Friday, 12 August 2016

No Impact Man-stepping lightly on the planet

No Impact Man-stepping lightly on the planet
By Behrooz Eslam

My parents brought me up to be frugal, resilient, a minimalist and to live within my means. My parents did not have a lot of money, and I grew up in a small household. My parents were raised the same way.  
When I was very young I remember learning to look after my belongings. If I lost one of my possessions, I was told it would not be replaced. This encouraged me to be responsible for what I had. For example, at school I took care of my jumper and hat. I’ve been living the same way ever since. 

We hear about the five ‘R’s’ refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle in that order. Saying “No” is a good start in reducing consumption. If I don’t consume something then I don’t have to think about getting rid of the waste. For example, I say no to plastic bags or any type of bag when buying a product.  

When I buy something I make sure I have a list of places to visit on that same trip. I plan what it is that I want and work out which tasks/chores I can do in the vicinity of that shop. For example, if I need to go to the hardware store, then I plan to do other shopping such as buying food, go to the ATM, buying stationery and visiting the plant nursery if these are the items on my list for that week. This saves time, money and energy. It is a more efficient way to operate.
When people are handing out flyers I say “No thanks.” At the ATM I don’t print a paper receipt. I look at the screen and remember the amount in my account. At the petrol station I don’t ask for a paper receipt. All of these little things add up to what impact we have. When I pay for a ticket on the internet, if there is no reason to print the ticket, then I simply show the electronic ticket on my mobile phone if asked at the entrance to the event. If I need to print paper, I do so on 100% recycled paper. 

I look for the most sustainable option I can find. This is why I support hemp. Most of my clothes are made from hemp. This is generally a more expensive lifestyle, however, I prioritise what is important to me. 

I went to the National Folk Festival in Canberra in 2007. It goes for four days. I took my own plate and metal cutlery. I bought lunch, dinner and snacks for the four days. I gave my plate to the vendor to put the food on. I did not create any waste. I washed my plate, cutlery and hands after each meal. When I sat at a table to eat my meal, people were inspired when I told them that I wasn’t creating any waste. I do this at every festival and outdoor event I go to. Your actions can inspire others to create change of habits.

I don’t like to buy presents for my relatives. I take them to events and places where they can have experiences. They are more likely to remember their experiences than ‘stuff’ I’ve bought them.
I recycle as much as I can of; paper/cardboard, plastic, glass and cans. If you don’t compost or have a worm farm, food waste and plants can go into the green waste bin. This will depend on which local council you live in.

I repair as much as I can. I have clothes sewn rather than buy something new.  I buy second hand items. It is common to buy a second hand car or home. Why not buy other items that are second hand? Items such as a bicycle, CD/DVD, furniture, musical instruments, books, prams, cots/basinets, baby car seats, the list is endless. As long as the item is hygienic and clean, there’s no reason to buy it new. 

I borrow tools off friends and they borrow what they require off me. This builds friendships and leads to healthy relationships. I always return items when I say I will.
When I’m cold I put on more clothes, ugg boots, a beanie and put a blanket on my lap if I’m sitting. I do this before I think about putting the heater on. Conversely in summer, I cool myself down before thinking about using an air-conditioner. I seal any draft places such as around doors and windows.

Once a week I buy a smoothie from a small shop in the Fremantle Markets. I take my own cup to get filled and get a small discount off the price. People need an incentive and reason to change habits. Money is a good reason.
In the bathroom I have a five-minute shower. There is a small timer in the shape of an hour glass with granules in it. It goes for five minutes. When I brush my teeth, I turn the tap off. This may seem like common sense, however, not everyone does this. When I wash my sheets/clothes, I wait until I have a full load of items before doing the washing. When I iron my shirts, I do the whole load of washing at one time. I don’t iron one shirt every day.  

When I first watched “No Impact Man” five years ago I remember vividly the community garden. I’ve been living in a small flat for many years and have wanted to grow my own organic food. In 2013 I started the Lake Monger Community Garden, and this year it has come to fruition. 

I’m 49 years of age. I’ve bought one mobile phone, one car, and one home in my lifetime. I’ve never had a credit card. I have a debit card. Obviously this is not going to work for everyone. I was brought up with good habits and these are the habits I will pass on.

Do what you can

 No Impact Man - Go that bit further.
1. Stairs. Where practical, take the stairs instead of the lift. ‘Burn fat not oil.’
2. Volunteer in community groups such as Transition Town and environmental groups.
3. Water saving devices, low flow shower head, tap aerators, native plant gardens (no or minimal lawns).
4. Work/public toilets. Shake hands after washing instead of using electric blower or paper towels. Have cloth towels in work toilets if possible.
6. Living Smart program run in conjunction with local councils.
7. Earth Carers course run by Mindarie Regional Council. Free.
10. Insulation. In the ceiling for old and in walls for new buildings.  



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