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Monday, April 12, 2010

High Impact Man

Shelly and I were watching a documentary this weekend about a family in NY City that went a year trying to have as little impact on the environment as possible. He called himself No Impact Man (I call him NIM for short) - as in, no net impact on the environment. So his family went through a process over a 12-month period where they reduced their garbage output to nearly nothing, went without electricity, didn't use carbon-emitting vehicles (that would be about everything but a bicycle), only locally grown food, no meat, etc., etc. All well and good, but the thing that caught my attention the most was that their spoken reasons for doing the entire project were rather flimsy. In a couple of places throughout the film he, NIM, tries to explain why they went through this exercise and he honestly seemed to be making it up on the fly. Something about living according to his values and concern for the world and man's impact on it, and so on.

At any rate, other than the raging liberal mantra throughout the piece, aspects of what this family was trying to do resonated with us and what we as a family are trying to do. First of all, we do care a great deal about the environment, but I subscribe to a different set of values than NIM. My worldview is such that the world was created for man, as it says in Genesis, to subdue. So I think everything we have at our fingertips is ours to use. But I also feel strongly that we need to take good care of it and ensure that it is taken care of. Basically that we tend to the earth like we do our cars - as if any scratch or dent is a blemish and costly to remove, but important to do so.

We are interested in reducing what we use and watching how we utilize everything in our house in order to keep focused on the fact that we (the collective "We") consume as if we are entitled to everything we can possibly get our hands on. As if the money we have now is actually already spent (if only in our own minds) on things we want. You might interpret "want" as "need" as we used to.

Well, I shouldn't be so hard on No Impact Man since at least he is doing something. He is encouraging all of us to take a long hard look at everything we are doing and evaluate whether or not it's worth it. His conclusion is that most of what we spend our time and money on is not worth it in the long run. The overall "costs" are too high in most cases and changes need to be made. I couldn't agree more. This is similar to what we are saying: Look at everything, put it all on the table, and decide if it is really something you need to be spending your time and money on. If not, stop or get rid of it and give that money to a worthy cause.

That last part, about giving the remainder away as opposed to socking it away for the Playstation or Gucci bag, is where the High Impact version of this comes in. We are hoping that we can change how our family spends and re-focus that money in a way that will have a large and lasting impact on someone other than ourselves and someone in desperate need of life's bare essentials.


Jennie said...

Y'all rock!
(that would be "you guys rock!" up here in MN, but I didn't know if that would compute in your sweet Southern vocab) :-)

Glad to find your blog. We'll definitely be praying for you and your choices, as well as Dan's upcoming trip to Uganda. And it was super fun to see pics of the kids at the Harty's house!