No Impact Man
People must use less energy, conserve nonrenewable resources, and minimize their negative impact on Earth. An example of this new way of living is that of Colin Beavan in his book, “No Impact Man. ” It is a true story about the year he spent having no impact on the earth and living an entirely eco-effective life. Along with his family, he does so by minimizing his use of electricity, generating no waste, and watching every move they make to ensure his family makes no impact on Earth.
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Beavan is initially motivated by the global, highly publicized problems, his relationship with his family, and the guilt he feels for his lack of environmental action. Throughout the project, these motivations evolve and he is ultimately motivated by more personal, community problems, maintaining his new relationship with his family, and the guilt he feels about leaving the project. At first, Beavan is concerned with the largely publicized environmental problems. However, throughout the project, he becomes more and more concerned with the small hometown problems.
It started at initially when the news of global warming (already out for twenty years) actually entered Beavan’s “liberal subconscious,” (6). One example was that of polar bears in the arctic that were drowning as a result of the melting ice (8). He went on, using global warming to explain other current disasters, such as plagues, disease, natural disasters, and the rising sea level that will eventually cause the loss of some peoples’ homelands (9). However, after the project, Beavan began to see the problems in a different light.
In his documentary “No Impact Man,” he said, “I don’t care about the freaking polar bears anymore. ” This showed that he was now looking at things from a more local prospective instead of a global prospective. In the movie, this is also shown at the ‘giving back’ phase. Here, Beavan is giving speeches to college students about a large part of the problems faced by our environment being the breakdown of the community. He says people do not know each other very well as neighbors.
This leads to an uncaring attitude for others, meaning one would not go out of his or her way to help someone in a time of need. This relates somewhat to their care for the environment because you are not likely to be involved in the community’s actions toward a better environment, such as charity walk. You also do not feel a personal connection to protect those around you as well as yourself. This, to him, could be solved through a community standpoint, instead of a global view. On a different note, Beavan believed he could better the unity within his family.
By the end of the project, he achieved a nicer relationship and instead moved on to working to maintain that new balance. At the beginning of the book, Beavan could describe his daily routine in a single paragraph. He would simply go to work, come home, watch television, go out to eat, and sleep once he was tired. By the end, it took him nearly three pages. He was more active with his family, such as taking his daughter to the park or talking with his wife. This shows just how much this project affected their daily lives.
Without the luxuries and distractions of every-day life, they were able to get that much more out of their day. For example, eliminating television and certain types of transportation, such as their cars, they family was able to get outside much more often, to see nature more intimately. Also, cooking meals together replaced the time spent using these unnecessary amenities. This benefited them, and made them a closer family. Before the project, Beavan noticed his family was not as happy as they could be (8).
They spent little time together and were still growing more distant. This project had a good influence on all of that. In the movie documentary, it was shown that just spending more time together worked wonders on their relationships. He even noticed that simply walking everywhere made them happier and made them feel more free (85). Their daily schedule was so much different than before (198). As influenced by the media, Beavan began the project feeling guilty for his lack of environmental action.
Ultimately, though, he feels guilty at the thought of still maintaining his environmental impact. He used to only condemn others for the global suffering (8). He would blame George Bush or other political figures for the current state of the planet. He never changed anything on his own. Another example was the “Fur Dilemma,” (4-5). In this, he explained his previous hatred for his wife’s use of fur as clothing. He worked to change her mind to match his on the matter. He later felt like a hypocrite because his views on today’s environment should have been changed.