No Impact Man

By | September 3, 2009

No Impact Man

Colin Beavan so despaired at a lack of political action on climate change that he decided to see what difference he could make by living for a year with as little impact on the environment as possible.Beavan and his reluctant wife, Michelle Conlin, drastically changed their lifestyle, doing their best not to create trash, cause carbon dioxide emissions or pour toxins into the water supply and by buying only local produce.

The New Yorkers rode bikes to get places, walked up and down the nine flights of stairs to their apartment and cooked meals with food from a local farmers market. They also got rid of their television and bought no new clothes for themselves or their 18-month-old daughter Isabella.

Six months into the year, came the most dramatic step — they switched off the electricity.

“It wasn’t about being an environmentalist and then doing it. It was about just being a concerned citizen and stumbling forward,” Beavan, author of two history books, said in an interview.

“We jumped in without knowing what we were doing,” added Conlin, a writer for BusinessWeek.

Beavan has described his experiences in a book, “No Impact Man.” A documentary of the same name, directed by Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein, will be released in the United States this month.

“Just doing a little bit is not actually enough,” said Beavan, who also blogged about his year-long experiment. “If we are essentially going to change the planet … we have to consider changing our way of life.”

Greenhouse gases emitted by burning coal, oil and gas are warming the planet. Governments are due to meet in December in Denmark to agree a new U.N. climate. The hope is to avoid some of the more drastic effects of global warming which include more droughts, floods and the spread of diseases.

…. The couple said the year was hard because U.S. culture is not equipped to support sustainable living.

But the project produced “hidden joys.” While Conlin at first resented her husband for not letting her use the dishwasher, she grew to love spending time with her daughter doing the dishes.

“I exchanged my addiction to screens and my high fructose corn syrup induced haze for eating really clean food and feeling good and having an intimacy with my family and friends,” Conlin said.

Living with little impact was not only good for the planet, it was also good for their bank account. Conlin said the couple cut their discretionary spending by about 50 percent.

The couple still tries to live sustainably, although not as radically. They still ride bikes, but occasionally take taxis, and they still live without a dishwasher, freezer, clothes dryer and air-conditioner.

– yahoo

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