No Impact Week Day 1: Reducing Consumption by Making a List

18 10 2009

So Chez Don’t Buy It is doing Colin Beavan‘s No Impact Week Experiment, and the very first day’s task is a topic near and dear to our hearts: stopping consumption, or, not buying it.

His suggested tasks for today were these:

  1. Type up a list of all the stuff you “need” to buy this week. Delete the items that you can live without for the week. For the rest of the items, figure out if you can purchase them second-hand, borrow them, or make them yourself.
  2. Put an empty re-usable bag in a private place at home. Throughout the day, fill it up with all of your trash, recyclables, and food waste. If you’re out of the house, carry your trash home with you. Make sure that nobody else’s trash gets in there but your own. This will help you get ready for Monday’s challenge.
  3. Just for this week, try not to shop for new items. Will you find something better to do with your time and money? Could you use this time to spend with friends instead?

In this post, I’ll be considering just that first task.

Our initial list of items we planned to buy this week included mostly items for a weekend trip next weekend to DC:

  • a hotel room in Washington D.C. for the weekend
  • gas for the car to get around town here and down and back to DC
  • metro cards in DC
  • meals in DC and during the trip
  • scotch and chapbooks at the Poetic Art benefit we’ll be attending in DC
  • fillings for my teeth at the dentist
  • an oil change
  • candles for our pumpkins

We had trouble figuring out how to get rid of most of these things.

Couch-surfing is the low-impact way of staying in another city, but I had already asked (on facebook) if any of my friends felt like putting us up in DC. No volunteers there. (Do we have rotten friends, or *are we* rotten friends? The world may never know.) Still, today I created a profile on, paid $25 to have my identity validated, volunteered our guest room to all comers, and sent a couch-borrowing request to the wonderful couple who hosted 16 strangers for Obama’s inauguration. It’s awful short notice, and I suspect that we’ll end up in a hotel room as it is, but I did try to avoid buying hotel accomodations.

It looks like taking our car, a Prius, is actually the most environmentally friendly way of getting all of us from NH to DC, although since there are three of us rather than four, taking a bus might be a little bit better. Similarly, once in DC, we’ll maximize walking and use public transit when we can’t walk.

We’ll skip the souvenirs at the benefit in honor of the week, and I’ll be cancelling my dentist’s appointment anyway, since it conflicts with the trip. We’ll also make and bring a cooler full of food to minimize meals out. The candles I’m planning to make later today from materials we’ve saved.

The oil change is tougher: to do an oil change at home, we’d have to buy materials, and I’m not clear that it’s any more environmentally friendly to DIY in this case. Any thoughts?




One response

18 10 2009
No Impact Week Day 1: What We Did on No-Consumption Day « Don’t Buy It

[…] to keep warm in our energy-inefficient house — but it still bothers me. We looked for couchsurfing possibilities online and made our list for the […]

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