Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Eco-Extremity of 'No Impact Man'

I have to admit, I've been somewhat skeptical about No Impact Man: the movie, the book, the blog, the hefty no-impact apparatus. Maybe it's the hype about the Prada-loving wife. Maybe it's apprehension about people who seem too eco-aggressive (while their egos are clearly high impact). Nonetheless, I'm curious. So I helped arrange a special screening next Sunday, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater here in Bloomington, Indiana.

I haven't yet seen the movie, but it has gotten a good bit of attention, with more screenings this month around Earth Day. Lower impact lifestyles are all the rage right now – but what does it feel like to really adopt one? Are they sensible, or simply sensationalist?

Whether you are eco-conscious or just eco-anxious (or in a state of eco-denial) you might also be curious about Colin Beavan, a self-described “liberal schlub who got tired of listening to himself complain about the world without ever actually doing anything about it.”

Several years ago, in November, 2006, Beavan began a year-long “No Impact Project” in which he, his wife Michelle Conlin, and his then two-year-old daughter (and their four-year-old dog) went off the grid, attempting to live in the middle of New York City with as little environmental impact as possible.

No Impact Man tells the story of that year: its challenges, humorous moments, and the difficult choices demanded by a lower impact lifestyle. The rules of the game were: no more electricity, no more automated transportation, no more non-local food, no more conspicuous consumption. (There’s even something in there about toilet paper.) Begging the question: can you do this kind of thing without driving yourself or your family crazy?

The goal was to attract broad public attention to a range of pressing environmental issues – food system sustainability, climate change, water scarcity, and materials and energy resource depletion. 

If you’ve ever wondered how far your should stretch your own lower-impact efforts (or rolled your eyes when a relative or friend suggested using a solar oven instead of the gas grill), you might enjoy this vicarious plunge into eco-extremity.

No trash, no toxins in the water, no elevators, no subway, no product packaging, no air-conditioning, no television...the list goes on. You can learn more about how the family is living today at Beavan’s blog. And if you live in or near Bloomington, please join me on Sunday April 11 at the BCT! (Special pricing for members of Bloomingfoods.)


Daughter Number Three said...

I assume you'll give us your assessment after you see it on Sunday?

elena said...

Yes..but I'm nervous. Electronics to coordinate, a car to drive – so many footprints involved in screening a film!