This last month I have been convicted to lower our personal impact on the environment after reading a book called No Impact Man. I found this book to be an inspiration which asks and inspires its’ readers to ask, “can one person really make a difference? Can that person be me?” As part of our post-move-vegetate-TV-binge, we rented the DVD so that Drew can also experience all of the things I’ve been talking about over the last month after reading them in the book.
The movers coming this past week made me reflect a lot about how much impact I will make on the environment just with this one move. First, there are all of the flights that I will take this summer, including the final three that Drew and I will take together all the way from Detroit, through Boston, through Istanbul, finally to Tashkent! Next, there is the matter of our shipment to Tashkent. Think of the fuel emissions a ground transport is going to take up getting our 2 shipping crates from the Veneto all the way to Tashkent. Then add all of the extra emissions with the two crates (and the car!) going to the States. This all left me feeling a little excessive in my lifestyle. It didn’t console me to look at others and say, “Oh well they shipped 25 crates of crap, and I’ve only got 2.” The environment is something that I care about and I believe my actions personally impact, even with only 2 crates. The point is not to look at how others live, but how I personally am living.
After watching the documentary today, we felt convicted to come up with our own “low impact ex-pat manifesto” with the understanding that we will never make NO impact if we continue to choose a lifestyle where we are living overseas and relying on airplanes to get us places. Of course, one obvious choice is to choose not to be expats or even travel, but I don’t think that either of us could survive with that choice. 😉 With that in mind, we feel that we can still strive for a LOW environmental impact. We’ve come up with our own personal Low Impact Pledge and we want to share it here. Our plan and goal is to report back to you how this pledge is working out for us in the next year as we transition to living in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in August and as we continue our travels in Asia and Europe into 2016.
The PashbyMaul Adventures Low Impact Pledge:
- Live without owning a car. We commit to using public transportation (metros, buses, trains) and our own force (walking, biking) to get us where we need to go.
- Live without the kleenex box. No more tissue boxes will be bought. We have already transitioned to using the old-fashioned hankies. This may seem ridiculous, but whenever I use my cute vintage handkerchiefs that I was gifted last week, I feel a surge of adrenaline as I realize that I did not use part of a tree that cannot be recycled to wipe my nose!
- Eliminate paper towels. Paper towels are used in our household now mainly as a cleaning tool and a napkin in packed lunches. We plan to make the change by using rags or kitchen towels as our cleaning supplies, and using real napkins in packed lunches.
- Use reusable produce bags at the market. Whenever I go to our fruit and vegetable guy or the organic food store, I need to use a paper bag to place all produce and weigh it in. Of course I always reuse those paper bags when I go the next time, but they don’t last forever and I had to recycle a bunch of them before our pack-out. Our new plan is to purchase organic cotton produce bags and use them instead of store-provided produce bags. I realize that in a lot of locations, this will require a chat with the manager and many potentially confused cashiers, so I guess we’re also committed to building relationships with people in order to use those reusable bags.
- Continue to use our reusable grocery bags. We already store reusable bags in the car (purse, backpack…) and use them whenever we go to the store. Sometimes persuading the cashier that yes, we only need to use these 2-3 reusable bags, and no plastic, becomes necessary. We still plan on carrying reusable grocery bags with us wherever we are. In fact, 3 of them are in our luggage to use this summer.
- Eat local whenever possible. This means reducing the amount of emissions we support financially with our purchases of things like bananas and avocados. Unfortunately I still haven’t been able to swear off of those two things, which are two of my favorite go-to snacks, but life is a work in progress!
- Limit our Air Conditioning/Heating. Our current goal is to only let our AC get as low as 24C/75F and only let our heating get as high as 18C/65F. (Of course, people who know me well know that I am always cold, so I don’t know how I’m going to do this come winter, but I will!)
- Only allow ourselves 2 shipping crates, with the goal of lowering our possessions to 1 crate and giving joyfully from our abundance. This will be a long-term goal and you may not read more about this particular one until we move again. Of course we’re not sure when we’ll move again, so you’ll need to stay tuned for the long-haul!
We hope you enjoyed reading our personal Low Impact Pledge. Please stay tuned in the coming months as we update you on our progress as we put this pledge into practice in a new country and home. What about you? How do you live the ex-pat life and lower your impact on the environment?