There was a great documentary last year called "No Impact Man," about a New York family of three that attempted to live an entire year with the smallest-possible footprint on the environment. The parents and their 2-year-old daughter subsisted in their apartment without electricity, heat, a car and other staples of modern life — including toilet paper, which may explain why their experiment hasn't caught on nationwide.
I'm far from a No Impact Man myself. I'm typing this column on a computer that probably uses more energy every day than entire stretches of Rwanda. I drive to work, spin DVDs at home and have no compost pile in my kitchen. Still, I've made improvements. A few months ago, I vowed to reduce my plastic bag usage and now lug around a reusable IKEA bag when I go shopping.
Speaking of plastic, I've been a chronic offender when it comes to drinking water. Just a few yards from my cubicle is a water cooler teeming with cups, and I go through dozens in a typical month. And with Trader Joe's offering bottled water for slightly more than a quarter, it's all too easy to take advantage.