Simplify 2011 (No Impact Week Retrospective)

Jan 12, 2011 by Annie Koh | Story Popularity: 3

So I'm already halfway through the Week After No Impact Week, and figured I should take a minute to reflect on last week's efforts. Sometimes I get bummed out that the most obvious way we interact with the world is through consumption. The philosopher Slavoj Zizek had a great talk (uploaded above) on this recent version of capitalism in which "you don't just buy a coffee... in the very consumerist act itself, you buy your own redemption from being only a consumerist -- you do something for the environment, you do something to help starving children in Guatamala..." And I confess, there is a sproing of joy in my heart when I buy "organic" that is not dissimilar to the sproing of joy in my heart I felt when I bought the "alterna" shoes back in high school. Through these purchases, I express my allegiances to certain values and ideals.

Thus, No Consumption and No Trash challenges were hardest for me. I am shockingly well trained as a consumer. I can be a thoughtful, environmentally-minded, local-business-supporting consumer, but nonetheless I am still a consumer. Unplugging from the computer for an Eco Sabbath also proved impossible for me. I am addicted to that rush of information intake. [Insert William Gibson cyberpunk reference here :-)] For once, though, I plucked a few facts from that flood of data and retained them and shared them, both here and in conversations with friends. Saturday night I even got friends to watch Our Daily Bread (, the narration-less documentary on industrial food production that quietly horrified us. And Food, Transportation, Energy, and Water all turned out to encompass much more than I anticipated, and were areas in which individual action alone is clearly insufficient. Which just gets me even more excited about how Kanu members will be working together in 2011 to push for some system-wide changes in those areas!


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  1. What a great series of journal entries. Before reading these posts, I'd never heard of No Impact Week. I've been attempting to make semi-meaningful progress on the "100 Thing Challenge" which is, in some respect, a commitment distantly akin to No Impact Week if you count reducing the amount of crap you own, refusing to replace it with newer, cooler (but nonetheless frivolous and unnecessary crap) and reusing or repurposing the crap you decide to retain.

    The idea of this more structured and time-limited challenge does seem more attractive to me. . .but one selfsocietyenvironment-enhancing-project at a time I guess!

    Love the posts!

  2. Annie Koh says:

    Glad you liked the entries - I had fun writing them! I would love read a journal on your experiences with the 100 Thing Challenge. I can't even stick to the very sensible "Acquire 1 thing, Donate/discard 1 thing" rule. While I've been using Paperback Swap to keep my book acquisition habit under some semblance of control and there's a bag of clothes to take to the consignment shops, I'm still piling up stuff like the thoroughly indoctrinated consumer that I am (in the last two weeks, not counting edible purchases, I've bought 2 or 3 pieces of kitchenware, a pair of sandals, two books, a dress, and some accessories for my bike. Ye gads!)

  3. A.B. says:

    seems impossible to have zero impact though

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