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No Impact November


This year we have a whole month of fun. As part of our annual Household Action Challenge, we are taking on a 'No Impact November 2010', and invite you and your household or community to be a part.

No Impact November is a collaborative community experiment to explore alternatives way of living with an emphasis on consuming less, sharing more and moving to a life with less oil dependency. Our goal is to reduce our impact and reconnect with ourselves, our families and friends, our communities and the land.

The specific week of the challenge will be from Thursday 11th to Thursday 18th November, however the whole month is one where an individual or household can take on different degrees and different aspects of challenge throughout the month.

Individuals or households will take on one or more components to make up the week challenge. Some ideas are below. Other ideas from 'No Impact Man' doco at

If you're interested in being part of No Impact November, please contact me.

Key Principles / Key Dates / Initial Meeting / Choose Your Challenge/s / People's challenges


Key principles (of the Household Action Challenge)

  1. A Trial - It is an experiment for 1 week, so its not going to kill anyone if we don't make it or do fall short in some way, yet at the same time given that it is only a week, we should 'go hard' and see what we can achieve.
  2. Doing it together – Many people have tried this as an individual or household. It is quite a bit of hard work but all becomes easier when treated as a community exercise where we share discoveries together, work together, and are challenged together. We are supporting one another in learning good ways of living.
  3. Preparation – Necessary if we are going to know our present impact is and not get unexpected suprises. This will include a pre-challenge audit, and systematic seeking of alternatives.
  4. Sharing - In passing on our discoveries in a useful way, we decided to be ruthlessly transparent about our successes and struggles, and document these where possible.

The Process broadly involves:

  1. deciding what area you'll focus on
  2. a self-audit or inventory - asking what you presently do
  3. setting your goals for the challenge
  4. exploring together possible means of reduction/alternatives/change
  5. preparation leading up to the trial week
  6. reflection and comment on the experience after and/or during the week

Overview / Key Principles / Key Dates / Initial Meeting / Choose Your Challenge/s


Initial meeting - Thursday October 14th

We had a great turn up for the initial meeting. Neesh, Shaun, Kate, Jason, Elizabeth, Edwina, Nikki, Rachel, Mara, Jonathon, Jo & her friend, came along. Some great tucker including hommus, homemade Fennel Soup, Spicy Pumpkin soup, and fried cheesy balls kicked the evening off. Lively discussion complimented our munching as we threw around ideas as to what we'd take on as our challenges for the No impact November week. Ideas included:

  • Not shopping at the big two supermarkets. Some people choosing local independants. For others, the Queen Victoria market, but choosing to have a converssation with sellers of produce to find out more about the produce.
  • Buying in bulk. Sourcing large 25kg bags of flours, rice, etc.
  • Alternatives to hair care. Looking for commercial items that avoid animal testing or petro chemicals, or going the next step and making your own. Rachel and Jonathon both raved about 'nut soap', a great natural alternative to soap and detergent.
  • .... and for the slightly more die-hard amongst us - investigating composting toilet options, and alternatives to disposables (including toilet paper).

I've put up what some people are thinking about taking on here, and below outlined the challenge that my household has decided to take on for the week, as an example of the process (and in case you're interested).

If you would like to join in on the week's challenge, and come along to the Preparatory meeting on the 4th, you'll need to have thought about:

  • what is the focus area of the challenge you're interested in (example: reduce waste; avoiding supermarkets, reducing car use)
  • what are you present actions, patterns, behaviours. What do you presently do in this area? (example:. inventory rubbish, where do you shop now; when do you use the car and for what)
  • what are your some specific goals (example: have no non-recylable waste; shop at independent supermarkets; not use the car for trips less than 3kms).

And possibly..

  • brainstorm some strategies that you'll put in to place in the week of the challenge. We'll help to brainstorm these during the meeting on the 4th too.

Overview / Key Principles / Key Dates / Initial Meeting / Choose Your Challenge/s

Key dates

  • Thursday October 14th – Initial meeting. See discussion points and minutes.
  • Thursday November 4th Preparation meeting. Inventory and goals (and shared meal). We will discuss:
    • What do we normally eat/buy/consume/travel, etc?
    • What are our specific personal or household goals for the challenge?
    • How will we prepare? What resources do we already have? What do we need to discover?
    • Preparation for Communal meal on 11th.
  • Thursday November 11th – No Impact week Communal dinner to mark the start of No Impact week. This is also our regular Meal & Movie night - screening a selection of short exerts relating to the challenge.
  • Wednesday 17th (or Thursday 18th) – End of No Impact week Celebration meal.
    • We will discuss outcomes and learnings.


