HuffPost's "No Impact Week": Small Steps, Big Results

HuffPost's No Impact Week is a project we've launched together with Colin Beavan -- aka "No Impact Man." The goal is to demonstrate ways in which small actions in our daily lives can have a profound impact on our world.
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Last week, we launched our new Impact section -- and had an immediate impact. Now I want to draw your attention to "No Impact." No, we're not suddenly mimicking the faux-balance of the mainstream media. HuffPost's No Impact Week is a project we've launched together with Colin Beavan -- aka "No Impact Man" -- and his non-profit No Impact Project. The goal is to demonstrate ways in which small actions in our daily lives can have a profound impact on our world.

Each day for the next seven days, we will show you specific, manageable steps you can take -- just for that day, if you like -- to have a tangible impact on, well, lessening your impact.

There are, obviously, many ways to affect change on our environment -- legislative action, corporate reform, large-scale activism. None of these are mutually exclusive and we need to pursue all of them. But this project starts at the personal level, by showing us how we affect the environment on a daily basis.

The "no impact" movement took shape in 2007, when Colin and his family began a yearlong experiment to live in New York City with as small of a footprint as possible The experiment became a book, then a movie, then a website. And now, an easy way to participate with "No Impact Week."

As Colin explains his original idea, "the central question was, how many of the resources used in our typically American, consumerist lifestyle actually contributed to our happiness? And where were we using resources -- bad take out food in plastic tubs, more carbon-emitting business travel than we wanted, too much time working coupled with too little time with loved ones -- that didn't improve our happiness?"

Colin's framing is especially important. Far from being a movement of self-denial and stern lectures about having too much fun, the "no impact" mindset is actually about increasing fulfillment and happiness by asking us to think about what makes us truly happy and what's really important in our lives.

As the Beavans found, their "carbon cleanse" actually made their lives more fulfilling. By turning off the TV, cooking local food instead of ordering in, and biking to close-by locations instead of driving, they gave themselves the tools to slow down and spend more time with one another.

And now we invite you to join us, and, as Colin writes, "experiment with your own lives in the hopes of enlarging the discussion about how we Americans might find a way to live that is both better for us and for the planet."

Each of the next seven days will have a different focus:

Monday is about reducing trash. Tuesday focuses on transportation, Wednesday on food, Thursday on energy, Friday on water. Saturday, which is International Day of Climate Action, is about giving back. And Sunday is the "eco-Sabbath," a day of rest.

The No Impact Project's guide to the week, complete with dozens of steps you can take for each day, can be found here.

But this week isn't just about our personal habits -- it's also about understanding how these habits affect us and the planet. To transform the personal into the global, Saturday, the seventh day of No Impact Week will be spent participating in a day of action around climate change, organized by Bill McKibben's The group takes its name from the study by NASA's James Hansen that showed that if we let carbon in the atmosphere surpass 350 parts per million, we can't have a planet "similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted."

Well, we've already passed that number -- we're now at 390 parts per million. But, if we take action, this is reversible. So we hope you'll join us on Saturday.

And we want No Impact Week to be a two-way street. So we're asking those of you who are participating to report to us on what you're doing. Share your stories through video, photos, and blog posts.

For today, we are looking for your input about trash. Click here to help us get to the bottom of what happens to trash in your area and to take a closer look at your own trash.

Many of our bloggers are participating as well. You can find them here.

You'll be joining thousands of people across the world who have already signed up to take part. Entire offices are also joining -- including HuffPost's New York, Washington, and Los Angeles offices.

And we want to hear your stories about why you have decided to participate in No Impact Week. We've already heard from a number of you, including a remarkable woman who is participating despite the fact that she needs to rely on an oxygen pump 24/7. Donna Joseph, of Everett, Washington, was among the first to sign up for No Impact Week. She was a math teacher before her health forced her to retire. Now 75, Donna asks, "Is it too late for me to take a second look at this planet that has nourished me and determine some ways in which I can give back?"

She doesn't think so. "I can do it," she writes, "and so can you."

So sign up here and join us for No Impact Week.

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