Sunday, 9 January 2011

No Impact Week - Day 1 - Consumption

'99% of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, transport - 99% of the stuff we run through this production system is trashed within 6 months.' Annie Leonard: The Story of Stuff

It's a sobering note on which to launch my No Impact Week.

My first task was to make a list of everything I needed to buy this week and then delete anything I could do without. Then I had to consider which, if any, of the remaining items I could buy secondhand, borrow or make for myself.

Well I've made my list and it here it is:

Portable radio
Blood pressure tablets

The food has got to stay. I've planned my menus for the week to cut down on shopping trips and ensure that I only buy what I need. I've also taken stock of what I have in store and will use mince and sausages from the freezer. I'll opt for free range/organic and buy as many items as possible from local shops and markets.

I need a new pair of slippers. I bought my current pair because they were cheap but they've never fitted properly and the soles have worn through in several places. I was given an M&S voucher at Christmas and was going to go into town on Saturday to spend it. It's not technically shopping but I could make do for a while longer. The trouble with going into town is that I invariably come home with more than I intended to.

The portable radio I was given as a birthday present many years ago has broken. I'm not exactly sure what happened but it gave off a nasty burning smell the other evening and hasn't worked since. It sits on a shelf in the kitchen and I listen to it all day, from the Today programme in the morning to the 6:30 comedy slot in the evening. I also use it to tell the time. Although I've only been without it since Thursday I miss it dreadfully and will have to replace it as soon as possible. It's probably irreparable but I think I'll take it in to our local electrical shop to ask their advice. I'm sure that if I lived in India there would be someone who could fix it for a small fee. Here it's probably just as cheap to buy a new one and in any case I'm told the FM analogue signal is going to be switched off very soon. I could look for a second hand one but with items that are going to be used on a regular basis I think it's worth buying good quality to ensure that they won't just have to be replaced in a short time. So I've done some research and found a Roberts DAB radio with reduced power consumption and an increased battery life. In addition all the cardboard packaging is made from recycled paper.

My blood pressure tablets are not negotiable for obvious reasons.

So what have I learnt from today's exercise?

1 Making lists (and sticking to them!) is a good discipline.
2 Buying cheap goods isn't always a good idea.
3 Some goods have built in obsolescence.
4 The best way to avoid unnecessary purchases is to stay away from shopping centres.


  1. I'd miss having a radio, too. We have several, so I try to remember to switch each one off when I leave the room it is in, unless returning in a matter of minutes.

    Good luck with your No Impact week.

  2. Yes!

    I find the same. Just leaving the house seems to involve spending money.

    Although we did manage a walk today on Purdown, Bristol with no stops in cafe or shop.

    I like lists a lot - at leats one written every day.

    I like the idea of a list to curb consumption.


  3. Good luck - we've really enjoyed our week! We did some research on radios recently & thought Roberts came out the best, but we can't get many digital channels where we live in Cornwall...

  4. Thanks for all your encouragement. I'm looking forward to the challenge.