Monday, October 19, 2009

No Impact Experiment- Sunday, Consumption

This week, I am going to blog every day about my experience performing the week long "No Impact Experiment". This experiment is the brainchild of Colin Beavan of the blog "No Impact Man" and Huffington Post and encourages people to rethink how they are personally using the earth's resources. Each day of this week a different subject is tackled in the experiment- everything from shopping habits to transportation to the trash you create. Believe me, this goes way beyond recycling or using cloth bags to carry your groceries home. It challenges you to really think about the choices you make and their environmental impact. Not in a depressing way, but in an empowering way.

The "No Impact Experiment" started yesterday with the topic of consumption. It asked you to write down everything you planned to purchase this week then delete what you could live without. For the remaining items on your list, you were asked to think if you could get them second hand or borrow them. I immediately started to panic because with the weather turning colder, and my 13 year old son having shot up at least an inch a month this past summer, I knew he needed new clothes and I planned to order them this week. I am ashamed to admit that I myself had also been eyeing another pair of new shoes. I immediately thought to myself, why am I being asked not to shop this week? I haven't bought a thing for weeks upon weeks before this. Or have I?

This close up examination of shopping habits for this week is making me think that maybe I don't do as good of a job as I think I do. Little purchases here and there don't seem to add up to much, but collectively they do. Colin asks that just for this week I try not to shop and to replace the time I would spend shopping doing something I enjoy. Granted, with the weather turning warmer again tomorrow, I can see how I can put my son's cold weather purchases off until next week, but what will that accomplish over buying them this week? Maybe it will give me time to rethink the purchase. To possibly borrow clothing from my husband for my son or to check out the local thrift stores.

In the "No Impact Experiment: How to Manual", Colin provides information on how to green your purchases when you decide beyond a doubt that you need an item. Lots to think about. Going online and shopping is too easy, too handy. A few clicks and key strokes and you have something on its way to your door. Maybe something you really don't need.

Colin asks in his how-to manual, what is the hardest part of decreased purchasing? For me, I think I create a need and want to fill it immediately. I find a niche in either my wardrobe or my kids and try and fill it, justifying the purchase because they or I don't already have something like that. Sometimes I buy an item only to find out we already have plenty of those sorts of things hanging in our closet...that really there wasn't a niche needing to be filled. Just me needing to be filled I suppose. Now I see why Colin suggests doing something else with your time rather than shopping. The alternative activity will fill you more and bring you more happiness than an article of clothing ever could.

I have known that hiking along a trail is more rewarding than shopping and would always choose hiking over shopping, but I have never thought about how when I feel like shopping, I should just go hiking. To use an activity I enjoy to erase away the desire to shop. To not default to shopping given some perceived need. To fill those weak moments, early in the morning or late at night where it is just too easy to go shopping online, with some other alternative activity.

Lots and lots to think about but for now, I will take Colin's advice and get off this dammed computer, away from the lure of online shopping and go do something else. But what?

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