No Impact Man
The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself an
By Colin Beavan
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374222888, 288pp.)
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
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A guilty liberal finally snaps, swears off plastic, goes organic, becomes a bicycle nut, turns off his power, and generally becomes a tree-hugging lunatic who tries to save the polar bears and the rest of the planet from environmental catastrophe while dragging his baby daughter and Prada-wearing, Four Seasons–loving wife along for the ride. And that’s just the beginning. Bill McKibben meets Bill Bryson in this seriously engaging look at one man’s decision to put his money where his mouth is and go off the grid for one year—while still living in New York City—to see if it’s possible to make no net impact on the environment. In other words, no trash, no toxins in the water, no elevators, no subway, no products in packaging, no air-conditioning, no television . . .
What would it be like to try to live a no-impact lifestyle? Is it possible? Could it catch on? Is living this way more satisfying or less satisfying? Harder or easier? Is it worthwhile or senseless? Are we all doomed or can our culture reduce the barriers to sustainable living so it becomes as easy as falling off a log? These are the questions at the heart of this whole mad endeavor, via which Colin Beavan hopes to explain to the rest of us how we can realistically live a more “eco-effective” and by turns more content life in an age of inconvenient truths.
Colin Beavan is the author of two previous books that have absolutely nothing to do with the environment: Fingerprints: The Murder Case That Launched Forensic Science and Operation Jedburgh: D-Day and America’s First Shadow War. His writing has appeared in Esquire, The Atlantic, and The New York Times. He lives in New York City.
“From their first baby steps (no takeout) to their giant leap (no toilet paper), the Beavans’ experiment in ecological responsibility was a daunting escapade in going green . . . So fervent as to make Al Gore look like a profligate wastrel, Beavan’s commitment to the cause is, nonetheless, infectiously inspiring and uproariously entertaining.”
“With thorough research, Beavan updates his blog (noimpactman.com) with convincing statistical evidence, while discovering new ways to reduce consumption and his family’s environmental footprint . . . An inspiring, persuasive argument that individuals are not helpless in the battle against environmental degradation and global warming.”
“Beavan captures his own shortcomings with candor and wit and offers surprising revelations . . . [Readers] will mull over his thought-provoking reflections and hopefully reconsider their own lifestyles.”
“No Impact Man is a deeply honest and riveting account of the year in which Colin Beavan and his wife attempted to do what most of us would consider impossible. What might seem inconvenient to the point of absurdity instead teaches lessons that all of us need to learn. We as individuals can take action to address important social problems. One person can make a difference.”
—Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat
“Colin Beavan has the disarming and uniquely remedial ability to make you laugh while he's making you feel like a swine, and what's more, to make you not only want to, but to actually do something, about it.”
—Norah Vincent, author of Voluntary Madness
“There's something of Thoreau in Colin Beavan's great project--but a fully engaged, connected, and right-this-minute helpful version. It's a moment when we need to have as little impact in our own lives as possible--and as much impact in our political lives as we can possibly muster. Beavan shows how!”
—Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy
"No Impact Man is a subversive book--not because it preaches a radical environmental agenda, but because it gives the secret to personal rebellion against the bitterness of a man's own compromises."
—Arthur Brooks, author of Gross National Happiness
"The No Impact Experiment changed Colin Beavan and reading No Impact Man will change you."
—Annie Leonard, creator of "The Story of Stuff"