Monday, March 26

Changing with others

The New York Times last week ran an article on this guy. The hook for their article was "The Year Without Toilet Paper", which did what good headlines do... got a lot of people worked up and interested. The toilet paper issue aside, I think the article's main point is what it looks like when a couple of New Yorkers try to hang on to what's essential about their lives and put the rest up for re-evaluation.

One of the things that's obviously essential to this couple is their relationship. But in the article, and more so in the blog, we hear the voice of one part of that couple. I wonder how you create such radical change without everyone having exactly the same values.

I've been wondering about this in my own home. There are three adults living here and I am dating. We all come to this place on the planet for different reasons, but there's something in each of us that makes this place a good place to be. Saturday morning we decided to go out for breakfast, and spontaneously decided we should take the recycling too. We got into a conversation about why we recycle. I'm motivated by global warming and reducing the impact of humans on the other species of the planet. Roommate #1 is motivated by a sense of duty. This is just what you do. Roommate #2 is new to recycling, but she knows it's important to us, so she participates as well. So we have different values that lead to the same end result. We all sort and look for times to take the recycling over to the recycling yard.

I have been changing the incandescents for CFLs unilaterally. This is not a value we all share, so in fixtures that take multiple bulbs, I've only changed half the bulbs for CFLs. This means there are still 8 high-use bulbs that could be changed out... and I could go there, but it is a higher value to me to have the house full of people than to use the minimum amount of electricity.

Similarly, Roommate #1 uses an electric blanket and Roommate #2 uses a space heater. Are these the most efficient ways to heat the areas that are most essential for comfort? Perhaps so. But I guess that's another of the areas where I'm not going to make decisions for others.

I'm also seriously researching my garden options, and both roommates have been very upfront in saying that I can't rely on them to help. That's good to know.

So the thing that intrigues me most about No Impact Man is this: how do they communicate about these things? What values do they each bring to the project?

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NotSoBigLiving is the story of a woman inspired by Sarah Susanka, Bill McKibben, Airstreams, Tumbleweed houses, Mennonites, Jimmy Carter, hippies, survivalists, Anasazi, Pema Chodron and Joko Beck, Scott Peck, Buckminster Fuller, and Al Gore to see what she can do to reduce her carbon footprint in her mid-80's suburban townhome. Strategies include roommates, alternative travel, organic eating, planting a victory garden, mindfulness, and a belly full of laughter.