Michelle, my poor wife, has been dragged through this project, sometimes appreciating it, sometimes hating it, usually resisting a new restriction but often discovering its benefits. She loves the local food, loves the scooter to get to work, loves that we spend more time together because of TV, has a constant caffeine withdrawal headache.
Tonight, though, the film-makers are coming over to tape us having a discussion about the institution of the "sustainable consumption" phase of the No Impact experiment. I plan to introduce new restrictions. That means learning to deal with a whole new level of unsatiated desires.
It's going to be a wrestle, although there has been a new development in our marraige as it relates to the project. Up until now, I have introduced the rules and poor Michelle has shaken the shackles and then fallen in (or sometimes not).
But I hate telling her what to do and--surprise, surprise--she hates being told. We have decided that there are now two No Impact experiments, hers and mine. They basically follow the same outline but each of us gets to adapt it in their own way.
All the same, the new rules are pretty tough, and you should check back tomorrow to see what the fall out from tonight's conversation will be. The rules are adapted, by the way, from the Compact, an ever enlarging group of people, starting with ten San Francisco dwellers, who agreed to buy nothing new for a year.
Here are No Impact's adapted "sustainable consumption" rules as I envisage them before Michelle and I talk tonight (don't tell Michelle so they will be a surprise tonight):
- Don't buy new products (including, worst of all, books).
- Borrow, rent or buy used (except underwear and socks).
- Buy only sustainably produced underwear and socks (or anything else that ends up excepted).
- Cancel magazine subscriptions and read online (the trees! the trash!).
- No movies or other forms of mass entertainment.*
- Find replacements for everything that is still throwaway or comes in throwaway packaging in our house: cosmetics and skin care products, soap, shampoo, cleaning products, paper towel, menstrual pads, disposable pens, disposable razors, toilet paper.
- Did anyone notice that toilet paper was at the end of that long list?
On the positive side, to replace these things, we can:
- Have fun with Craig's List, Freecycle and other second hand sources.
- Read all we want online.
- Putter around antiques stores and flea markets.
- Go to more live entertainment.
- Socialize more.
- Have people over more.
Does it all sound awful? Well, we'll see. That's the point, isn't it? To test that assumption and see what actually happens to our lives. Check back tomorrow to read the result of "the discussion."
*The logic of no movies? Judith Levine, author of Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping, allowed herself no movies and there is no way she has bigger cojones than us! Just joking. There is a logic to it. It has to do with forms of entertainment that separate us rather than bring us together, but that is for a later post. The no movies rule is also subject to "social exceptions," which is also for discussion in a later post.
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