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How do I make a difference?
We've all asked ourselves this. When we think about what we can do as individuals, especially related to the state of increasingly urgent environmental concerns, the idea that one person can change anything is difficult to imagine. With political and corporate forces getting in the way of large-scale change, the task is daunting. We think the first step is to get some perspective on the impact we're already having.
Enter No Impact Man. We first heard about Colin Beavan and his No Impact Project around the time many others did -- when the New York Times did a feature on him and his family's efforts to live with no environmental impact in New York City for a year. Our reaction: intriguing, innovative and seemingly a bit kooky.
As we learned more about Colin, and saw No Impact Man, the documentary film and read his book of the same title, about his family's year-long experiment, we were downright inspired. The documentary follows the Beavans' journey as they incrementally lowered their impact through phases, such as making no trash, only eating food grown within 250 miles, using no carbon producing transportation (not even the subway!) and finally, no electricity in their home. By year's end their impact was down to nearly zero.
The drama between Colin and Michelle mirrors the drama that plays out in many of our lives -- as Americans so many of us have that side that loves buying something new, drinking Starbucks and watching guilty pleasures on television. And while we might not be as extreme as No Impact Man, we simultaneously desire to do the right thing environmentally and to make choices that will benefit those around us. This is an opportunity to explore the latter.
The process of breaking consumer habits and rethinking everything from what food you eat to how you get to work can have unexpected benefits -- it was inspiring to watch the Beavan family discover this. Instead of living a life of desperate deprivation, the Beavans found that subtracting the non-essentials made life fuller -- they were happier, healthier, spent more time with each other and friends, slowed down the frenetic pace of city life, spent more time outside, saved lots of money and found it all incredibly enriching. Colin goes into more detail about his family's year in his book, No Impact Man, which gives an inside look at what motivated Colin and how they pulled it off.
We wanted to have that experience ourselves. And we wanted our readers to have it, too.
HuffPost Green and HuffPost's Eyes & Ears Citizen Journalism Initiative are thrilled to announce that we are partnering with the No Impact Project, a non-profit started by Colin Beavan, to bring our readers the first No Impact Week. This week will give people the opportunity to examine and reduce their ecological footprint by taking part in a short and intense period of conscious consumption supported by local and online communities.
For the inaugural No Impact Week, which we will be hosting, the No Impact Project has created a detailed guide that describes in detail how to go about reducing your ecological impact one day at a time. No, not everyone has to completely give up their cars and shut off their power; the guide gives many achievable levels of reducing your footprint and you can pick the goals that are right for you.
We'd like to invite you to do this week with us (Sign up here!). Starting on October 18th, we want all types of people of all political persuasions across the world to take part. Throughout the week we'll be having HuffPost bloggers write about their experiences, and we'll invite the community to report by sending in photos, videos and commentary. We will also have a Twitter stream using the hashtag #nipweek and a Facebook group for people to connect to us and each other as they take the No Impact challenge. You can also follow the No Impact Project on Twitter for tips during the No Impact Week.