TheMotherhood.com hosted a live chat with Michelle Conlin (married to “No Impact Man” Colin Beavan) and nine fantastic bloggers this week to talk about Michelle’s year of 'no impact' living - no electricity, cars, planes, television, shopping, elevators, toxic cleaning products, etc. – and about some of the ways we are all trying to live more frugally and greenly.
The ideas shared were incredible. Here are the highlights (read the entire conversation here):
Things we are doing to live a life of less impact
Our kids take a hot lunch to school each day with no waste - they take cloth napkins & our utensils too. (Gina Rau)
Our thing is putting out only one can of trash per month. It keeps everything in check for us. Renee Limon
Just by taking off shoes (when you enter your house), you can reduce the toxins on your floor by over 80%. huntstevens
We have three families that live within 1/2 mile of each other and we've been trying small ways to "co-house"; Using 1 lawn mower for all three families, trading different magazine subscriptions, co-op babysitting, prepare large meals and share with one another, etc. (Holland)
Green idea: use the gorgeous newspaper/magazines for wrapping paper and book covers! I have a bathroom papered in New Yorker mag covers. Sarah56
We have greened up our holidays by reducing the amount of gifts we give, giving handmade, and avoiding commercialism like the plague. Sara Sophia
I buy solid shampoos and conditioners. Sara Sophia
It was my idea to get rid of our TV because I realized it had become the enemy in our own living room. Michelle Conlin
We have moved a lot (one of the sacrifices we make for my husband's career) and we try to choose walkable places to live. It's a win-win: use the car less, and enjoy old-fashioned foot traffic interaction with people and places. Problem is, it's harder and harder to find places like this. Frugal Mama
Our community just started curbside composting. You can put *way* more stuff in than you can in your own little compost (like meat, eggshells, cat litter, all kinds of stuff). Tracy Mayor
Focusing locally is big for me - the artwork in my house (such as it is) was all created by local artists. Diane Mac
I do a lot of freezing of things we buy in bulk. We only shop once a month so I have a very stocked freezer. I make our own freezer meals and also make them for my in-laws. Lisa Sharp
[We sometimes take] no-impact vacations where we take the train and our
bikes to a local spot instead of going far, far away. Michelle Conlin
We just returned from a week of hiking and kayaking in the Pacific Northwest. We had no TV and it was amazing how much we read and talked and just reconnected with each other. Internet and cell phone coverage was spotty and eventually we just stopped checking for it. It was the most wonderful, spiritual, healthy vacation we have EVER had in our lives... robinWe grow some food of our own (small garden) and have canned some favorites. I don't think we save any money and it certainly is more effort and time, but I believe that being involved in our food is important for me and my children. Gina Rau
As Michael Pollan always says, stick to the perimeter of the grocery store--less packaging. Avoid the deadly and trans-fat and high-fructose-loaded middle aisles. Michelle Conlin
I use Dr. Bronner's bar soap but not liquid because of plastic bottle. Even though it's recycled plastic, they don't take it back for further recycling. BethTerry
It's not hard to "line dry" inside. We don't have a yard and yet we hang most of our clothes on a drying rack perched on the dining room table. BethTerryIn answer to the question, “Did you really forego toilet paper?”: There are millions of cleaner, more sanitary ways to deal with all things of this matter. For example, the bidet....which I jerry rigged for our family and found to be much cleaner. Michelle Conlin
We try and think about it wholistically, asking how we can change our time and money allocations--away from unsustainable products, unhealthy food, unhealthy activities, and boring things like electricity and gas bills--and towards the things we love: delicious and healthy food, fresh air, a night out on the town, an after school program. huntstevens
things we’re thinking of trying:
I have a great space for gardening and I have been thinking about community gardening in my yard with some neighbors, share the expense, labor and bounty. Cindy
Try not spending a dime for one day, one week, one month...it is amazing how liberating, exciting and freeing this one tip can be. Michelle Conlin
We're hoping to go down to one car and have my husband bike/Metro to work. It could mess up our weekends, since we have three busy kids, but we think we can make it work. urbanmama
I have been fantasizing about is doing yet another massive, mega purge. I do purges of our nanoplex--our 750-square-foot apartment--regularly. But this one would be the Mother of All Purges. I want to see how little stuff we can actually live with. I also love the idea of a clean, spartan space. Zen meets Eco meets Eames sort of thing. Michelle Conlin
We have talked about getting an old, banged-up sailboat--restoring it and then using it as our summer house, only we would sleep on the sailboat and visit friends on the Long Island Sound. Michelle Conlin
Take the family on a freegan expedition--there is nothing like seeing how one can live like a queen out of the consumer culture's waste bins. Michelle Conlin
Some benefits of the No Impact Year, quoting Michelle:
Immediate and automatic weight loss. I lost 15 pounds. Colin lost about 20 or 25.
I was a sugar-addicted trans fat junkie before the project and also pre diabetic. The local eating wiped that condition out.
I also suffered from rashes and miraculously those went away too. I felt healthier and I was healthier. The only funny health incident was the no Q tip thing....at one point something got stuck in my ear and I had to go to the doctor to have her remove it.....
I often refer to No Impact as the ultimate post-sub-prime financial plan. We cut our discretionary expenses by up to 80% at times … The magical financial trick for me was that once I made a decision to NOT spend, it became a great fun adventure to abstain. Like a game.
Michelle said in our conversation,
the year that she, her husband, young daughter and dog lived a no impact life
in New York City “ended up becoming one of the great adventures of my adult
life.” We feel lucky we got to be a part of this eye-opening,
thought-provoking, fun conversation with Michelle and great group of co-hosts
and be inspired in our own adventures!
There was so much more to the conversation - be sure to visit the actual Talk, Michelle Conlin and Her No Impact Year, to see all the GREAT ideas!!! Thank you to the wonderful co-hosts!!
Amy Suardi, Frugal Mama
Beth Terry, Fake Plastic Fish
Diane MacEachern, Big Green Purse
Maureen O'Connor, Alternative Consumer
Renee Limon, EnviroMom
Sandie Chen, Urban Mama
Susan Hunt Stevens, Practically Green
Tom Feegal, Green My Parents
Be sure to watch the television premier of the film “No Impact Man” this Saturday, August 28th at 10:00 pm ET on Planet Green!!!