There’s this guy named Colin Beavan in New York City who’s kind of a hero to me. He was already cared a lot about the environment but he felt like he was all talk, so he challenged himself to see if he could live as environmentally as he possibly could. Basically he wanted to make no impact on the environment at all, even though he’s a human being: no automated transportation, no electricity, only locally grown food, and no more material consumption. He convinced his wife to try it for a whole year, and they even had a two-year-old daughter at the time. (They still have her, she’s just older now.) He blogged about it (more about that later), then wrote a book, and some other people made it into a documentary, all with the title NO IMPACT MAN. The book and the movie are about how hard it was, but also how amazing it was to “walk the walk.”
Parts of the experiment are not that impressive. Like, it’s not really that hard to ride a bike to work if you live close to your job, and it’s probably pretty easy to find a farmer’s market in New York City. But at home, they use the stairs instead of the elevator, and they live on the 9th floor of their apartment building. And it’s not that hard to live without TV, but they have no electricity at all. They don’t even use toilet paper. (I guess they didn’t count the electricity that the film crew used, but technically that was other people.) But somebody donated a solar panel, and that’s how he was able to blog during the year on the laptop he already owned.
Michelle, Colin’s wife, is the one most people probably identify with in the movie, because she’s super annoyed and irritated by going without all her little conveniences that she takes for granted. She loves to shop and drink espressos – basically a typical “yuppie” (what’s up 1980s!). But she still did it. I kinda wish the title was NO IMPACT FAMILY, though, to give everybody credit, not just him. Also, they’re white and well-educated, which doesn’t really help the reputation of environmental activism as only for elite people. But it’s still completely worth checking out, even if he does come across a little bit preachy and bossy at first. They turn it into a family adventure.
Part of me wonders what people who were alive before cars and electricity would say about it. They’d probably be like, “So what? We chop our own wood and haul our own water and we live out in the wilderness and have to protect ourselves from bears and wolves all the time.” But we all live now, when it’s so easy to use and consume and live a life never thinking about what we take from future generations.
I shouldn’t really call him a hero though, because a lot of times when people label somebody else a hero, it’s like “Oh, it’s so great that you did that,” and they’re inspired for like five minutes and then forget all about it. It’s sort of like they use that person’s accomplishments to feel good, without doing anything themselves, which they could totally do if they put their minds to it.
On Colin’s website, he created an online project kit for people so you can try it for a week yourself, and all these college students are doing it to assess and reduce their carbon footprint. I tried to get my mom and dad to do the experiment at home and they were all “NO WAY.” They were nice about it, but it made me really mad. I’m going to keep on them about it until I get my way, mwahahaha. Maybe they’ll do it during the summer. Thousands and thousands of people have tried it. Will you?
Have you seen it? What did you think?