In the words of Coling Beavan: Day one, and the whole thing is a big mistake

Sunday night: Danni sets up everything she’ll need for the first day of NIW. She plugs in phone and computer, setting a reminder to turn off the power strip in the morning, washes her reusable coffee mug, and goes to bed at a reasonable hour. Everything is looking good for the start of the week.

Monday morning: Danni wakes up with a very strong urge to blow her nose. As she stumbles out of bed to the tissue box, her hand freezes as she realizes she is facing exactly the same dilemma that Colin did on his first day of No Impact.

The realization was both disconcerting and amusing. The mental steps I had to take followed exactly those that Colin described in No Impact Man. Somehow I expected that I would be better prepared, having read about his experience and examined different modes of reducing carbon footprints over the past couple of weeks. It seems that I was mistaken, but, no matter. My sleep-clouded brain eventually reached the conclusion that I would need to carry a handkerchief, and I pulled a star-spangled bandanna from my sock drawer in the spirit of the project.

Round two began when I realized that I was already too late to go to Huffman for breakfast.┬áNot a problem, I’ll just pick up a bagel from Slayter on the way to class – NOPE. Foiled again. Bagels from Slayter come in single use plastic bags, and the cream cheese in little plastic top-larger-than-the-bottom cups. I settle for a handful of almonds, the bag for which I can wash and reuse.

The day is not half gone, and already it is riddled with missteps. I have caught myself twice trying to dry my hands on single use towels. I have nearly ordered a latte instead of a refill. I have considered buying a coat from the bookstore because I was silly enough to wear only a sweatshirt to class. It likely will get easier, but as of now, my NIW is off to a bit of a rocky start.



  1. Wow…your commitment is amazing! Pretty sure I would have just said, “ah oh well” to at least one of those missteps. I also reached for a tissue (actually toilet paper), but didn’t realize my misstep until it was filled with my mucus….so much for that. And, I’ve done this plenty of times to know that this is literally the number one mistake. Well tissue for the nose and paper towels for everything else….which I also did (more about it later though). Good luck with tomorrow!

  2. It is the unexpected things that seem trip us up, like waking up late, or forgetting an item. No Impact requires us to be even more organized. This could be refreshing. Good job with keeping yourself in check and not making those extra purchases.

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