A matter of coping blocks and will power..

Around 8:00pm on Monday, the first day of no impact week, I found myself using my personal laptop on my own bed, in my own room, with my own lamps and Christmas lights lighting the room.  I was taking some “ho-hum” time, as our inspiration for the week, Colin Beavan, would term such leisure and carefree time.  Monday, not unlike other days in the week, are utterly exhausting days that begin at 8:30am in French class and and end at 3:00am after a shift at the Bandersnatch.  In order to see the day through at maximum performance, I give myself coping blocks–warm oatmeal and a cup of coffee for breakfast, a post-lunch nap, and down time in my room before work at 11:00pm.

As a disclaimer, I view my lifestyle up until this point as relatively low-impact.  I don’t consume a lot of gas or fast food, nor do I bask in long, hot showers.  Plus I spent 8 months taking bucket showers and living without electricity, so I often feel like I can take a little extra here and there because I conserved so much during that time (contrary to the lesson you would think I had learned).

According to the goals I set for the week, I should spent time in common spaces lit regardless of my presence, and use desktops in computer labs or the library that are powered up regardless of me as a user.  But the comfort of my bed and the exhaustion of the day drew me away from those goals.  I wrote into my goals that one of my only forms of waste would be that paper oatmeal packaging.  I wasn’t willing to give it up (also partially due to my meal plan which allows me to frequent the dining hall twice per day on average).  Honestly, I surprised myself in the resistance I put up in conforming to my No Impact goals.  I justified the use of electricity and the production of waste based on emotional needs and coping blocks.  I was hard pressed to rationalize making such sacrifices.  So, as the week progresses, I hope to build an internal conservation ethic beyond what I already practice.  I hope to be able to rationalize making these changes in my habits and to find new coping mechanisms for the stressful student life I lead.

Grace Bachmann


  1. Being a student definitely makes it difficult to be completely No Impact. The comfort of my room always leads me to studying in there late at night. I find being in a common space prevents me from completing as much work. I completely understand rationalizing the use of electricity and oatmeal packages as it is human nature. I think making small steps, such as being in a common study space for double as much time as normal or eating half as much oatmeal as before will help with the human nature of rationalizing.

  2. habits are what kill beliefs. change to much and you can destroy yourself when your habits kick in. this is why you’ve got to just take things slow. dont rush anything so you can think of all the actions you do.

  3. I agree. It seems like the biggest barriers to self-improvement in this respect are the ones we place on ourselves so that we can continue to live in a style we’re accustomed to. Prime example: justifying turning the lights on in the room because natural light apparently isn’t enough to comb my hair, put on my jeans, and pick out a shirt so I just convince myself to do it anyway (not this week, though!).

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