularly until that happens. Maybe not, though. She's been riding her present bike well-enough for a while now without much complaint. Its me that feels uncomfortable for her when I see that the bike doesn't fit her properly. But truly, a couple of weeks shouldn't matter if that's what I give it to try to find her something via Freecycle or Craigslist before we buy new.

Another challenge I see is finding headlamps for our bikes. I'd like us to ride our bikes more often over to my mil's house when we visit her Sunday evenings, but, of course, I want to be visible and safe. The route primarily has sidewalks and uses back roads that are less frequently traveled, but that also means it is less well-lit. While I think finding a bike for my daughter is likely on the used websites, finding 4 bike headlights for my family will be a further stretch. I don't know if I'm willing to wait to find them, since the trade-off would be that we would drive until we do.

Ah, suburbia. The land dedicated to the automobile instead of the humans that live there. Well, we can't just up and move, so I've got to work with what I've got. "Peak Moment" is a YouTube channel that particularly inspires me. They discuss many issues related to the "peak oil" theory, but the videos I enjoy most of theirs are the ones where people are transforming their suburban homes and traditionally non-productive property into something more self-sustaining. One of my favorites is entitled, How Much Food Can I Grow Around My House and another featuring suburban permaculture. There are many more and not all are about growing food. But growing food in our yards is something I strongly believe in. Can you imagine how much food could be made available to our familes and communities if every suburban lot had at least a kitchen garden in it and chose to have food-bearing trees instead of so many for aesthetics alone? It certainly doesn't take a lot of space, as the Dervaes family proves every day (they have a YouTube channel as well).

Sometimes I believe that it would be easier to be "no impact" in the city, since there are so many places you can get to via bike or mass-transit. I am an urban-oriented person; I have come to learn that over the years. But my husband is not and so we meet halfway: in suburbia. It's not my first choice, and niether is it for him, but we compromise and are making the best of it. Don't get me wrong. We live on some beautiful property, for which I am extrememly grateful and I suspect there would be many things that I would miss if I lived with less land or as much elbow room as we have.

Still, there are things that I am continually frustrated with and one is, namely, as I mentioned above, access to necessities (doctors, dentists, libraries, etc.) has mostly to be gotten to by car. I continue to look for alternatives though. Recently, a new health food store opened in biking distance (and on a safe bike path) from our home. It's about 5 miles one way. But it's very expensive (more than the Whole Foods store I drive a half hour a way to about once a month) and so I don't know how much regular shopping wil will be able to do there. I am also considering a CSA membership that would, perhaps, decrease my need to travel too far for food and would be supporting a local food source. It seems I am continually reassessing our choices and hope to track some of the progress we make and the challenges and compromises we make right here. Participating in the No Impact Project is not a start for me, as I have been following a path toward greater simplicity for the last 20 years. But there is always room for improvement and re-focus. I am looking forward to a fresh commitment and the insights and change that it brings.
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