Gradually Becoming Habitual

April 19, 2011 at 11:01 pm Leave a comment

by Isaac Alpert

Well into the second week of the No Impact Challenge, I have finally started to notice some tangible changes in my daily routines. Green actions that started out as nuisances have gradually become habits for me; from bringing my Tupperware to every restaurant I frequent, to making a point of having at least one reusable bag on me at all times – and usually two in case a close friend errs on their plastic consumption – I am overjoyed with the progress that I have made. However, no one is perfect, and I have certainly been culpable of eating at establishments that only serve on disposable plates or buying a chocolate bar in a moment of stressed-out weakness. But in the long run, NIC is actually transforming from “No Impact” to an actual “Impact” on my life, and I feel as though this revolution is most evident in my termination of paper napkins/towels from my schedule.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Initially feeling apprehensive (and, quite frankly insanitary) about rubbing my hands on my pants to remove ketchup from the tips of my fingers or some excess water after washing my hands, I now have no qualms about giving my thighs a quick pat instead of wasting another napkin in the dining hall. In fact, I revel in the stains that I have developed on my jeans. They are like my personal badges of honor, signifying one less paper towel that ultimately accumulates in a landfill or one less napkin that comprises the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I have also attempted to organize my schedule so that I only use bathrooms with air dryers or wash towels, because sometimes my jeans may actually be a bit too unsanitary to replace a seemingly trusty paper towel. Regardless of my method of avoiding single-use paper products, I have also realized that, once assimilated into my habits, it is a no-brainer to avoid napkins. Nuisances are now delights, and my community is greener.

No longer part of my routine!

So despite some setbacks here and there, the No Impact Challenge is truly running a life-changing course. And even though a single napkin may seem like an insignificant toll on the amount of pollution in the world, if I vow to never use another paper napkin for the rest of my college career, I will prevent nearly 2,500 napkins from making their way to a landfill (number based on eating three meals per day for nine months of the next three years). That equates to around $100 in savings for me, and a hefty load off of Mother Nature.

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Entry filed under: No Impact Challenge.

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