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Paperback No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes about Himself and Our Book

ISBN: 0312429835

ISBN13: 9780312429836

No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes about Himself and Our

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Book Overview

What does it really take to live eco-effectively? For one year, Colin Beavan swore off plastic and toxins, turned off his electricity, went organic, became a bicycle nut, and tried to save the planet from environmental catastrophe while dragging his young daughter and his Prada-wearing wife along for the ride. Together they attempted to make zero impact on the environment while living right in the heart of Manhattan, and this is the sensational, funny,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

No Impact Man

No Impact Man starts out with the author, Colin Beavan, talking about how he and his wife, Michelle differ on certain things, such as her love of fur and his dislike of reality television. They make a deal that Michelle can watch reality television; as long as she didn't buy anything made of or trimmed with fur. He then talks briefly about global warming and the January day that inspired his decision to become "No Impact Man". After meeting with his book editor, he decides to embark on a life of no impact - no disposable products, no travel that caused carbon emissions, lowering the environmental impact of their food choices, consumer purchases, household operations, and water use/pollution. He admits that this project has forced him to change himself and the way he looks at things. He is honest and admits that he isn't perfect. He knows that he can't solve the world's problems on his own, but he is going to give it the best possible shot he can. No Impact Man is his chronicle of that shot. It provides us with a snapshot of his life prior to the changes, during the changes, and after the changes. In chapter three, Mr. Beavan talks about his trash. He and his wife collected their trash over the course of three days to see how much they actually generated. The result was an appalling ninety gallons. That is a lot of trash for a family of three - imagine what larger families must generate (even in one day). Another startling statistic, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is that food packaging makes up 20 percent of waste nationwide; that includes take out packages and grabbing frozen meals from the grocery store, which tends to be easiest in these busy times (Beavan, 39). Chapter four covers his adventures in purchasing food for his family without using any disposable containers. It is both an exercise in frugality and ingenuity for Mr. Beavan and his family. He tries a variety of different modes of transportation for the food, before settling on organic muslin bags for transporting the bulk goods he purchases home. He also talks about the restraint he and his wife have to show - they can no longer cave to their every craving because it's not sustainable. For example, they must learn to go without their daily coffee fix if they forget the reusable cups at home. This chapter is also peppered with statistics about the amount of garbage in the ocean - statistics that are sickening, yet, given the disposability of our society are not that shocking. Although this has been an interesting read thus far, it is saddening to think about what we are doing to our planet. I think anyone reading this book would begin to question their habits; I know that I certainly have been (as I think about the plastic disposable cup I used from Starbucks a couple of weeks ago). Chapter five covers travel and reducing your carbon footprint via using non-emission producing modes of transportation (biking, walking). Faced with quite a bit of travel over the co

Fascinating account of the author's experience--well worth a read

This is a fascinating book documenting one family's attempt to make no negative impact on the earth, and what that all entails -- and also brings up the question of what our values are and what they mean. Well worth reading.

One of the most inspiring accounts of "going green" I've read

I think this is one of the most inspiring accounts of "going green" I've ever read. It's not so much that Beavan finds the Perfect Solution to global environmental issues, or actually changes the world with his actions. What he does is better: he *tries*, and he lets us know how hard it is for an urban wannabe environmentalist to pull it off. He doesn't just switch to 'eco' coffee or buy grass-fed beef (the kind of things that most people I know do - and they all really do care). He stops using all food that comes with paper or isn't grown locally. He stops using cars and even public transportation. His goal isn't to be "Lower Impact Man" but instead be "NO Impact Man". He gets very close. One can argue (and I see that some reviews do) that his efforts are feeble. I disagree. Yes, living in a New York City apartment may not be the ideal platform to bring on an urban eco-paradise. But Beavan's project is even better: he starts WHERE HE IS. So many manifestos simply critique the current situation and describe an lovely impossible Utopia - educational but not *helpful*. Those works might articulate a *societal* road map but they are not very helpful as a *personal* road map. I really appreciate that Beavan doesn't come across as The Expert. Certainly he's learned a LOT, but he clues us in with his self-doubt, his circular mind-chatter - all the kind of stuff that trips us up when we try to change things. To watch another person have the same experiences and challenges we all do - and still muddle through - is hugely liberating.

