There's a No Impact Week coming up, starting Sunday April 18th. I won't be able to participate this week (I have some exciting travel plans that coincide exactly with the challenge), but I'll be watching the blog when I return, and will probably try it week after next.
I know that for me this experiment will work much better as a result of having seen the film No Impact Man, so if you are interested in the challenge, I'd recommend starting there. Once you register, which you can do from a link at Colin Beavan's blog, you'll be able to download ("but don't print out") a guide to five daily steps, with a page of ideas and resources to help you with that day's challenge.
Day one, Sunday, is a reflection on consumption. To kick off, the project recommends watching Annie Leonard's video The Story of Stuff. That's another thing I've wanted to do. One nifty aspect of No Impact Week is that it rounds up resources you can explore in blog-space conversation with a cohort of others engaged with the project. There are some face-to-face events in New York City, and you can become a local No Impact ambassador in your own community too.
Cool! Regarding consumption: one thing I started to do this past January was aim for at least four Buy Nothing Days per week. This is an interesting way to develop awareness about spending. When tempted to buy something, anything (even an apple) I weigh it against the thrill of adding another Buy Nothing Day to my calendar.
I try to cluster shopping trips onto particular days, making it easy to then track purchases. For example, I might go to the co-op for groceries on a day when there is a farmers market next to it, so I can consolidate my shopping. I'll try to fill the car with gas that day too. If I'm aiming to Buy Nothing for five more days, I'll be more conscious of how much gas I'm using, cutting back on aimless or extraneous trips. This is a great way to curtail impulse purchases of all kinds, creating more consciousness around spending.
Just a statistic from The Story of Stuff, found in the No Impact Week guide: "Ninety-nine per cent of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, transport – ninety-nine per cent of the stuff we run through this production system is trashed within six months." Can this really be true? It's a shocking statistic. Every little bit less is something I can easily buy into.