I just read an incredible article in Business Week, about a couple who decided in 2006 to spend a year living in the middle of New York City without making any negative environmental impact. They lived on the ninth floor in their one bedroom apartment with a todler and used no electricity, no transportation, no coffee, no cell phone and made no purchases of anything other than locally grown food. They continued this experiment for a year. The result? They cut their expenses in half, and were able to experience a slower more peaceful life. Fascinating.
I am reminded a bit about the Compact in San Francisco, a group of friends who decided, three or four years ago to forgo consumerism and not buy anything new for a year. If I recall, they could buy used things and swap, and could buy new things like toothbrushes, underwear, etc. I am sure that they realized huge reductions in their environmental impact at the the time. Look for a book by No Impact Man, and a movie. It certainly changes the way we think about living our lives and living in our homes. (and perhaps not so good for the recovery of our economy, which is so dependent upon consumerism. Hmmm.)