Day 15 Update

I have one week left, and let me tell you, I cannot wait for this project to be over.  I am sick of washing my clothes by hand.  I bike by checker’s on the way to and from work, and despite the fact that I eat fast food incredibly rarely, I just want some french fries and a milkshake.  I feel like this project has taken over my life in the past 2 weeks.  I wake up early and bike to work, then when I get home (between 5:30 and 7) I cook dinner, eat, wash the clothes I wore, and at some point during these things, it gets dark out. So pretty much the only thing left to do is read by a lantern, which gets old pretty quickly. So I go to bed around 9:30 or 10 every night, wake up the next morning and repeat.

That being said, there are good days and bad days. Today for example, is a good day.  I got up early, ran, biked to the market, chatted with the farmers, came home and made a vegetable omelet with potatoes and a slice of bread.  During breakfast my mom and I played board games, and then I read for a while before biking to the library where I am now: the epitome of a lovely summer Saturday.  However, Thursday when I biked about 17 miles to go to work and buy food, and flipped off my bike when my tire missed the curb, was a bad day.  So yeah, I’m ready to be done. As it gets closer to the end of my 3 weeks, I’ll write a good bit on what worked and what didn’t, what I’ll keep and what I won’t, but that is all for now.

Total mileage: 227.5


  1. First of all, I just wanted to say that I admire your dedication to your project and that I hope that your final week is full of good days! I was wondering if the drastic changes in your lifestyle have caused any sort of feelings of isolation or disconnect from the rest of society. These days it seems as if everyone is constantly connected through cell phones or online social networks. Without access to these technologies do you feel behind the news in terms of receiving information or disconnected from friends without the usage of technology to communicate with them?

  2. I just read all of your posts because I think your project is so awesome! I envy your ability to stick to it; it’s a really great thing, although it sounds incredibly difficult. I wish living as you’ve been wouldn’t be so difficult in today’s world 🙁 When you’re finished with your project, do you think you will continue to practice any of the new ways you’ve been living? What things do you think the average person can do to shrink their carbon footprint while still living a life that they’re fairly used to?

  3. msteague says:

    Thanks! Well, I tried as much as possible to not alienate everyone I knew doing this project, I charged my phone with a solar panel (but it didn’t work super well so sometimes admittedly I used electricity) but it was hard. I found that even more than feeling isolated because of a lack of social networking, I struggled to find things to do with friends that didn’t go against the rules for the project. I couldn’t exactly say “Hi, want to come over and sit in my dark house without A/C or lights, so what if it’s 89 degree inside?” So I found myself not reaching out to people much because I didn’t have anything to really DO. Once, a friend and I wandered around the mall, just chatting, not buying anything which was fun. And another time a friend’s parent was having a party for co-workers, so I went to keep my friend company and we just sat on the porch and talked. (There was all kinds of good food though, and it was torture not getting to eat any!) Since part of the project was to live this way without alienating others and isolating myself, I did check facebook occasionally, maybe once or twice a week when I was on the computer blogging at the public library, but it still was a little lonely for the three weeks.

  4. msteague says:

    Thanks, yeah it was pretty rough. I definitely plan to continue many of the things I’m doing, and I think the average person could fairly easily, as well. A lot of the simpler things I already did before the project–I biked to work pretty frequently and we went to the farmer’s market almost every weekend. But doing the project I discovered a lot of other things that are easier than you’d think once you get used to them. For example, cold showers really are not that bad. Neither is minimizing your light usage. I used a solar lamp when it was dark during the project, and while I couldn’t really do more than read with it because it was kind of dim, now when I turn on a light in a room it seems really overly-bright and I turn on just a lamp instead. And I have a window in the bathroom, so when I’m brushing my teeth or taking a shower I don’t even bother turning the light on now because I realize that it isn’t actually necessary. Also, the A/C wasn’t terrible. Ok that’s a lie, when it was 89 in the house it was rough. BUT, if I had used a fan, I think it would have been really manageable. My parents agree big time with this, and my mom has mentioned that even when I’m gone, she still rarely turns on the A/C and is just fine using a fan instead. It’s all about adjusting.

    But I think the single thing people can do to have the biggest impact is to change the way we eat. I’m a big proponent of biking instead of using a car, but think about it: supposedly riding in a plane is the equivalent of driving your car for a year (or so I’ve read), so every time something you eat is shipped from a foreign country on a plane, it is an enormous use of fossil fuel and almost makes biking instead of driving a car, or driving a hybrid irrelevant. So it terms of having a big impact on minimizing your carbon footprint, I think that eating smart is the way to go. I’m lucky that where I live has several farmer’s markets and 2 local grocery stores, and I don’t know if that is the case everywhere. But I think that they are the greatest thing. Even if you don’t eat entirely locally and organic (I’m certainly not going to) all of the time, I think that incorporating that into your diet can make a big difference. Why buy tomatoes from another continent when they’re grown in my county. Why buy romaine from god knows where when Farmer John (no really, I buy greens from a man named Farmer John) sells delicious organic kale for an awesome price? Or the guy I buy eggs from re-uses his containers, so I get yummy, cage-free, hormone-free eggs and then can take back the carton next time, so nothing is thrown away in the process. There are a million little ways to make a difference in your impact when it comes to the way you eat, and I think the biggest thing is just taking the initiative and trying to mix it up a little. While no one (or at least not me) can eat 100% locally all the time, I think people would be suprised at how easy it is to get into the habit of farmer’s markets and eating fresh.