25 July 2013

No Impact Man

So Purdue assigned all incoming freshmen with a common reading assignment.
It wasn't a huge deal to me because... I love reading! Of course, I wasn't able to pick the book and it certainly wasn't a book that I'd pick up on my own. But it was a quick, interesting read that caught my attention once I got into it.

The cover says it all, but the book chronicled the year that Colin Beavan and his family spent making as little impact on the planet. Infamously, the stop using toilet paper... among other things. I'm not exactly a "save the world" advocate, but the book did bring up some interesting points about just how much energy is used by Americans versus the rest of the world.

Naturally, our assignment was not only to read the book, but to answer a few questions too. Nothing too involved- what questions do you have? how did Colin's story get you thinking? etc. etc. All this environmental stuff got me thinking of ways in which we can lessen our impact on the world while improving quality of life (an idea that Colin hones in on for most of the book).

1. The introduction of public transportation to more American cities.
Colin mentions this briefly, but I think that it has a huge impact on the lives of Americans. As a commuter nation, people spend so many hours in their car- away from human interaction. Public transportation not only acts as a massive carpool, it gets people together. It gets communities talking and cuts down on traffic. On top of that, public transportation is moving to electricity. Still not exactly "Zero Impact", but it does lessen the carbon footprint per person.

2. Disposable Items
Colin mentions this almost every other sentence. From toilet paper to plastic bags to cars, our world is disposable. It's meant to be so that people stay in business. When things break, we buy more of it. So why would the industry try to make things that last? Regardless of this, there are small ways to make an impact. Number one on my list is to always use reusable cups when I get coffee. Not only is it a lot cuter, but I'm not making trash. I still am not sure what to do about cars and toilet paper, but reusable bags are much cuter than plastic ones, too.

Now I'm not some environmental freak who's out to condemn you. I'd have to seriously condemn myself, first. I'm just observing my thoughts that were brought up by an extreme experiment. And while I don't plan to go no impact, there are small ways to make less of an impact on the world and more of an impact on my peers and community.

and that's what I'm striving for.