Some background: I am 43 years old. Michelle is 39. Both of us are writers (you can read a little synopsis of my professional life here). We’ve been married four years, and the 2-year-old Isabella is our only child. Our four-year-old dog, Frankie, who was saved from a kill shelter in North Carolina when she was a tiny puppy, is a mix of some sort of hound and border collie.
en legs and a tail, I like to call our family. Michelle agitates constantly to make it twelve legs. Only this morning, Michelle made up a baby song for Isabella that went something like “my last egg is dying but my husband doesn’t care…” Unfortunately for me, Isabella took to the tune and danced around the living room in the style of an Oompa Loompa.
We live, the four of us, in a 750-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment, which is one of the reasons I resist the extra set of legs. Members of Michelle’s family refer to it alternatively as “the hovel” or “the grotto.” Michelle calls it “the Nanoplex.” Whatever you call it, it does at least benefit from being in a lower Fifth Avenue building with doormen and elevator operators and a marble-floored lobby.
When No Impact Man began, this high-class hovel, as far as I could tell, contained only one luxury item whose use—manufacture and delivery not withstanding—did not result in clouds of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere. That item is a Room and Board ultra-plush, encased coil, king-sized bed which is too large for the bedroom. It causes a lot of bruised shins, but we need it to accommodate the family get-togethers we have every
morning, roughhousing with Frankie, making the sheets itchy with breakfast crumbs and teaching Isabella to say “you’re crazy” and “Elmo sucks.”
Some of our best times are had in that bed—no nudges or winks intended. A baby crib two feet away doesn’t make for many nudges. Or winks. Perhaps it is for lack of “natural” entertainment that we used to have so many gadgets in the apartment to keep ourselves occupied. And all of these other luxury items, besides the bed, were carbon-producing.
They included a 52-inch television, which was admittedly too big for the living room, the TiVo box, which luckily was quite small, a computer or two, the cable box, two aforementioned air-conditioners, and an old dishwasher that makes so much noise that it scares Frankie into hiding in the bathtub. Household appliances, by the way, from microwave ovens to televisions, account for the production of 15 percent of each consumer’s greenhouse gas emission in the United States.
Come to think, a nationwide increase in “natural” entertainment might help save the world by reducing the demand for greenhouse-gas-producing distractions. At least, anyway, I plan to continue pitching “natural” entertainment to Michelle to replace the luxuries during throughout our no-impact year.