Okay, here's what I DON'T do:

Unplug electronics when not in use
Not watch TV
Take 3-minute showers
Walk or ride a bike everywhere
Make my own cleaning products
Save the water from my showers to water plants and to flush the toilet
Fill the sink with water when I do dishes
Use rags instead of paper towels

Here's what I DO do:

Eat 90% organic
Recycle everything (and in Santa Barbara, I mean everything)
Eat a vegetarian diet (no, that doesn't include the occasional burger or fish taco -- then I wouldn't be vegetarian, would I?)
Shop at thrift stores
Trade books at PaperbackSwap.com instead of buying new ones
Avoid fast food
Carry a Sigg bottle instead of buying bottled water
Wash and reuse plastic bags as many times as possible
Use the same cup all day (and sometimes the same plate, too)
Use reusable shopping bags
Turn off the water when brushing my teeth

Just to give you an idea of where I started from this week...

I joined the No Impact Experiment last Sunday to see if I could be influenced to change some of my earth-impacting ways. The week's not over yet, and I can hardly say I had no impact. But I did learn some great lessons about myself and made a little progress in my awareness.

Day one was "Consumption" day, and I think this is the area in which I have the most trouble. As I posted in the No Impact Project forum:

"If I need or want something, I buy it mostly without a second thought, even if it's from the thrift store. It's been good for me to question my buying habits this week, even down to food shopping.

Hubby works at a specialty foods market and I e-mail him a list just about every day of items I want him to bring home. This week, I've been really conscious about cooking with what I already have. Even though I need peanut oil, can I get by with olive oil for a few more days? Even though I 'need' waffles, can I get by with the other breakfast foods already in stock? Do I really need to buy more food when I already have a bulging freezer and cupboards?"

So on Sunday, I challenged myself. I've been wanting to buy a "banana hanger," both to free up space on my tiny kitchen counters and to keep my bananas from getting bruised in the fruit pile. I was planning to go look for one, but decided to try to make one in order to avoid buying something. I used a coat hanger and bent it in a way that I could hang it on a hook in my kitchen. One less thing to buy!

I mailed a package to a Speak Schmeak reader wrapped in one of my already-printed handouts instead of using a new envelope or other wrap.

I downloaded the application Evernote to my computer and Palm Pre so that I can stop using scraps of paper for my lists, travel directions and to-dos. So far, I love it!

Every time I left a room, I was conscious of the lights. Every time I thought of picking up a newspaper, I realized I could read it online. Overall, I was more conscious of my consumption, my waste, my water and power usage, my driving and other areas of eco-impact.

Even though I didn't make huge changes this week that I can sing from the rooftops, I am proud of my conscious efforts and I believe that this will be the beginning of change for me. Check out the No Impact Project page, and download the How-To Manual for the No Impact Experiment.

It's all about baby steps. What are you taking baby steps to change?

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