As the story goes, I never really convinced my wife, the "Prada wearing, Four Seasons loving" Michelle, to embark on the year-long no environmental impact lifestyle experiment with me. Instead, one day when she came home from work, she lay on the couch exhausted, wanting nothing more than for me to keep quiet so she could read her book.
As she lay there, I asked her if she would do the No Impact thing with me. She never really stopped reading. She just said, uh huh. By the time she really realized what was happening we were in too deep for her to back out.
That, by the way, is a great technique for convincing your spouse to do almost anything. Plus, well, Michelle is a hero.
Anyway, the year has passed, the formal, rule-driven part of the project is over, and Michelle is relieved at last to be no longer bound by the no buying anything new ethos of No Impact. Meanwhile, we've been renegotiating the way we live, and she's not a great lover of the compost bin.
But she said that if we bought a proper, stainless steal trash can to replace the plastic bucket we keep the food scraps in, we could retain the practice (food in the landfill, by the way, is the United States' second largest source of anthropogenic methane, a strong greenhouse gas, so composting is important).
So we go to Bed, Bath and Beyond, find a fancy bin, pay a ridiculous amount of money for it, get outside on the sidewalk, and suddenly, Michelle says, "I feel sick."
"Why?" I ask.
"All that money. All that metal. It's such a waste. It's just buying for buying's sake. I can't stand it."
"Really," she says. "I want you to take it back. We can just wash out the plastic bucket and use it until we find a better trash can on the street or at the flea market."
So I take our purchase back in the store, they put the money back on my credit card, and we walk home holding hands. On the way, she turns to me and says, "I think the consumer brainwashing has worn off."
And that is the story of just about the most amazing experience of my No Impact project yet.
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.