[Welcome, Good Morning America and Nightline viewers. Don't be shy, feel free to jump in on Low Impact Week!]
So, you want to participate in Low Impact Week to try out a few changes and see how hard it is. But, you also are curious to see if even just one week's changes make a difference.
Well, to help get you started on seeing what kind of effect Low Impact Week will make, it's probably a good idea to establish a baseline, so to speak, of your current impact.
First - decide which things you are going to do from the 7 areas of impact. Then - in the next week or so, calculate out how much you use/throw out, etc. for one week. For example (the links tell you how to do it):
1. Energy consumption: On day one of this "test week" read your meters for your electricity, gas, and oil (if you can). [Another way to eyeball it is to take your statements and divide by 4.3 to get approximately how much usage you have per week.] Take readings again at the end of the test week.
2. Water usage: Same deal - read your meter. They are generally under a plate in the sidewalk, but this may differ where you live.
3. Food habits: This is a little harder. Depending on the specific action item, say plastic bags, count how many plastic bags you acquire during the test week. Maybe count how many pre-packaged frozen food items you consume during the week. Count how many meals include meat or animal products.
4. Paper products: Try to keep a mental note as to how many paper towels you use this week. Again, this probably will mean counting or some sort of tally. Same thing with paper printouts.
5. Garbage output: How many bags of garbage did you throw out during the week?
6. Car usage: How many miles did you drive alone?
7. Do more: This is more about researching what other things you want to do. So, find out if you have an alternative energy plan available, find out how to remove your name from junk mail lists, see how many light bulbs you could replace, determine if you have the space and resolve for a compost bin or rain barrel.
See how easy this is? Well, if you don't mind a little counting and some subtractin'.
If this is still too much for you, I've created a very handy dandy little Google spreadsheet for you to view. There's also an Excel spreadsheet version if you want to save it for yourself.
Right now the Google spreadsheet is "view only", but if you all want to keep yourselves accountable to the world, I can make it open for you to edit and add your own values.
I'll be creating a similar style spreadsheet for the actual Low Impact Week so you can track what changes you are making. Let me know if this is something you want to be able to edit online so you can share with others what you are doing.