No Impact Man

I’ve been following the Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man blog for quite some time now and for Christmas, I asked for and received his book. A few days ago I finished reading it, and so did Joanie.

If you’re not aware, Colin and his family tried to live for a year without making any net impact on the earth. This meant eliminating garbage, carbon-producing transportation, eating sustainably, and even, eventually, turning off the heat and power in his apartment, and eliminating toilet paper. He was all over the news for a while, and there was even a Law & Order episode with a character based on his experiment, (you know you’ve made it big when you become a Law & Order episode). In the process he discovered that eliminating most of these things lead to a fuller, happer, and healthier life, but he also discovered the things that actually reduced his quality of life when he gave them up.

One of the things that he discovered, and that I’ve been thinking about a lot, is that we live in a disposable society, and it’s extremely difficult to make no trash. On top of that, a lot, probably most, of the trash that we do make is not stuff that breaks down quickly in a landfill. It’s largely plastic and other chemical-based materials like styrofoam. If I take a quick look around me right now, sitting in my office, I see some Cold-FX pills, (I’m starting to come down with something), in a blister pack, and that blister pack came in a cardboard box. I see a catalog that a company I ordered the parts to repair my external hard drive from mailed to the other day. There are three tubes of lip balm, (I use maybe 1 tube a year so some of these three will just go into the garbage unused). There is a container of dental floss, (plastic, will be thrown out when its empty). There’s a box of kleenex, (recycled, but still, they’re here), and a bunch of bills, note-paper, and so on. Here’s a small tangent: I signed up for electronic billing for my Visa card thinking that they would stop sending me a paper bill, but instead of eliminating the paper bill and reducing my Visa card’s environmental footprint, they now send me both, thereby increasing the my environmental footprint. I think you get the picture. It’s hard to make no trash.

However, that doesn’t mean we’re not going to try. What Colin discovered, and I think that the same thing may apply to me, is that by letting go of things that aren’t really needed you discover better things, like reconnecting with your community and your friends. So, we’re going to see if we can reduce our impact, and I’ll even document it, over on Choices that Matter.

During the Beavan family’s no impact year, there was also a documentary made about them. We rented it yesterday, (which reminds me that I have to take it back today), and while it doesn’t go into as much detail as the book does, it does really add another dimension to the no impact story. In the book we see Colin’s wife, Michelle, and how she makes a lot of changes, but we don’t realize how hard they are for her, (I think that Colin must have glossed over how hard it was for her, probably subconsciously). The movie really shows us her struggles at the beginning, and her happiness with the changes once they’ve become habits. Ironically, when we rented the movie yesterday, they couldn’t get the security device out of the case and had to rip the case apart, thereby producing trash.

The cover of the book No Impact man
Want to read it yourself? Get it from one of these places and I’ll receive a small kickback:

Amazon.com (US) Amazon.ca (Canada) Amazon.co.uk (UK)

In keeping with the spirit of the book, if you can borrow a copy of No Impact Man, from a friend, library, or wherever, that would be great. If you buy the book, please share it.

Want to read it yourself?

Get it from one of these places and I'll receive a small kickback:

In keeping with the spirit of the book, if you can borrow a copy of No Impact Man, from a friend, library, or wherever, that would be great. If you buy the book, please share it.

Whispers about No Impact Man:

  1. […] both recently read No Impact Man by Colin Beavan, and yesterday watched the documentary film of the same story. ¬†Something that […]

  2. […] this week we both finished reading Colin Beavan’s book No Impact Man, (I wrote my impressions on my more general blog), and are feeling inspired to keep eating healthily and reduce the harm we do to the earth. […]

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