January 2nd, 2011

Day 1: Consumption

One day into the No Impact Experiment, and I have already had the realization that I am far less concerned with the strictness of a short-term experiment than using this week as a platform for evaluating, researching and laying the groundwork for longer-term change. So what you’ll find on the blog this week is less a journal of my specific experiences of this week, and more of a reflection of what I have already been doing over the past few years, useful resources and a list of things that I plan to do in the coming weeks and months to further reduce my impact.

One of the benefits of a small house is that there simply isn’t a lot of room to accumulate clutter. We don’t really have room to store things we don’t use, and we have to think twice before bringing in more stuff. As anyone who has walked through our house has probably noticed, this usually involves books or records.

In September 2009, the New York Times published an article on self-storage units. Not only are Americans buying more and more stuff to put in their homes that have been gaining in size over the past few decades, they are running out of room to store it, and one out of ten households are now paying to store their stuff at off-site storage units.

The article includes some astounding figures, noting that “the United States now has 2.3 billion square feet of self-storage space. (The Self Storage Association notes that, with more than seven square feet for every man, woman and child, it’s now ‘physically possible that every American could stand — all at the same time — under the total canopy of self-storage roofing.’)” Unbounded consumerism leads to the expansion of homes and debt that we can cannot sustain on a personal, global or environmental level. So we, for one, will let the confines of our small house help to regulate the boundaries of our consumerism.

That said, there are still a few areas that can be addressed: the closet, the medicine cabinet and the cleaning supplies.

Matt has been sewing his own clothes for years, while I continue to pay lots of money for clothes that oftentimes don’t fit quite right and wear out too easily. And so, I have officially begun my “apprenticeship.” First project: a wool skirt. Next up: pants. Thanks to my big sis, I have started my first knitting project as well.

A few things I will not be putting on the shopping list in the near future: toothpaste and cleaning supplies. I have come across lots of great resources for making your own, including a chapter on cleaning supplies in Harriet Fasenfest’s A Householder’s Guide to the Universe, which I’m reading right now. Besides the fact that these solutions are cheap and nontoxic, I really like the simplicity of knowing that a few items (white vinegar, baking soda, castille soap, etc.) can meet your cleaning needs for everything from body to home.

1 Comment

  1. I enjoyed the NY Times article. My house has approx. 2,200 sq. ft. and about 200 are not covered with stuff! Really! We have areas we haven’t visited in 40 years! Fighting clutter has been a losing battle for me.

    Comment by Jim — January 9, 2011 @ 15:58

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