|"Can you save the planet without |
driving your family crazy?"
A strong critic—and there are certainly many out there—might slight Colin simply for living in New York City. However, the fact that he conducted the experiement in NYC made it entirely possible. Access to healthy food is a heavy variable for anyone to impact his or her waste. (This is not to say that the same experiment could not work in Cincinnati, but it may be entirely impossible in a suburban community.) Colin and his wife Michelle regularly visited farmer’s markets, and eventually connected well enough with one to spend their vacation at the farm (using the plentiful commuter rail in the region). The couple got rid of their flat screen television and other frivolties. About halfway through the experiment, they cut the lights. All the while, they had a large network of associates and friends, trains and buses, which is a by-product (but not necessarily guaranteed in all cases) of living densely. That network was a helpful support system to keep their marriage and project intact. That network enabled Colin and the family to balance negative environmental impact with positive impacts, and to reach net zero.
An important piece to note is that Colin’s experiment was designed to work in stages. Stage one was to figure out how to create no garbage waste, including packaging and disposable products. The second stage was to create a smallest environmental impact with their food choices (which, for a short while, included using unsuccessful, primitive cooling techniques instead of living with a actual refrigerator). The third stages involved consumption of only necessary items, and learning how to do it sustainably.