Tuesday, June 29, 2010

No Impact Man

The discussion of Joseph Knowles on Monday made me think of the year that Colin Beavan spent gradually trying to eliminate his environmental impact by giving up what many people view as necessities and conveniences of modern life. Although he didn't forgo clothing and return to the wilderness, he did make drastic lifestyle changes as the year progressed in order to have a non-existent carbon footprint while living in New York City with his wife and young daughter. Perhaps his journey can be viewed as a more modern form of primitivism?

He gives a detailed account of the year in his book, No Impact Man, but his blog contains many of the steps that he took (some that are easy for most people to implement in their own lives, others not so much), as well as other interesting information on current environmental issues. Every few months he organizes a "No Impact Week," where people can try to implement his year long program over the course of a week.


Jennifer said...

Yeah, but does he drive a Greasecar?? ; ). Actually, is there a certain level of "civilization" that allows him to live this way? What was he willing to give up, and what was he not willing to give up? Would any of us be happy with the trade-offs?

Emily said...

I would say the only civilization he experiences is through continuing to live in the city. I would suppose to that access to running water is a big thing.

He gives up any transport that isn't self propelled, any food not grown in, I believe, a 250 mile radius (purchased at the farmer's market), does not buy anything new, does not produce any trash, and eventually gives up even electricity (this was of course the hardest step and the one that they didn't stick with). As I remember, they gave up a lot of items in the beginning (beauty products, tv, etc).

I found that many of the steps were not things that should be hard for general society to implement; however, each step does require a certain degree of loss. In Beavan's eyes this loss seems worthwhile for the benefits that at least he experienced, mostly prominently a more satisfied and happy life once cleansed of so much "stuff."