Going to Eco-Extremes in New York City

Back in November 2006, author and environmentalist Colin Beavan decided that he, his wife, and their 2-year-old daughter would embark on a yearlong conservation project.  The goal: to reduce their impact on the environment to as close to zero as possible.

Colin Beavan at Market
Published January 24, 2013 5:00 AM
3 min read

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Colin Beavan at MarketBack in November 2006, author and environmentalist Colin Beavan decided that he, his wife, and their 2-year-old daughter would embark on a yearlong conservation project.  The goal: to reduce their impact on the environment to as close to zero as possible.

By Bill Lawyer

 

Colin Beavan at Market

Back in November 2006, author and environmentalist Colin Beavan decided that he, his wife, and their 2-year-old daughter would embark on a yearlong conservation project. They would reduce their impact on the environment to as close to zero as possible.

 

And, he arranged to have filmmakers Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein follow them around for those 12 months, capturing their quixotic escapades on camera and putting the film footage together into a 90-minute film.

 

“No Impact Man” was released in 2009, both at film festivals and at select theaters in New York and a few other cities.

 

Beavan also wrote a book about the project, “No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process”.

 

The Rye Sustainability and Rye Country Day School Environmental Auxiliary committees invite the public to meet Colin Beavan and see “No Impact”, February 1 at Rye Country Day School. The free screening starts at 7 p.m., but everyone is welcome at 6:30 for light refreshments.

 

While few people saw the film in theaters, it was widely covered in the media. A look at the film’s “external reviews” on Internet Movie Database show that it attracted the attention of reviewers from all over the world. Some of the reviews, however, were not too positive. As The New York Times reviewer put it, the film’s title was “No Impact Man,” but, in fact, Beavan demanded that his wife and daughter participate as well.

 

People were fascinated at the thought of the extremes to which he and his family went to reduce their impact. And, the media quickly zeroed in on the strains that Beavan’s project put on his relationship with his wife, who was an admitted “shop-aholic.” Nevertheless, many reviewers praised Beavan’s willingness to “put his money where his mouth is.”

 

As one reviewer put it: “Imagine going a year without coffee, air conditioning, a car, magazines, disposable diapers, takeout food, and many other creature comforts we all take for granted. Well, Colin Beavan has. Not only did he imagine it, he lived it!”

 

The film is rooted in the reality style, with the camera allowing viewers access to some of the family’s most intimate moments.

 

According to The New York Times, Beaven and his wife are now separated, and he’s moved to Brooklyn, where he ran for Congress on the Green Party ticket last fall. Unfortunately, he received barely 2,000 votes out of more than 177,000 ballots cast.

 

In an interview with The Rye Record last week, Beavan said that the movie and book had an impact way beyond his expectations. “Sales went wild,” he exclaimed, and “people were so interested in my ideas that we set up a non-profit ‘No Impact Project’ to provide week-long training programs. More than 50,000 people have been trained so far, in businesses and organizations around the world.”

 

The book and movie are still relevant, Beavan says, “because they address the issue of how you can deal with global issues on a personal level.”

 

He added that more than 100,000 college students have read the book as part of their first-year read programs. And, he’s working on his next book, “How Shall I Live? The Quest For a Raucous, Fun-filled, Meaningful Life In A frightening, Confusing World That Needs Our Help.”

 

Beavan said he was happy to hear President Obama highlighting the importance of dealing with climate change in his inauguration address. “Now it’s up to the people to show that they support him on this.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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