For Friday's water challenge I didn't do much, as our house already has high efficiency appliances and I try to avoid turning the faucet on full force. I considered taking really short, 5-minute "navy showers" but frankly, one of my guilty pleasures is long and hot showers so I really couldn't bring myself to give that one up completely (although I did cut back on time a bit).
Saturday I combined activism with giving back by going to a protest in Raleigh as part of the 350.org global day of climate action and a local effort to stop the construction of a new coal-fired power plant. I hadn't been to a protest since my college days, so it was kinda cool to get back out in the streets, even if I'm not as idealistic about the power of protesting as I was back then.
But the experience was interesting to say the least, and definitely made me want to help lobby for the local issue of the construction of the Cliffside power plant. After the protest I walked over to the Cherry Bounce Fest where I saw a bunch of awesome bands and fell in love with The Hood Internet on the street party dance floor. The only downside to this great day was that I couldn't find anyone to carpool with and the Triangle Transit bus system wouldn't allow me to stay for the festival, so I sucked it up and drove down alone to Raleigh, breaking one of my transportation challenges. But I thought it was for a good reason, so I let it slide.
Sunday was the Eco-Sabbath, the last day of the experiment and the time to rest and reflect on the experiences of the week. Basically, I used that day to feel guilty about all the ways I had cheated on my challenge, but also to reflect on how well I did overall.
I realized that it didn't take that much effort to create less trash, but rather a slight bit of inconvenience and a bit of planning ahead and being prepared. My trash bag for the week didn't contain all that much trash, mostly just plastic bags from food wrappers that I'd used at least a few times to cook with, and some food containers from the couple of times during the week that I caved and ate out.
One thing that I think I really learned from the experiment is just how much I crave mindless consumption when I'm feeling upset or out of control in my life. As I mentioned before, the week I did No Impact turned out to be a pretty stressful one (for reasons outside the experiment) and I kept finding myself wanting to randomly buy things or just drive instead of biking somewhere whenever I felt stressed. That was really strange for me because I never really thought of myself as the type of person that used consumption to assuage my personal feelings of angst. Now I know that while I'm not the type of person who goes out and buys 20 pairs of shoes when they are upset, I do have a tendency to buy prepared food instead of cooking, drive instead of walking or biking, and generally buy into the consumption of capitalist conveniences because it just seems "easier" when in the moment of feeling stressed out. But many meals at home can take 30 minutes or even less to prepare which is faster than the time it takes to venture out, order something, and wait to receive it. And the endorphin release from the exercise of a bike ride would probably make me feel better than if I just sat gloomily in a car and drove the same distance.
So overall I'm glad I did the experiment, and I hope to keep some of the lessons in mind and in heart for the lifestyle choices I make. The No Impact Week is having a second run starting November 15th, so if anyone is interested in trying it out for themselves, sign up!
Here's a preview of upcoming posts, inspired by my experiences during No Impact:
- the science behind the 350 movement, and why you should care!
- the link between endorphins and exercise
- a discussion of an interesting article on the emotional value of music