You may have heard something about No Impact Man or you may have heard about the guy who was going to live in New York City without making any environmental impact for a whole year (crazy, right?). Or maybe you read the New York Times article that catapulted Colin Beavan -- aka No Impact Man -- to international recognition. Or you happened to read Elizabeth Kolbert's scathing New Yorker profile on Beavan's efforts, dubbing it an eco-stunt. (You can read the response to Kolbert's article Beavan posted on HuffPost Green here.)
Regardless of what you've heard, you should see this incredibly compelling documentary, which opens in New York and Los Angeles on September 11th and in select cities in the following weeks.
I'm a fan because I think it has the ability to bring a lot of attention, through humor and human drama, to questions about the way we live, how we consume and what we can do to become responsible environmental citizens.
Here's the premise from the "No Impact Man" film website:
Colin Beavan decides to completely eliminate his personal impact on the environment for the next year.
It means eating vegetarian, buying only local food, and turning off the refrigerator. It also means no elevators, no television, no cars, buses, or airplanes, no toxic cleaning products, no electricity, no material consumption, and no garbage.
No problem - at least for Colin - but he and his family live in Manhattan. So when his espresso-guzzling, retail-worshipping wife Michelle and their two-year-old daughter are dragged into the fray, the No Impact Project has an unforeseen impact of its own.
Watch the trailer:
Several reviewers found Mrs. No Impact Man -- aka Michelle Conlin -- to be the most compelling character in the film.
Jonathan Hiskes on Grist.org writes:
Conlin is more sympathetic because she misses coffee and tires of eating local root vegetables. She thinks, understandably, that a year is a long time to go without buying new clothes. While No Impact Husband devotes much of his day to cooking, cleaning, and making the experiment work, she keeps her day job. The filmmakers play up Conlin's "espresso-guzzling, retail-worshipping" characterization, but it's still clear this is difficult for her.
Here's an excerpt from Conlin's BusinessWeek article (where she's a reporter) about The No Impact Experiment:
Little did I know that a year after the project's completion the global financial system would implode, or that the era of high-impact living--using one's house as an ATM, jetting off on a lark--would come to a spectacular and cataclysmic end. And here's the strange and unpredictable twist: Going No Impact for a year turned out to be sublime preparation for the post-subprime life.
In addition to the film, Beavan has written a book about the experiment which goes into a lot more detail about the project, information about the environment and resources on how to get involved.
Beavan has also started the No Impact Project non-profit to empower people to live their own no-impact lifestyle and has created a 7-day action plan to show how to do it.