Low Impact Adventures and What Those Have To Do With My Life As a Man

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No, this isn’t a transgender confession. At least not in the traditional sense – just read on.

Last month I posted my dismay at our planet in peril. Since then, I’ve been working steadily at becoming a lower impact individual and all I can really say so early on is this will certainly be an intriguing journey.


First (and in no particular order) I’m surprised at the times I feel foolish embarking on this journey. There’s the fact that this it is SO obvious that I should be further along on being low impact. I watched An Inconvenient Truth. What’s taken me so long?! I’m slightly embarrassed to talk to my activist pals about how I’ve discovered the method of doing my dishes more efficiently (two tubs of water – one for soapy, one for rinse – start with glassware – then move through cutlery, dishes, pots and pans – saves lot of water). The word paltry comes to mind. But alas, we must crawl before we walk. And this parody on the comedy site The Onion helps shore me up.

I’ve also found myself embarrassed to be low-impact in public. I took my groovy tin cup along with me on my recent driving trip to Maine (I’ve been failing miserably on the carbon emissions front) so I wouldn’t waste disposable cups at rest stops. I’m embarrassed to say I was too embarrassed to ask Starbucks barristas to use my cup instead of their paper cup (although I asked them to refill three of my water bottles with no trepidation – go figure). The outcome turned out to be MORE impactful though, because I chose no coffee over coffee in a paper cup. It just points out to me how insanely consumerist our culture is – and how we are ALL caught in that system in ways we can’t even imagine.

Second, I HAVE unearthed the makings of a lower impact lifestyle and how that brings intimacy to my interactions with my people, my stuff and my food. Doing dishes (as above), turning off the water while lathering in shower, sharing paint, supplies, tools with neighbors. My cabin walls are now painted a lovely combination of three yellows donated to me by Bill and Lisa. I’ve discovered how effective and non-toxic vinegar and baking soda are at cleaning. I realize that thinking about every action that I take and the way that I take it slows me down, makes me think, breathe, consider, be grateful, be careful, be sweet, be gentle. Also, be funny. Check out this Brazilian video about how peeing in the shower saves water:

The third even MORE surprising outcome is how this journey to low impact is helping me redefine was feminism is and what it should be. There was an era of my life – one friend calls calls it My Life As a Man – when I thought the key to being powerful as a woman was to act like those whom I perceived as having power – namely white men. As a television director I was often the only woman in a crew – and I usually covered stories about “powerful” white men. I was clear I wasn’t going to be anyone’s mom, girlfriend, sister, whatever. So I intentionally didn’t ask questions of others, launched into my own stories without prompting, had little empathy for myself or anyone who might be lagging on the shoot and developed my own special form of misogyny toward women who weren’t strong, couldn’t give good directions, and couldn’t weave a really good tale. I finally had a wake up call after I decided that I, like most men around me, would not pick up my dishes after a meal at someone’s house. The problem was – all those really nice ladies who had prepared the meal were now having to pick up after me. Yuck. That was enough. I realized that this form of feminism was as destructive as the existing misogyny that wouldn’t let anyone – men or women – become whole. So if feminism isn’t female misogyny – what is it?


My low impact adventure helps answer this question because I am finding intense power and connection in these acts I find myself performing. These humble, simple commitments of service are opening a door to understanding that there is little in this world more powerful than collective and incremental action. I can’t save the planet. I can only begin to do my dishes differently and I am dependent on the wisdom and action of others for that one small act to become large. This is not the way those whom are considered powerful in our culture act. They expect others to clean up after them – while they single-handedly sweep-in with brilliant solutions. Hello BP. Feminism to me redefines what power is – appreciating, embracing the powerful smallness of women, men, old, young, quiet, gentle… you name it. You get it. All of it. All of our power.

Water. Wind. Soil. Air. As we seek to lessen our destructiveness on these powerful, vulnerable things – they become metaphors for so many others. Tell me your low impact tales. I’ll print them here.



Filed under A Story Doula Kind of Story, Pathways to Whole

8 responses to “Low Impact Adventures and What Those Have To Do With My Life As a Man

  1. Here’s the way I see it. Once you start down this path it just keeps going. It’s fun but there is always something out there pushing you to go on. Like Morpheus told Neo: “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” You start on this path and soon you start seeing how deep the rabbit-hole goes my friend. Not trying to sound ominous, like I said, it’s fun (and crazy and challenging and…)

    • Sooo true – it puts in place a lens that begins to focus on every aspect of life. I said to Howard the other day, “I’m just talkin’ myself right outta the money, aren’t I?” He just nodded in that Howard way. Somehow that feels totally okay.

  2. This comment on my facebook page from Than Dang – H-burg Public Works Planner – I love all of the practical stuff!! It gives me energy.

    Thanks for the post. I enjoyed reading it and can relate.

    Anyway, I learned a few tips from reading your post, here are a few tips I’d like to share with you (and others reading). 🙂

    – A follow up to your vinegar and baking soda to clean. Clogged drain? Or better yet, to prevent clogged drains… put about 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, follow with 1/2 cup white vingear. Let sit 30 mins and then follow with boiling water. Its awesome.

    – Our Community Place sells laundry detergent that is made from natural soap, borax and washing soda. Its $5 for a large coffee container full, and you use 2 tbsps per load, and it lasts a long time.

    – Great book. – “The Organic Suburbanite: An Environmentally Friendly Way to Live The American Dream” by Warren Schultz (from amazon review: Schultz breaks down indoor and outdoor suburban living into manageable arenas for environmentally responsible practice. Ever wondered how to clean your stove, unclog drains, discourage pests, care for your car, disinfect counter tops or bleach clothes in ways that won’t damage your health or your environment? Schultz addresses it all. His matter-of-fact approach eschews ideological discourse and gets down to brass tacks (or their recyclable, eco-friendly counterpart).”) If you would like to borrow my copy, let me know!

    – This isn’t just a plug for my job, but is something I really do think is great. Great thing to do and great price. The City and County are hosting a rain barrel and compst bin sale. More info at http://www.cleanstream.org, click on the link to the right of the page.

  3. Vegetables supplementing flowers in what tiny amount of soil we have. Cucumber vines are pretty, too; and pretty tasty!

    And…(nod to Robb)…running barefoot! 🙂

  4. Michaela

    I treasured the beginnings of this conversation in Maine – so glad to see it articulated, with such depth and meaning, here. Helping me pronounce the words I’d also like to say! Thanks, lady.

    • Thank YOU Michaela. The steps are tiny and the journey so long. But our little planet is in peril and we just need to get over ourselves. It sure helps to have friends involved in the process!!! Thanks for taking a look.


  5. Pingback: The Ghiradelli Eco-Debacle and What That Has to do with Annabelle’s Birthday « Story Doula

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