No Impact Man

In this blog, I probably come across as a person who is pretty concerned with the environment and climate change (see posts on environment by clicking “environment” tag on the side bar), but the reality is that relative to a lot of people I know (especially in my Master’s program), I’m not.

Yes, I care about the environment and climate change.  I turn off the lights.  I don’t eat meat.  I recycle.  I use reusable grocery bags, but the environment isn’t necessarily on the top of my agenda.  I try to do my part, but I wouldn’t call my myself an environmentalist.  I care about people, and people and the environment are undoubtedly connected.

This morning I woke up and opened a Netflix that had been sitting on the table for about a week, as I’ve been too busy to even open them to see what was in it.  It was the documentary No Impact Man.

In case you haven’t heard of it, No Impact Man is a documentary that follows a NYC family in their quest to live 1 year with no net environmental impact.  This means giving up all motorized transportation (including elevators), no electricity, no television, eating only locally, buying nothing, creating essentially no waste.

When I first heard of this documentary, I thought it sounded slightly ridiculous so I was interested in seeing it.  I often accuse extreme environmentalists of making the problem worse by alienating the masses and scaring people into thinking that the only way to reduce carbon emissions is by cutting everything out of your life… much like the family in this film did.

However, after watching it, this documentary and the family is much different than I expected.  They aren’t preachy; they don’t expect the world to live they way they did for an entire year, nor do they plan on doing so for more than a year.  I guess what I liked most was Colin Beavan’s point that it’s not about depriving yourself but rather finding ways to get what you need without harming the Earth.

Obviously, the family’s experiment was a bit extreme, but I enjoyed watching their lifestyle change.

I won’t bore you any more with my take on the film but I recommend it for a few reasons:

  • It was entertaining.
  • It makes you think about a lot of aspects of your life that you don’t always think about (i.e. toilet paper).
  • It sheds light upon the fact that cities can be sustainable and environmentally friendly. (I won’t get into this but since I’m in City Planning, you can probably imagine I have a ton to say about this.)
  • A large aspect of the lifestyle change revolved around food consumption, production and acquisition, which may be of interest to you all.

Have you seen or heard of No Impact Man?  Would you consider yourself an environmentalist?

I’m sort of at a loss for what to do the rest of the day.  I’m thinking I might go to a spinning class in about an hour but other than that, they day is free!  Kind of weird!

Happy Saturday!  Enjoy your day!