Posts tagged ‘no impact’

Culprit: Energy Bars

By Amanda Myers

I started out the No Impact Challenge without anxiety about accumulating too many points. Why worry when I was mindful of wasteful habits and made careful decisions in sustainable practices? What I’ve learned about myself with this challenge is that while I support green efforts in various forms and I am aware of my footprint, I still, at times, choose convenience over other “greener” choices. One example that seems to impact my points the most is single-serving foods that come in individual wrappers. In particular, protein/energy bars. I live a pretty active lifestyle and have a class schedule that doesn’t always afford me a leisurely meal. Because of this, I grab a protein or energy bar and throw in my bag on the way out the door. This is one lifestyle choice that may not be the most environmentally-friendly but it allows me to get through a hectic class and workout schedule providing the sustenance I need. I believe in the ability to improve continually, especially with green habits, but this may stay on my list of not-so-green practices. While the wrappers are a waste, it is minimal and hopefully I can do other things to offset them.

Advertisements

May 12, 2011 at 10:58 pm Leave a comment

Moving Beyond the Plastic Paradigm

Plaza cafe...so artsy.

by Chase Eck

My friend Stephen and I were in the library a couple nights ago. He was learning everything there is to know about the Holocaust, and I was writing a paper analyzing different historical perspectives on the Israeli war of Independence in 1948. Clearly we needed a break. We moseyed on down to Plaza café and swapped light conversation about looming demographic problems in China and electoral models across democracies over steaming cups of Seattle’s Best. Sometime during the conversation I realized just how many points I had accrued during my study break and vented my dismay to Stephen with some well-chosen words.  Stephen’s response was: “Well you just have to count the plastic right?”

Of course as anyone who is familiar with the No Impact challenge knows I couldn’t just count the plastic.  I had to count the cardboard coffee cup as well. That’s the point, it’s easy to fixate on one easily identifiable culprit such as plastic or oil but the truth is the issue is so much broader.  We need to move beyond the latest villain of the day and seek to identify why wasteful behavior is so bad and work to better our habits with regards to that issue as well as others.  Plastic bags aren’t inherently bad, it’s just that the number we consume is so wasteful. This concern applies to all single use items, not just those made of plastic.

April 28, 2011 at 11:59 pm 2 comments

It’s not easy being (sort of) green.

By Lisa Velkoff

I’ve always thought of myself as one of those people who was good to the environment. My family has always recycled, everything that we could: tin cans, plastic bottles and two-gallon milk containers, newspaper and cardboard, even paper bags and Ziplock baggies (I was that weird kid in elementary school who took home a brown lunch bag with empty baggies at the end of the day – my dad insisted on washing and re-using them until they got holes). For the four drivers in my family, we have three hybrid cars, and we had them before the Prius craze set in.

In high school, I decided to start being one of those healthy people who drinks water all the time. I’ll admit that at the beginning, I drank bottled water. I hadn’t yet bought a reusable water bottle! But even then, I’d take one bottle, fill it up at the water fountain multiple times during the day, possibly even keeping one bottle for multiple days. Empties would collect in my locker, waiting for me to remember to take them home to recycle (my high school didn’t have plastic recycling until my sophomore or junior year). Over spring break a few weeks ago, when my mom and I ran errands together and I consistently refused plastic bags, insisting on carrying an armful of toiletries or groceries through the Target parking lot, my mother called me the “plastic bag vigilante.” The point is, I always thought of myself as eco-friendly. I loved the planet and the planet loved me!

I see your trickery, Poland Spring. I'm no longer buying it that plastic is good!

Oh, how wrong I was. Even with all the sustainable things that I do already (I’m very attached to my bpa-free water bottle and ceramic travel mug, and I’ll still carry around plastic bottles until I find a recycling bin) the No Impact Challenge has made me think of all the waste I create on any day.

Each evening, I cringe as I record my points. Did I really take those two napkins today? How could I possibly dare to buy a Naked smoothie?! Even when I’m proud of myself for deciding against a cup of coffee because I don’t have my mug with me (good for my health and the environment!) or for remembering my reusable shopping bag, I wince every time I throw anything away.

At the beginning of the challenge, it seemed like the list of prohibited items was pretty exhaustive. The imposition on take-out containers and plastic utensils turned a movie night in the dorm with Joy Yee’s into a serious moral and ethical crisis for me. Since then, it’s been easier to avoid those things. “Oh, no thanks, I don’t need a bag.” Simple.

But what about everything else? Today, I spent two minutes before my psych class staring at my chapstick, wondering about the plastic tube. What about that? What about the reams of paper that are handed out in classes every day on this campus? What about that girl on my hall who seems to take hour-long showers every day? What about my insistence on using both a ceiling light and a floor lamp? What about the campus shuttles running so late into the night, often with only one passenger riding for just two stops?

To be totally impact-free would take a huge commitment, one that I’m honestly not ready to make. But at least I’m aware now of how not-green I am. Behavior change comes slowly – after these first 12 days of the challenge, I’ve finally stopped automatically grabbing those napkins. I’ve become an even more naggy plastic (and paper) bag vigilante – “You shouldn’t have taken that bag! You don’t need it! You’re going to re-use it, right? Right?!” So maybe once I’ve cut out the waste items covered by the challenge, I’ll be able to tackle other unsustainable habits, one by one.

My tip of the day? Watch people around you. Pay attention to how much waste they create. Go ahead, sit in Psych 110 and judge each and every person sitting there with a bottle of Coke. Give your best stinkface to all the CVS customers who walk out with their purchases in five bags, gallon of milk double-bagged. Then, think about the eye of the waste gods (or the plastic bag vigilante!) watching your every move. You’ll change your mind about how much you need that afternoon Mountain Dew.

April 12, 2011 at 7:39 pm Leave a comment

Confessions: Gum is my vice.

My name is Zach and these are the confessions of a consumer.

When the No Impact Challenge began, I was fine with sparing a point here or there without much thought. But, by the end of the day, I usually had a lot of points. It was always a surprise to me when I ended the day with 4 or 5. I don’t know why, but I thought I had been doing a good job. I was wrong.

For the past two days, I’ve come close to sealing the deal for my first NO IMPACT day. Both days I have failed.

I can smell victory in the air today, though. At lunch, I almost took a napkin but recoiled my hand with a triumphant smile at the last moment, remembering my goal to have no impact.

I may or may not have eaten my French fries with a fork to avoid needing a napkin for my greasy fingers. People may or may not have judged me. But I feel like I’m on top of the world.

Not really. But it’s nice to know that I’m making progress.

I’ve finally learned the tricks of the trade. And maybe, when somebody else sees me putting my Starbucks coffee in my own mug and asking the barista to put my scone in a Tupperware, they’ll catch on. Or at least care enough to ask what I’m doing. That’s what I hope for. I’m learning to live more sustainably and I think my competitors in the challenge and I can lead by example.

It’s quite possible to significantly cut down my impact. But I still struggle. A lot. I like chewing gum. What can I say? I won’t apologize. But I will be shamed.

Can I have no impact? Maybe on some days. I’ll get back to you. Perhaps I should try making my own gum. Let me know if you have a recipe.

 

 

 

 

April 11, 2011 at 12:50 pm 1 comment

A Matter of Choice

By Paul Bourdillon

I started this challenge with hope. I had the desire to not only win, but also prove its possible to live without unnecessary disposables without being crazy and living in the middle of nowhere off the grid. The first week disproved my first point, it certainly was not easy or convenient to avoid throwing away single use packaging. This weekend forever squashed my dreams of a big round 0 on the ‘waste’ scorebored at the end of the month. Both disastrous times when the scoreboard clocked one against the environment, I was shocked I had been lulled into such a false sense of security and disposed of precious resources without reason. First, I used toilet paper to deal with my shaving injuries and next I oh-so innocently chowed down on free wrapped candy. In both cases I found myself wondering what the impact was of my thoughtless choice, and where the line is between choosing to be unsustainable and merely acting as an innocent bystander.

Irresistible Treat?

(vancouveropera.blogspot.com)

I shave, occasionally at least. I even try to do so with as little waste as possible. I switched to a safety razor in hopes that its blades would be less wasteful (and much, much less costly). I am also eeking out the last of my canned shaving cream (throwing it away would be worse than using every last drop) and moving on to shaving soap as soon as I am done. Nonetheless, I never thought that the toilet paper I use to dry the nicks and cuts that I inevitably inflict upon myself. I don’t NEED to use it, I could merely let the cuts heal on their own. However, its not normally socially acceptable to have blood dripping down my neck from unbandaged cuts- something I generally consider a boon of civilization. It draws me to question when is the waste I produce no longer my choice but merely a decision made by society as a whole? Should I only shave at night so as to use no paper and not offend anyone, or would not shaving before work in the morning be frowned upon by my boss? Am I guilty if I see the little piece of foil in which my food is presented to me, or am I a repeat offender for failing to question the sources and packaging used behind the scenes?

No-Shave Sustainability?

