The Water Challenge Chronicles – Alex, Week 4
Halfway through Food & Water Watch‚ own Water Challenge, Jon and I have finally seen the film that inspired the challenge- No Impact Man. This past Friday night, the two of us attended the DC premier of the movie. Actually, maybe ‚opening” is more accurate- ‚premier” makes it sound kind of glamorous, which it wasnt. While there were no celebrities or red carpets (although I did have my own entourage, consisting of my friends, my sister, my officemate, and girlfriend), it was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the movie, and seeing it has made me reconsider some of my feelings about this whole project.
For one thing, what Colin Beavan and his family did for a whole year really makes our challenge feel a little absurd. Were changing our showerheads and not flushing as much; these guys stopped buying anything new and eventually had their power turned off. Voluntarily. On purpose. While most people are clearly not going to go that far (even the No Impact family had their power turned back on at the end of the year), this movie makes you think about what you really do and do not need. Do we have to use so much packaging? Do we have to use so much water? Do we really need to run our air conditioning all summer long?
When the No Impact family gave up all of that stuff for a year, it helped them see what they really could do without, and they didnt go back to everything when the year was up. Ive been approaching this project with the attitude that I cant really make a huge difference with personal choices, so I need to work at making changes on a bigger level, like by asking my apartment building‚ management to replace aging washing machines with more efficient models. But now I find myself wondering if that‚ enough. Maybe I should be taking more personal responsibility, and maybe saying, ‚Well, I have an apartment, so there‚ not much I can do” isnt right.
If it sounds like participating in this challenge has made me all philosophical about being an environmentalist, I guess it‚ because it kind of has. It‚ so hard to know what to do. I think there are probably lots of people out there like me, who want to do more and make positive changes, but arent sure which are the best ways to go about that. After we spoke after the movie Friday night, we took questions from the audience. I had been feeling pretty good about my idea to replace the washers in my apartment building, but then a woman at the screening asked me if it wasnt better to keep the old machines, because replacing them would require producing 10 new ones and disposing of 10 old ones.
I tried to have the woman escorted from the theater, but apparently there was no security(?!), so I was forced to try to come up with an answer. I realized I really didnt know. Itd be nice if there were a trustworthy, comprehensive guide on ways to create the smallest impact possible, but right now it seems as though there‚ a ton of information out there, much of it conflicting and much of it (probably intentionally, on the part of greenwashing companies) bad.
Im just feeling a little overwhelmed after seeing the movie, now that I realize that there‚ probably a lot more I could be doing, and that some of the things I have been doing probably arent as helpful as I thought. So here‚ what Im going to continue to focus on, at least for the remainder of this challenge: Still letting the yellow mellow (which really does add up), still drinking a lot less beer, eating a lot less meat, replacing my showerhead with a low-flow, and using fewer bags and avoiding packaging (the production of which must require plenty of water, and really, we just use a ridiculous amount of packaging for everything).
Im a little behind on replacing my showerhead, but Im going to before next week and will have a special video blog displaying my ineptitude at installing things. Sure to be entertaining!