You're all invited to a public talk I'll be giving at New York University on Monday night, November 12. You'll find the details at the bottom of this page. Please come. And if you plan to throw tomatoes, please make sure they're local!
One of the hard things about the No Impact experiment is the constant feeling of swimming against the communal tide. In trying to live environmentally, I have had precious little community that shares my goals, triumphs and sorrows (thank God, though, for the community on this blog and for the community activists I've become friends with at, among others, Transportation Alternatives, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, Sustainable South Bronx and Solar One). I mentioned, as an example of swimming against the tide, one little contretemps I had with a member of New York's finest yesterday.
Finding a supportive community, I think, is one of the most important first steps to successfully leading an environmentally-friendly lifestyle, and one way to do this is to volunteer at environmental organization (like I did, for example, when we turned New York parking spaces into parks or when I swam in the Hudson with the Manhattan Island Foundation). But another way is to do what a bunch of students at New York University have done: set up your own community and give it the chance to share ideas and support as you challenge it to live as environmentally as possible.
In a challenge they're calling Footprint Forward, the students are trying to live the No Impact project for a whole week, and they're keeping a blog. They had me speak at the beginning of the week, and I'm giving a longer talk at the end (which you can come to, see below). Here are a few of the interesting comments of my new fellow student no impacters:
"So this week so far, for me, has been baby steps (like, infant). I brought my own coffee cup with me this morning. I took the stairs. I turned off our air conditioner (in winter, I know–because the building keeps the temperature so high that it’s stifling in our room) and opened a window. It’s nothing monumental (see: Adam’s trash logging, for example). I still feel guilty. I’m still making an impact. I don’t even really know how hard I’m trying–whether my guilt-induced impact reduction has been intentional or simply incidental. But I can tell you now that I want to be better at this, and it’s obviously not happening on its own."
"One more little problem I’ve noticed regarding personal mugs: At Starbucks, if you give them your mug with the lid, they put the lid in an unused cup so it doesn’t sit on the counter, and then they just chuck the cup! So make sure you hand them the mug without the lid on or else specify NOT to do that."
"At last night’s discussion on eco-footprinting, we fiddled with the numbers on this fabulous website, and I learned that taking shorter showers would reduce my ecological footprint respectably, if not hugely. In that light, I decided that one of my eco-footprint goals would be to take one ten-minute shower every two days, or to spend an average of five minutes a day in the shower: hygienic, and environmentally friendly!
...I looked at my watch — six ten. I got in the shower; a flurry of shampoo and conditioner, efficient cleanliness, oh how lovely the hot water is; I got out. I looked again at my watch — it was six thirty! How? I really did try to go as fast as I could. It seems I am incapable of taking quick showers, so my new plan is one fifteen minute shower every three days. Hygienic? Less so, but definitely permissible. Environmentally friendly? That’s the idea, I guess."
Hope to see you at my talk on Monday night!
No Impact Lecture: Wrap up your Footprint Forward week with an inspiring talk by Colin Beavan, part of the Bronfman Center’s Selma Ruben Distinguished Lecture Series.
7-9PM, Cooper Union Great Hall, 7 East 7th Street at 3rd Ave
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.