I typically engage in No Impact Week (NIW) during the 14th week of class. I feel this gives students enough time during the semester to be able to understand what it means to live sustainably, to try it as an exercise, and then to reflect on it briefly before the end of the semester. This means that NIW during the spring semester ALWAYS falls on my birthday week…but it also happens to be Earth Week! I have grown accustomed to having No Impact birthdays, and I quite like them. It usually involves friends making homemade food and coming over to our front porch to celebrate. But, this time, because we are doing NIW in the fall, it is actually falling on my partner’s birthday (and it’s a big one- 40!)–just our luck.
I have been feeling a bit guilty about forcing him to also have a no impact birthday. I have been racking my brain, trying to figure out how to help him have a memorable birthday without really buying him anything. I was finally inspired by a buzzfeed link that my sister serendipitously posted yesterday. It lifted my spirits and reminded me about the beauty of this project. That is, that once we start to see how much we can give up and still truly enjoy what we have, we can recognize the material things in our life that really don’t matter.
I was happy to recognize that my partner and I do not really crave material things (although we do crave a good steak from time to time). However, I still wanted to give him something that would make him happy. That is when I remembered this TEDx video. Putting the two together, I decided to give him the gift of giving. I gave him 4 envelopes: 3 of which contained $40 and 1 contained $40 worth of lotto tickets (I know consumption of paper, but I at least made my own card to make up for it). I told him that he could keep all of it for himself, or he could give it to people for different things. Maybe he would decide to pay for someone’s gas, or an oil change, or their dinner…it would be up to him. I figured this was a little like Colin’s equation of Negative Impact + Positive Impact = No Net Impact. I also sponsored a tree on Main Street in his name (the money for this goes to the Village). Finally, I framed some personal items of his to remind him of his successes thus far. Fingers crossed the recipient is as excited about this NI birthday as I am!