  • Saturday November 27th International Buy Nothing Day - Throughout the day we intend to do some cool and fun 'anti-consumerism' stunts and of course share yet another meal together. See website for ideas. Come along ... if you dare!

Overview / Key Principles / Key Dates / Initial Meeting / Choose Your Challenge/s


Choose your challenge/s

Living beyond:

  • Car - no car use for a week
  • Power - no electricity for a week
  • Fridge - no refrigerator for a week
  • Food miles - no food beyond 100 mile food radius for a week
  • Spending - no purchasing for a week
  • Waste - no rubbish for a week
  • Technology - no screen time, gadgets, electronic communication for a week
  • Inequality - no water from the tap (or limit to global average) for a week
  • Processed foods - no processed products - avoiding Cargill, agribusiness, the whole machinery, for a week

This list is just our brainstorm. You may have other ideas you'd like to explore.

See what people have decided on here.


Overview / Key Principles / Key Dates / Initial Meeting / Choose Your Challenge/s

People's Challenges


Overview / Key Principles / Key Dates / Initial Meeting / Choose Your Challenge/s

Neesh & Shaun's Burns St Goals

Here is a list of things I would love to attempt - depends on support for some!


  • Make soy milk
  • Make damper bread
  • Australia only dry goods
  • Victorian only fresh produce
  • No packaging to enter house! (except mail envelopes…)


  • Wash clothes for #1’s
  • Borrow electric fry pan/wok (solar versus gas)
  • Wash with bucket of hot water - water heated from kettle (solar versus gas)


  • Ride everywhere (no sneaky car trips for shaun)
  • Emergency only purchases
  • More games and discussion, less internet time
  • Slow down




I've had a think about the stuff I do in my household. Most of my household activities center around food and most of my rubbish is packaging and takeaway containers. For the next week, I thought of the following things:

  • no shopping at supermarkets: greengrocers and markets only
  • no shopping for the week
  • no takeaway food
  • no processed food
  • reduce my meat intake to one meal a day, and only have chicken or fish
  • consume only Victorian produce
  • use herbs from my garden as much as possible
  • no tv and only use public transport


Nick,& Janet's Challenge

Here's the challenge that we've decided to take on, which serves as a good example of the process. Our household is actually Nick, Janet and Talitha whose 5 yrs old and Charlie whose 2. Our challenge is three-fold, and these three parts work together.

1. Food Essentials. My own personal challenge is to bake sourdough bread. We had been buying Edwards sourdough bread from the local Footscray Deli – byo bag and so no packaging. However recently the bakery burned down and so we're back to supermaket purchases with plastic bread bags. So this is an opportunity to learn a new skill and by-pass the middle men.

Strategies: visit neighbour Dom and request lesson; get sourdough starter from either Dom or someone else; experiement in week leading up to challenge week.

2. Power use. I was quite moved at our recent screening of the 'end of suburbia' – a movie about peak oil. I know in theory the significance of oil as the foundation to all that we do but like most of us haven't really grasped how we'd get along if it was no longer available.

Oil is truly amazing stuff. Here's some stats that got me thinking.

  • It's in fact 'liquid sunshine'. One gallon (4.5 litres) of oil contains the equivilant of about 98 tonnes of original algae, distilled over 100 million years.
  • The amount of energy needed to maintain the average US citizen (or Australian citizen) is equivilent to 50 people on bicycles peddling furiously in our backyards all day and all night.

So what would we do if we didn't have access to these 'energy slaves'? It's a big question. So to make a meaningful and managable task for the challenge week, I looked up global electricity consumption per capita. Australia is 11th highest at 1244 kilowatts per person per day. The global average is 364. That's about a third. (source: The World Factbook via wikipedia ).

So our goal for the week regarding power use is to cut our consumption by a third. There's a mind map below which is my brainstorm on where we use 'fossil-fuel' derived power and some ways to reduce this for the week. It's worth noting that the focus will be on behaviour change rather than technology or gadgets. Doing things differently, such as going to bed at dusk and getting up at dawn, thereby not needing the lighting that we're used to. This is quite radical in itself and will test us in all sorts of ways.

Strategies: plan our time - what we presently do after dark needs to be done beforehand; inventory power bills; inventory where we use the most power; brainstorm strategys (see below for some of these).

3. Car use. Goes along with the point above. We use the car infrequently but this is a chance to not use it at all for a week.

Strategies: inventory when we use the car; plan alternatives.


Mind Map on Energy use and strategies - click to enlarge




Overview / Key Principles / Key Dates / Initial Meeting / Choose Your Challenge/s