"No Impact Man" Makes an Impact

This book is a pleasure to read. It skillfully weaves together a story about a family on a mission with facts about the state of our planet, cultural observations, and bits of age-old wisdom. Minimizing personal environmental impact is the premise here, but spiritual growth (expanding our awareness and taking responsibility for what's happening in all areas of our lives) can be found in the text or subtext of almost every page. Reading it through forces us to take an honest look at whether our current habit patterns contribute to our happiness or just keep us in a constant state of distraction. This book is anything but a self-righteous diatribe on the failure of our species to live sustainably. Rather, we get a frank look at someone's personal experiences figuring out how to be a better human being, filled with trials and failures that we can all relate to. The door is then opened for us to stop criticizing and laying blame on everyone else for our problems, and start taking action to discover happier, more aware and honest lives. The one page that left a sour taste was 222, about the BBC journalist who insisted on knowing what they did in lieu of toilet paper. The author's bitterness towards people's understandable fascination with the toilet paper issue erupts here, and the self-righteous tone of it feels totally out of place in an otherwise humble and beautifully written book. Better to just say, "we used water," or leaves or whatever the case may have been. Besides that one quip, reading "No Impact Man" made me feel noticeably more self-aware. I am more thoughtful about how I affect the world around me with every thought and action, and I find myself making positive changes in my behavior, even without any conscious effort to do so. To me, that is the standard of an excellent and worthwhile book. Thank you for your contribution, Mr. Beavan.


No Impact Man By Colin Beavan Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Publishers ISBN: 978-0-374-22288-8 I love to read environmental writing. There are so many good books available right now on the subject of the environment and global warming that a person can become overwhelmed. I believe this book is a must if you have to limit what you read in this category. (But please don't limit yourself!) There are so many things to like about this book that I will try to do it justice in this review. First of all I like the subject. I think that this timely subject must be written about if there is any possibility for changing the status quo. Mr. Beavan takes on the subject from an if not me then who perspective that shows his willingness to step outside of his safety zone and do his part to find some answers. Secondly I like the fact that one of the main focuses of this book is how changing our way of life to one that does not impact the earth also has an equally positive impact on our personal relationships. I think that it is important that people start to realize the benefits that we all receive when our lifestyles are no longer focused on the act of consumption. Third, I like his commitment throughout the whole project to do the best he could. Sometimes we are not perfect (thank heavens) but the act of trying is what makes the biggest impact. This commitment carried over to the production of the book itself. It was produced as low impact as possible and shows what can be done if the desire is there. From a writing standpoint I feel that Mr. Beavan did a wonderful job of making the transitions from information that he has researched, His own personal feelings, and anecdotes on the affect this project had on his family. My interest was always kept happily looking forward to reading just a little more and for the most part I found the flow of the book to move well. Occasionally, I did find some sentences that I had to go over a time or two to make sure that my comprehension was correct. In general it was a very relaxing read. I also appreciate the fact that he included in the back of the book additional places to find information. What this book does not have a great deal of is detailed information on how they accomplished going off of the grid. Mind you there was a lot of discussion of mason jars and bicycles and a specific change that had to find a solution in each chapter, but not very many more details on how to go off the grid. Near the end of the book, however, you will find a brief outline of a typical day in their household. For the most part the book seemed to be about how they went about researching the information that they needed to accomplish their goals given their specific situation. I think that if this idea is to work for us we all need to do a bit of our own research. I live in Los Angeles. What I have to do to have no impact, especially in the area of transportation is much different than it is in New York. So instea
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