Thursday, November 05, 2009

Book Review: No Impact Man

No Impact Man (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) by Colin Beavan

I'm a sucker for any book that poses a year-long eco-challenge to itself (See my reviews for: Plenty, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Not Buying It (okay I meant to review this one, but it slipped through the cracks), A Year Without 'Made in China') but what makes Beavan's book unique, is that he combines all of the challenges posed by these other books and tries them all at once. While living in New York City. With a toddler. A grand undertaking indeed. Now I realize there are people out there thinking “what a presumptuous jerk! There are people who live like that every day, not because they want a challenge, but because they have to.” But the issue is that so many people do not want to consider live as he does—eating locally, not driving or taking mass transit, not using electricity (!!), (there was also some note about also not using toilet paper but it wasn't revealed how exactly they went about this). With the title of the book 'No Impact', it's pretty big boast, but on only page 22 he admits that having 'no impact' is actually impossible, but what you learn slowly is that he can lessen his impact so much that he can make up for what waste and destruction he does create with simple actions like picking up litter along the riverfront. He won me over by not only talking the talk but walking the walk. Shutting off the electricity? That's a pretty bold maneuver. Sure I've got the worm bin chewing up my scraps and I can make less than a plastic grocery bag full of trash a month, but this guy washed his own clothes in the bathtub and read by candlelight for months. And that's pretty cool. He's a minor celebrity now, with his blog and his documentary but I'm happy to support anyone who preaches the gospel of needing to simplify your life no matter where you live and finding creative solutions to do so.

Look, I like to consider myself a fairly environmentally sound person (in the grand scheme of things) but I also don't pretend that I'm something I'm not: we all have our vices and that's a great thing about simplicity-it's not about deprivation. It's about being conscious of your actions and not allowing those vices to get out of hand. I love In-n-Out Burger, and I don't want to imagine giving it up, so instead, I use it as a treat, a reward. I also try to keep learning about creating less waste and lowering consumption and staying mindful about my actions. I also am working on my strength as an activist, so that someday I'll convince those In-n-Out folks organic meat and vegetables are the way to go, or to recycle their paper waste, or to have non-plastic options for eat in service.

No comments: