Thursday, October 22, 2009

No Impact Man - Colin Beavan

~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~

It is an unseasonably warm day in winter in New York City - it should be 30 degrees but it's 70. Colin Beavan has been thinking about the state of the world but " I didn't feel I could do anything about world problems. After all, if the government wasn't doing anything, what could I do?" But he suddenly realizes "that my problem might not actually be the state of the world. My problem was my inaction." "Is it true that a guy like me can't make a difference?"

And so No Impact Man is 'born'. His goal? "To find a way to encourage a society that emphasizes a little less self-indulgence and a little more kindness to one another and the planet." With his wife and young daughter he vows to live for a year creating and causing as little environmental impact as possible.

No Impact Man chronicles a year in which Beavan and his family forgo making any trash, eat only locally produced food, reducing their carbon footprint - no planes, trains or automobiles, not buying anything new and finally doing without electricity.

It's a fascinating look at what our lifestyles are doing, to both the planet and ourselves. Do we really need all that stuff? When the simpler things in life make us happy, why do we not pursue them more?

Beavan succeeded in reducing his impact, but also discovered the simple joys of family and friends all over again, without the distraction of television. Eating together, board games, books and spending time outside replaced hours spent in front of the television. " The rhythm of our lives is changing." " I cannot stop wondering, since life is so precious, whether we all share a tendency to waste our lives - and therefore out planetary resources - on things that just aren't important."

Although the book chronicles his experiences, it is backed up with tons of facts and figures to support his ideas - some of it quite eye opening. The appendix is especially packed with resources.

His experiment caught the eye of world media and ended up being a documentary film as well. Is he still at it? What concessions, if any, were made after the year was up? Well, you can check out his blog, find him on Twitter and on Facebook.

No Impact Man was published on "100% post-consumer recycled without chlorine and certified by both the Forest Stewardship council and EcoLogo. The cover boards are also made from 100% recycled and FSC-certified materials, the book is bound with cloth made of FSC-certified paper and the printer itself is FSC-certified.

Guaranteed to engender lots of thought! There's also a reading group guide.


Patti V. said...

This sounds like a great book. I'm definitely going to check out his blog.

avisannschild said...

This sounds super interesting. But how the heck did he manage to do without electricity? (He obviously doesn't live in Canada!)

Luanne said...

Avis- he lived on the 9th floor of an apartment building. There was enough heat in the building, that they were warm without using theirs. They got a solar panel hooked up on the roof and strung it down through a window. Used candles, shopped for their food for only one or two days at a time and set their bodies to their circadian rhythym and a couple of other experiments.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an interesting story, but not necessarily an experiment I'd like to copy.

bermudaonion said...

I think I saw something on TV about this experiment. It sounds fascinating, but I do love my electricity.

avisannschild said...

And I guess he didn't spend his days on the computer! (Thanks for answering my question.)