No Impact Man, by Colin Beavan, is the go-to book when it comes to radical green experiments. The “No Impact” experiment makes our trash-free lifestyle look like we’re environmentalists with training wheels.
No Impact Man chronicles a year in which Beavan, along with his wife and toddler daughter, slowly but surely eliminated all their entire net impact on the planet. In other words, they created no trash, used no electricity, bought only local products, rode bikes around New York City, scooped doggie doo in scavenged plastic bags, and basically removed themselves from our entire consumer culture. This is no small feat.
The Beavans accomplished this by pacing themselves. They didn’t go “cold turkey,” as one might expect from the book, which suggests an entire year of no impact living. Instead, the adjustments were made in quarterly installments – first they stopped creating trash, then they stopped relying on fossil fuels for transportation, etc. – so that by the end of the year, they were living off the grid.
Beavan’s book is chock-full of philosphical musings about our role in a greater global environment. It does lack specific instructions for adopting Beavan’s no-impact lifestyle, but it’s still an interesting read that inspires me to go further in my activism.