Why "No Impact" Girl?

In case you're wondering "why the super-hero title?" (which is tongue-in-cheek, by the way), here's how No Impact Girl came to be. 

In short: it started as an experiment. I wanted to try to live with as little environmental impact as possible, in Sydney, for one month, in March-April 2011.


My inspiration came from watching the No Impact Man eco-documentary about an everyday guy (and writer) Colin Beavan who attempted to live for a year with no net environmental impact. In the heart of New York City. With his double-mochaccino-loving wife Michelle and their toddler daughter Isabella. 

They phased it in, focused on a different issue each month - waste, transport, food, consumerism, electricity - and ended the year happier and healthier than they had been when they started.

When I later read Colin’s book - No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process - I was inspired anew, by how much fun they had, and how much they connected with each other, as a family, with their wider community, and with the world around us all, through simple but powerful acts such as giving away their television and buying their food at the local growers’ markets

My curiosity pricked up its ears. What would it be like to go "no impact", and write about the process, as Colin did, but here in Australia, in Sydney, and for just a month. That's do-able, right? I’m a writer too, and yearning to live more simply and closer to the Earth. But much as I admire Colin’s dedication, he has a wife who brings home the (free-range) bacon. I still needed to earn a living, so I thought I'd start small. 

There are things I already did, of course, and there would always be other people doing more, but we all have to start where we are. For me it was here: I composted food scraps and had a worm farm, grew veggies (that died), recycled as if my life depended on it (which, really, it does), rode my bike more than I drove my car (though I did have a car, to get to the beach to surf), hardly ever shopped, used the “good” light bulbs, didn't eat meat, bought recycled (or wheat pulp) office paper, didn't commute (I worked from home). But I knew I could do more.

The first hurdle though, was that I was not just a writer, but a travel writer. Black mark number one. I offset all my flights, international and domestic, but offsetting doesn’t stop the pollution going into the atmosphere in the first place. 

And while I always try to minimise my impact when I travel – by, for instance, writing about hiking and kayaking and other nature-based, low-impact, even conservation experiences - . travelling itself presented another problem. I was never at home long enough to do anything meaningful in my community. So I pressed “pause” on the travel and stayed home for a whole month to dedicate myself to learning about how to reduce my eco-footprint. 

Epilogue (March 2014):

How did it go? In three words: incredible, challenging, fascinating. When the No Impact Project kicked off on 26 March, 2011, at Earth Hour (here's my first post: Week one, day one), I really had no idea what to expect, how it would go. A month later, I felt better informed, happier, healthier. Here are the top 10 things I learned by doing the No Impact project

Here's the No Impact Girl article I subsequently wrote for WellBeing magazine.

No Impact Girl is now a blog about all things eco, including travel experiences, and is still evolving and growing. 

Got suggestions? I'm always open to feedback and ideas, and can be reached at lousouth@hotmail.com 

Thanks for being part of the No Impact journey!