Colin Beavan—aka No Impact Man—convinced his family to spend a year, while living in New York City, making no negative impact on the environment. His first challenge was getting through everyday life without producing trash. http://noimpactman.typepad.com
Stage 1 was figuring out how to live without producing garbage. Stage 2 was figuring out how to cause the least environmental impact concerning food choices. Stage 3 was figuring out how to reduce consumption to only what is necessary and sustainable.
Below are some of his favorite tips and tricks.
- No soda in cans (you’re probably less likely to get cancer from aspartame).
- No water in plastic bottles (you get to keep your endocrines undisrupted).
- No coffee in disposable cups (you don’t suffer from the morning sluggishness that comes from overnight caffeine withdrawal).
- No throwaway plastic razors and blade cartridges (you get to participate in the straightedge razor comeback).
- Use non-disposable feminine-hygiene products that are good for the planet. http://lunapads.com/learn/getting-started-guide
- No Indian food in throwaway takeout tubs.
- No Italian food in plastic throwaway tubs.
- No Chinese food in plastic throwaway tubs.
- Taking your own reusable containers to takeout joints (or start eating local so this tip is out altogether).
- Admitting that you sometimes miss Indian, Italian and Chinese takeout so you learn to make some of your favorite dishes fresh.
- Hopping on the scale and celebrating the 20-pound weight loss since eating takeout stopped.
- Buying milk in returnable, reusable glass bottles.
- Shopping for honey, pickled veggies and other goods in jars only from merchants who will take back the jars and reuse them.
- Returning egg and berry cartons to vendors at the farmers’ market for reuse.
- Using neither paper nor plastic bags and bringing our own reusable bags when grocery shopping.
- Canceling your magazine and newspaper subscriptions and reading online.
- Putting an end to the junk mail tree killing.
- Carrying an ultra-cool reusable cup and water bottle.
- Carrying reusable cloths for everything from blowing your nose, to drying your hands, to wrapping up a purchased bagel.
- Wiping your hands on your pants instead of using a paper towel when you forget your cloth.
- Politely asking restaurant servers to take away paper napkins and plastic placemats, straws, cups and single-serving containers.
- Explaining to servers with a smile that you are on a make-no-garbage challenge.
- Giving servers big tips to participate in your make-no-garbage challenge.
- Pretending McDonalds, Burger King and all take out franchises with their paper and plastic wrappers are nonexistent.
- Buying no individually packaged candy bars, gum, lollypops or ice cream.
- Making your own household cleaners to avoid throwaway plastic bottles.
- Using baking soda from a recyclable container to brush your teeth.
- Using baking soda as a deodorant to avoid their plastic containers.
- Using baking soda for shampoo to avoid plastic shampoo bottles.
- Using the plastic bags that other people’s newspapers are delivered in to pick up Frankie the dog’s poop.
- Keeping a worm bin to compost your food scraps and return nourishment to the earth instead of toxins from the landfills.
- Switching to real, cloth diapers which your kid will probably like better.
- Not buying anything disposable.
- Not buying anything in packaging (and count the money you save because that means pretty much buy nothing unless it’s second hand).
- Shopping for food only from the bulk bins and from the local farmer’s market where food is unpackaged and fresh.
- Forgetting about prepackaged, processed food of any description.
- Being happy that the result is that you get to eat food instead of chemicals.
- Giving our second-hand clothes away to Housing Works or other charities.
- Offering products we no longer need on Freecycle instead of throwing them away.
- Collecting used paper from other people’s trash and using the other side.
- Using old clothes for rags around the apartment instead of paper towels.
Making a little less trash is a concrete first step everyone can take that leads to more and more environmental consciousness. Try a few and note what happens to you!