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!

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10 thoughts on “No Impact Man

  1. Jessica@Healthy Exposures says:

    Sounds like an interesting watch – glad you posted about this because I’m pretty much a recluse when it comes to movie watching, haha. I feel like I haven’t seen or even heard of all the movies people rave about!

    I wouldn’t consider myself an environmentalist – but like you, I do care about the environment and obviously if there’s something I can do to contribute to a better place to live (recycle, reusable bags, picking up trash, unplugging things not in use, shutting off lights) I do it. Granted, these are all simple things, but when you think of how many people don’t do this or even think to, it’s pretty sad! I feel like if we could ALL just do that extra little “something” on a daily basis, rather than some people depriving themselves while others couldn’t care less, we would come a long way.

    I’ll have to look into the movie, for sure! I like documentaries like that – and LOVED morgan spurlock’s 30 days series. It dealt more with Social problems, but they’re very interesting, to me at least 🙂 Anyways – Have fun at spinning, if you go!

  2. Erin says:

    I remember reading about this blog last year or so and thinking it was an interesting concept. Definitely will look out for the movie!

    I do what I can to help the environment: turning off lights, using reusable bags at the grocery store, recycling. Like Jessica said above, it amazing how many people just DON’T make the tiny bit of extra effort. Like is it REALLY any more difficult to put cans and glass in a separate container than trash? Really?!

  3. Erica @ Fashion meets Food says:

    Oh my gosh I saw that movie and it was crazy interesting!!! I think I am horrible when it comes helping the environment. I constantly have lights on, spend too long in the shower, use hair spray from the 80’s lol I think I need to make some changes!

  4. plamarie says:

    I have not seen it. It sounds extremely hard. We take so much for granted! I try to be more environmentally friendly. Some things I admit, I am so dependent on. I will add it to my Netflix though.

  5. kilax says:

    I am happy you wrote this, because that sounds like something my husband and I would really like to watch!

    One of the interesting points that Jonathan Safran Foer makes in his book Eating Animals is that any effort toward eating less meat, makes a change. He keeps saying (said once in the book, but in EVERY interview I listened to AND when I saw him) that you wouldn’t say that you’re either an environmentalist or not, almost everyone is one! Everyone is just participating at a different level. I am not explaining it well, but we are at your level. We recycle, use public transit, reuse bags, etc.

  6. Nicole says:

    I haven’t even heard of that documentary, but now I certainly want to see it! I would not (sadly) consider myself an environmentalist. At all. Tulsa makes it SO hard to be kind to the earth — they don’t even RECYCLE! I find that sad. If everyoe would/could do their part, I really feel it would help.

  7. Lauren says:

    OOh, we will put this on our Netflix queue. This post made me think of the book on my nightstand: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I am about 100 pages into it; great read! About a family of 4 who moves from barren Arizona to a farm in the Appalacians and decides to live off the land.

    Lauren

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