While walking home the other day, I noticed my shoe was untied. In a lethargic fashion, I first didn’t care about my laces swaying to and fro as I walked. After some thought, I tied my shoe – not because it was annoying, but because it was the more sustainable thing to do.
My logic was that tying my laces would preserve them better than allowing them to be stepped on and slosh around on the snowy and dirty pavement. Although that may be perceived as silly, it will allow my laces to stay in tact for longer, and allow me to not give into planned obsolescence for a greater period of time.
This thought might seem radical – but I ensure you that there are eco-radicals that have taken the concept much further. The term isn’t meant to be condescending, but to highlight a group of people who have taken sustainability to the next level, all in the name of conservation and awareness.
Enter No Impact Man (also known as Colin Beavan), a man who turned his (and his family’s) world upside-down for one year in order to make no net impact on the environment. This bold change was far from swift – from no electricity in their New York apartment, to only eating local foods from farmers markets and not allowing the use of toilet paper and caffeine, the family endured it all. This was also enhanced through volunteering with the community, turning his no impact lifestyle into one of positive impact.
Another prominent figure was Vanessa Farquharson, owner of the Green as a Thistle blog and the author of Sleeping Naked is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days. As the title suggests, she made one change in her daily routines per day, creating a hyper-eco-friendly lifestyle in one year (and yes, as the title suggests, she switched to nude sleeping).
These ideas are amazing conservation efforts that are often scrutinized for the wrong reasons. Beavan was often bashed on his online blog about whether his project actually created no net impact, picking at the details of many of his eco-choices. Farquharson also had similar bouts with online commenters (some said sleeping naked isn’t green, because it simply requires more sheet washing). To me, this is semantics that attempt to mask the great awareness initiative that can positively impact many communities.
Through hearing these people’s stories, it empowers us to make a change – one that I love to see and hear about. Eco-radicals are the kind of eco-heroes that make me tie my shoes and fuel my love for the environment. I hope they have the same impact on you, too.