No Impact Man - Could You Live Without Hurting the Environment?
I just watched a fascinating movie about a man named Colin Beavan aka the No Impact Man. Beavan was tired of just talking about the changes that needed to be made to quit hurting the planet and help sustain the world. So he opted to do something about them. Beavan, his wife, and his daughter lived for a year in their New York City apartment making as little impact on the environment as they could.
Can you even fathom what that means for a family to not hurt the environment? Have you thought recently about how your everyday actions impact the world? Here is a brief list of the things they opted to do without in order to succeed in making no impact on the environment.
- restaurant food
- takeout food
- new clothes
- new anything really (other than food)
- environmentally hazardous cleaning supplies and toiletries
- disposable diapers
- newspapers and magazines
- toilet paper
- anything at all that was disposable
Could you live without those things? Honestly, some I could and some I couldn't. I could do without eating out, elevators, disposable diapers, newspapers and magazines, and cleaning supplies. The rest of the stuff I need in my daily life. How about you?
The movie No Impact Man showed exactly how this small family lived for the year. They implemented the project in phases. For instance when they ran out of toilet paper, they didn't buy more. At the six month mark they flipped the switch on electricity. They did later get a solar panel to power the essentials such as a computer to document his work and the stove to cook their food.
I think it helps that they live in NYC because locally grown food is so readily available. They shopped at farmer's markets daily and ate only things grown within 250 miles of their home. They climbed nine flights of stairs to get to their apartment and Beavan's wife rode a scooter to work. Later they were given bicycles (one with a seat in back for their daughter) to get around the city with. Those were their only forms of transportation. Only what they could power themselves.
The No Impact Man family made all their own cleaning supplies and toiletry items, washed their clothing in the bathtub, and diapered their daughter with cloth diapers rather than disposable. Did you know that every single day 49 million disposable diapers go into landfills around the world? How long do you think it will take for those to break down?
They ate by candlelight simple home cooked meals made from fresh vegetables and fruits. It sounds almost quaint! Did you know that worldwide raising meat for food consumption produces more carbon emissions than all forms of transportation combined? That fact caused them to eat vegetarian for the year. They had a worm composting system in their apartment to recycle food scraps into earth.
Believe it or not, Beavan took a lot of criticism for attempting to live this way. Many people thought he was out to make money (the project was for a book he was writing, although something he was keenly interested in prior to the project). People thought his family was dirty and gross. What people don't realize is that special cleaning supplies and toilet paper have only been around for the past century or so. Cloth rags were used for thousands of years just fine. Homemade cleaners do just as good a job as chemical cleaners - without harming the environment. I have a feeling that Beavan's family is healthier than they have ever been before.
I particularly liked the footage of his wife and her struggles with embracing this way of life. It was also interesting to see in the end what things they would bring back. They did turn the electricity back on and I know Beavan's wife was looking forward to having a refrigerator again as well as a washing machine. As far as I know they did not bring back the television and they still use their own power to travel places.
If you have wondered what you could do differently to help the environment and live a greener, cleaner life, the movie No Impact Man is for you. This movie encouraged my husband and me on our journey to live without hurting the environment. We came away with new ideas, new reasons for living this way and new opinions about ways things could change. As Colin Beavan has shown in this movie, one person really can make a difference.