Wednesday, January 30, 2013

No Impact

Well continuing with my trend to watch documentaries produced years ago I watched No Impact Man last night with my husband, using the wonderful Netflix to stream it.

As a side note I wouldn't recommend watching with children as they drop the "F" bomb several times.

                                                                        Source: Uploaded by user via Mary on Pinterest

The movie follows Colin Beavan, his wife Michelle, and their 2 year old daughter Isabella as they spend 1 year (living in New York City) attempting to make no impact on the Earth.

For this they give up, in stages mind you (they didn't go completely cold turkey):

  • buying anything new
  • electricity
  • all forms of transportation that doesn't involve human power to get you there (i.e. walking, biking, etc)
  • toilet paper
  • food packaging
  • creating trash
  • air conditioning
  • TV

I myself would have had to draw the line at toilet paper...that would have to be my luxury item if I were to do such a project.

They made sure that they ate food grown within 250 miles of their home, which meant giving up on Starbucks but eating more from the local farmer's market.

Overall I thought the film was a little extreme, but I think his point was to see what things they could live without if they tried and giving everything up all at once gave them a clean slate to start from.

In the end I think they found they enjoyed family time more and eating local foods.  It made them feel more connected to their city and more conscientious of their consumption.

I had my husband watch this with me because I thought this would appeal to him, and did it ever.

We've decided to make an action plan and see what we could do to make less of an impact.
  • Make our own shampoo.  This "recipe" calls for essential I am going to make my own.  I am currently drying out some orange peels so that they can be the scent of our shampoo.
  • Bake our own bread.  I am selling off some surplus items from around my house so that we don't have to spend extra funds to buy this awesome bread machine.

                                                                       Source: via Teresa on Pinterest

  • Increase productivity from our home garden.  This weekend we are cleaning everything out and beginning our spring planting (kale, spinach, and broccoli seeds will be hitting the dirt).
  • Make my own bags for produce, bulk bin items, and unwrapped baked goods.  I saw these bags on Pinterest and find the instructions easy to follow...I think even my meager sewing skills can make this happen (they have tags to write bulk bin item numbers on the side).

                                                       Source: via Rachel on Pinterest

  • Make our own cleaning supplies.  You would be amazed at what white vinegar, borax, and baking soda can do for your house.
  • Repurpose and reuse the items we have instead of being so quick to buy new.
  • Making our own cola.  My husband loves a soda every now and then...but he doesn't love the ingredients SO we are going to try a few recipes, starting with this one.
As these projects progress I will be sure to blog about it.  Because if something is a success, or even a failure, there is bound to be something we can learn from it and by sharing with all of you who knows what you can teach me :)

What sort of suggestions for having less impact can you share?


  1. Fun! I love stuff like this. I am planning to start a Frugal Vermonter series soon, to post all kinds of frugal ideas.

    I've been making homemade rice milk and sprouting seeds at home, and we only buy canned beans when we really want a back up; otherwise, I'm all about dried beans.

  2. Wow, that sounds interesting Rachel! New York seems an unlikely sort of place to do a challenge like that. No electricity? I would draw the line at no toilet paper too! I want to see this one. We take a bunch of small steps to help, like using natural cleaning products and driving our small car instead of the van when possible. Plus, being vegetarian is a big help. :)

  3. I loved that film! It was definitely extreme, but I think that was the point, ya know, just to see ho far to the other side we've gone. Like you, it made me think about what I could do without, what I was using (as and impacting the planet with) that I really didn't need to. Good for you guys going on this adventure, I can't wait to hear more! BTW, my friend has that bread machine and loves it. Let me know how you like the shampoo, I've been wanting to try that. You're great!
    Tamar :-)

  4. Rachel, I have this best friend named Thira. I thought there was no one else on this earth like her but you may be the one. You remind me of her so much. She is so awesome. She homemakes all ofher bread, all of it. We're talking bagels, english muffins, etc. She also makes her own yogurt, she refuses to buy it anymore, mainly because her kids go through it like candy which I can relate to but not making my own anytime soon. Sorry. :)

    I do however make my own bread, without a machine though, and I thrift most of my clothing and the kids. I've thought seriously about not buying anything new, as a goal for instance.

    I'm glad for this time we are embarking on. It's a great feeling to be more sustainable, more productive with what is natural and good. I think that's why so many like to thrift. There is something that feels good and honest about this kind of recycling.

    This being said I know we could be doing so much more, but babysteps.

    Like I said you remind of my friend Thira. She is always trying to do better and she is very "green." YOu would love her, I think. Love,


    PS. Thira happens to be Marie Wallworks sister in law....funny huh? :)

  5. Those are really great goals! I'm with you--I draw the line on giving up toilet paper. That is cruel and unusual.

  6. Before I met my husband I made my own laundry detergent - with Fals Naptha soap. The first time I made it he walked into the kitchen and was like "is that macaroni and cheese?!" Ha!

  7. I heard about this family! I would love to watch the film or read the book. I can't believe they went without toilet paper. I love saving money but it would definitely draw the line there ;)
    It's so exciting to hear that you & your hubbie have been so inspired by this film. I love everything you're proposing to do. Good luck with it all. You must give us updates now and then to let us know how you're getting on.
    p.s. the breadmaker looks like a fine piece of machinery! I've had my breadmaker 2 or 3 years now and still use it every week. It's definitely been worth the money :)

  8. Oh wow. That is pretty incredible. Is it gross that I think I could do without toilet paper before I let go of electricity? I just can't imagine not being able to do anything after 4:30pm which is when it gets dark here. I mean, candle light can only do so much!

    And I know for a fact that leaves make a pretty good substitute for TP when you're in a fix... ;o)