Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Conscious Shopper Challenge: Observe an Eco-Sabbath

The past few weeks of The Conscious Shopper Challenge have focused on developing an attitude of non-consumption. Here's the final challenge in this series:


Image by Ctd 2005

The idea for the eco-sabbath comes from Colin Beavan of No Impact Man, who writes:

For one day or afternoon or even hour a week, don't buy anything, don't use any machines, don't switch on anything electric, don't cook, don't answer your phone, and, in general, don't use any resources. In other words, for this regular period, give yourself and the planet a break. Keep your regular eco-sabbath for a month. You'll find that the enforced downtime represents an improvement to your life.

You can apply this concept to your own life as simply or as complex as you like - the point is really to increase your mindfulness of your impact on the earth. Here are a few ways to get you started.


  • Declare one day a week a No Buying Day. Make your own fun without spending any money.


  • Declare one day a week a No Driving Day. Have fun at home, or walk or bike to your destination.
  • Have an Eco-Sabbath At-Home Date Night. Have dinner by candlelight, enjoy conversation instead of television, and retire to bed early for some special fun with that special someone.


  • Take it to the full extreme. For one whole day a week, "don't buy anything, don't use any machines, don't switch on anything electric, don't cook, don't answer your phone, and, in general, don't use any resources."

Although I think it's a cool idea, it's impractical for my family to have one whole day set aside as an Eco-Sabbath, so we modify the concept to fit our needs:

  • Sunday is our No Buying Day.
  • As a stay-at-home-mom, I could easily schedule our days so we're constantly on the go, but to save gas (and my sanity), I specifically set aside a few mornings a week where we don't go anywhere. This year, it's Mondays (my Big Jobs Day), Tuesdays, and Thursdays.
  • Especially during the summer, I try to turn on the oven only once a week. I plan ahead so I can get all my baking done in one day, and I choose meals that don't require the oven.

I really like the idea of an Eco-Sabbath Date Night and might try talking my husband into trying that one.

Have you tried an eco-sabbath? How does it work for you?


Sense of Home said...

A very good idea. I do well with the no buying part of the challenge, most days I don't buy anything or eat out. However, I do use electricity everyday and though I rode my bike to work this summer, as winter comes I will be driving the car again.

I try to remember that even small things add up. Unplugging, turning off, keeping the heat down in winter, air-conditioning off in summer. If I keep it practical it is something I will continue to do, making a bigger impact overall.


Green Bean said...

It's a good reminder. I had tried doing no driving days and that would occasionally work. I've never tried a no buying day. That should be easy! :)


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