Food brings me to my newest dilemma in choice – candy. I love candy. When I was a kid, I bought 20lbs of candy (I probably only weighed 80lbs myself) back from England to satisfy my cravings. Yet all candy seems to come in extensive wrapping, including the free candy I picked up at the Globemed Summit this weekend. It was set out in bowls in the hotel, individually wrapped – sanitary, one might breath as a sigh of relief. It was only when I looked down at the pile of wrappers that I recognized my sin, and I immediately tried to justify it and absolve myself of guilt. I didn’t purchase the candy, and it was bound to be eaten anyway. Besides, theres no way to eat candy without a wrapper so that doesn’t count. I guess I could save all the wrappers and upcycle a purse like that shown below, but I generally limit my purses to 0 and don’t need a new on for every 10 candy bars I eat. But it does count, both for fate of the environment and this challenge. Am I guilty of waste for eating the food that society provides for me, or can I only be free of environmental-sin by eating raw food at home that I purchased in a reusable bag at the bulk food section?

My New Accessory?


(keetsa.com)

When it comes down to it, if I choose to live a ‘normal’ life in American society then I have already given up the option to live a waste-free life – I am not moving to a raw-foods diet to save cooking gas anytime soon. I make the sustainable choices I can to reduce my environmental impact, but eating vegetarian or even scoring no points in a never-ending ‘no impact challenge’ will still leave me the the cloud of carbon used to power the computer I used to write this post. I view our goal in this challenge as getting us all to choose the most sustainable ways of living in our society while simultaneously forcing us to realize all the waste that is fundamental to our way of life. Recognizing that waste does not make a badge of shame; realizing the unconscious unsustainability of our society is a call to forge a better future. The ways we save during this challenge is a first step, and policies like Bagless NU are the next step to leaving the world as great for the next generation as it was given to us.

April 10, 2011 at 9:26 pm Leave a comment

Packaging and more packaging…

By:  Meghan Cavanaugh

Like most Sunday afternoons, today I went to the grocery store in order to purchase the items I will need for meals the following week.  This has been my first grocery outing since the beginning of the NoImpact Challenge.

Before leaving, I gathered my reusable bags and made note to not purchase any items sold individually in order to avoid gaining any points.  I began my shopping in the fresh produce section.  Instead of using the plastic bags, I placed all my fruits and vegetables in the cart naked.  I began walking the aisles.  Immediately I was much more aware of the immense amounts of packaging.  Cardboard wrapped in plastic, plastic wrapped in plastic, cardboard wrapped in plastic covered in cardboard; the insane amounts of packaging continued and continued as I walked through the store.  The walls of food packaging started caving in towards me with the overwhelming thoughts of all the single use casings.  I began to wonder, who really needs all of this packaging?  Are we really so paranoid as a population to contract some sort of bacteria or disease that we need to encase our food products like mummies?

As I approached the checkout line, not only did the ridiculous wrappings continue, I also realized how challenging a complete zero impact lifestyle would be.  In fact, I would argue that it is impossible.  As consumers we have only one solution, try our hardest to purchase items with as little packaging as possible and always be mindful of our overall waste impact.  This challenge has made me acutely aware of my impact and ways that I can reduce it.

April 10, 2011 at 8:21 pm Leave a comment

Say hello to my little friend, the Tupperware.

by Alicia White

Since starting the No Impact Challenge, I have cringed at plastic water bottles, shunned paper napkins, and cowered from paper coffee cups. My backpack is a little fatter now, as it always has my thermos, my Sigg water bottle, a Tupperware, and a cloth napkin. For the most part, these changes in my lifestyle have been fairly easy, since I already used a thermos, water bottle, and Tupperware. Other things, however, have required a little more thought, such as last week, when it was my turn to cook dinner. Conscious of my new involvement in the No Impact Challenge, I planned out exactly what I would get at Whole Food to make sure that I would be able to get it all without using plastic produce bags. As I went down my list, all was well, until I got to the chicken. How was I supposed to buy chicken without any plastic packaging?? I’d only ever seen it sold on either Styrofoam plates or wrapped in paper and plastic. It was only the third day of the Challenge, and it seemed like I was destined for defeat. But I refused to give in to the nefarious Styrofoam tray. I pulled out my secret weapon from the cabinet: a large, red Tupperware. If not using disposable packaging meant that I was going to be the weirdo bringing her own container to the grocery store, then so be it. I was not about to let a measly piece of Styrofoam ruin my disposable-free day.

Excited, but a little apprehensive, I approached the meat counter with my trusty red Tupperware in hand. I asked the man behind the counter if I could get 1.75 pounds of chicken in my own container…dun dun dun…and he said, “Of course!”

Success! I had conquered the evil Styrofoam tray! Sure, I might have gotten a few weird looks in the process, but it felt awesome. By refusing to accept the conventional corporate packaging, I had stood up for my rights as a conscious consumer. Even though I had only saved one piece of Styrofoam, I felt empowered because I was able to make a deliberate choice. My short trip to the grocery store had taught me an important lesson: being the weird hippie is actually pretty fun.

April 8, 2011 at 4:55 pm 2 comments

Older Posts


No Impact Challenge for May 2012!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 7 other followers

tweets

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Tracking the Challenge

October 2017
S M T W T F S
« Apr    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031