I must admit that after downloading the guide to Huffington Post's participative "No Impact Week" experiment, my initial thought was one of dread. It seemed like participating was going to be a chore. But then I decided I was just being lazy and arrogant.
Are you feeling the same way?
What it boils down to is that while the guide wasn't intended to make me feel burdened, initially it did. It's not because what it asks me to do is challenging. It's because deep down I know that I can improve my efforts. Sure, much of the information inside the guide is not news to me. But it reminded me that I could do better to reduce my own impact.
I've lived in Peru with my family for the last few years. My primary job since we came has been as the primary caretaker of our daughter Coral. She was just four months old when we arrived and is now two years old.
So what's the relevance? In all honesty when it comes to doing the better thing for the environment, moving away from the U.S. and having a child has made me a little lazier, a little more prone to take the easy road.
I have had plenty of excuses for inaction: I'm a new dad, I'm living in a new country, maybe it's not safe to walk around, the circumstances are different here, doing something will take effort and might make me more tired than I already am, it's not part of the culture to do that here.
I've even found ways to compare our family to others in a way that perhaps isn't so positive. For instance, my family is the only one in our building that recycles. All it involves is putting a bag out on the street every Wednesday morning with our week's worth of bottles, milk boxes, and so on. Doing this made me feel good until now. After looking at the No Impact Week guide, I felt ashamed that this had become a sort of false crutch upon which I could hang my environmental credibility.
As I already wrote, I know I can do better.
The guide has provided me with some ideas about how I can make some improvements to our daily routine that aren't really going to rock the boat -- but could indeed lead to significant improvements in my family's life.
For instance, before I had a driver's license in Peru, I went to a local park more often with my daughter. It's just a short walk away. Even though the weather has been crappy for the past few months in Lima (we are at the end of winter here), the car has just made it easier to go places where we don't really need to go. For instance, we now make a lot of inefficient trips to the grocery store. It's been bothering me that we are wasting so much time there.
I've also become chubby. My daughter's preschool is a 25 minute walk away, and I've been telling myself that I want to lose weight and get more exercise. But nonetheless, the car has won out, as well as my desire to have the maximum time I can to myself while my daughter is out of my hands (and most of it is spent on the energy-sucking computer).
So what I am saying is that perhaps No Impact Week is the kick in the butt I needed. My guess is that I'm among a large group people who do care about the Earth and the impact they make, but perhaps have also become lazy or willing to cut themselves too much slack as to how they are helping.
Returning to my premise, will living abroad in Peru make No Impact Week harder for me? I doubt it. If anything I bet it will make it easier.
I plan to check in a few more times and write about my experiences during the week. Whenever it is relevant, I will try to provide commentary about my environmental impact and if my attempts to improve it are influenced by cultural and logistical differences in Peru. I'm also going to do my best to be honest about both my successes and failures, and hopefully embrace the project with a sense of humor. I hope you do as well.
If you'd like more information about No Impact Week and want to join me and countless others in taking part, please click here.
To Sign Up For HuffPost's No Impact Week which starts October 18th, Click Here!