For a potential client, I have been spending some time thinking about the various strategies for inspiring new, greener behaviors and how one gets new solutions to spread throughout a corporation. How long does one need to commit to a new behavior before it becomes a new habit? Will a friendly competition between offices spur action? In the midst of pondering these questions, I stumbled upon the No Impact Experiment, sponsored by the No Impact Project.
The No Impact Experiment challenges participants to go on a one-week carbon cleanse–a chance see what a difference no-impact living can have on our quality of life. According to the web site, “It’s not about giving up creature comforts but an opportunity for you to test whether the modern ‘conveniences’ you take for granted are actually making you happier or just eating away at your time and money.”
While I already live a rather green lifestyle, I know there is room for improvement. And since I am contemplating asking employees to commit to new behaviors, I thought it would be a good idea to try the No Impact Program. 3p writer Carly Smolak gave it a shot last October, and I figured now it was my turn.
The seven-day program covers a range of challenges that build each day–starting with consumption, the program integrates awareness around trash, transportation, food, energy and water. When I tried to start the program last week, I happily went to the farmers market with my reusable bags. But it was a cold and damp Sunday morning and I wanted some hot, steamy coffee, but I didn’t have a mug with me. And I drove to the market. So much for my No Impact morning.
I broke the “don’t generate waste” rule when I gave into my coffee urge and desire for immediate gratification, leaving a paper cup in my wake. And I broke another rule (don’t buy anything new) when I bought the book No Impact Man, which chronicles Colin Beavan’s experiment to cause as little negative environmental impact as possible while living in New York City. OK, so, nobody said this was going to be easy.
I had the opportunity to speak with Colin, the No Impact Man himself. When I shared my experience, he suggested it was hard for me because I was doing it alone. So I’ve signed up for the week program that the No Impact Project is launching Jan. 10th.
I’m not exactly sure what a corporate version of the experiment might look like. I spoke earlier today with a green team member from Intel who shared that last year he made a pledge at work to minimize his intake of processed food for two weeks. And he found the experience did have a permanent impact on raising his awareness about his food choices. The No Impact Experiment seems much more challenging than taking on one new behavior, but perhaps an experience like this, even for only a week, can touch people in an unexpected way and inspire remarkable new ways of doing business.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Deborah Fleischer is president of Green Impact, a strategic environmental consulting practice that helps companies engage employees, strengthen their relationships with stakeholders, develop profitable green initiatives and communicate their successes and challenges. You can follow her occasional tweet @GreenImpact or contact her directly at Deborah@greenimpact.com.