No Impact Man

Oops, I did it again… Read an excellent book, but one that leaves me challenged, in many ways. Colin Beaven, a New York resident, takes on the amazing task of living a life in the city without leaving any “footprints”. Something most of his friends, acquaintances and probably most of his readers initially think is not only a crazy idea, but also an impossible one to follow through. It turns out, he has to think anew about many different aspects of living, and one can only admire the zealousness with which he goes about in trying to reach his goal. Among other things he, and his wife, stop using public transportation, walk the stairs instead of using elevators, get rid of the TV, turn off their electricity, only buy used or second hand stuff, if any, purchase produce without wrapping, eat locally produced and organic and eventually vegetarian food, eat out only as an exception to the rule (they have set for themselves), brush their teeth and wash their hair in baking soda (I can imagine my teenage daughter’s screams of agony and outrage at this), stop using paper towels, napkins and toilet paper (more cries of agony, this time also from me…).
All of this took a lot of creative and alternative thinking, in addition to courage, determination and stamina.
In return, they realised that they got more time together, both as a couple and as a family, had more time to entertain and be with friends, had more fun, got more exercise, lost excess weight, and, felt more satisfied and at ease and comfortable with their lives and about what they did, or rather didn’t do to the planet.
In spite of all these changes, Beaven found, that living a no impact life was impossible, but that a low impact life was not only feasible, but also preferable to his old way of living. In addition, he found, it is possible to pay back some of the recourses we use and harm we inflict on the planet, by taking part in different projects, like cleaning up a river or a neighbourhood, planting trees, establishing “city gardens” etc. etc.
In Beaven’s opinion, what governments, national and international organizations and committees, industry leaders etc. decide and do, is of the utmost importance, but that we, as individuals must also do our share, sweeping before our own door, so to speak. What we do, does make a difference, and by doing our smaller or bigger share, we may serve as examples to other people, creating spin-off effects in the world around us.
As I said, this book challenged me, to the point of making me feel more than a little uncomfortable. In some areas, I try to do my fair share of environmental living, but in other areas I have a loooong way to go. But instead of being overwhelmed and more or less paralyzed by the challenge, it is possible to think in entirely new ways, and to be confident that some effort is manifold better than no effort. In many cases, if one is to believe Beaven, which I think one should, often it is not even an effort, just a new, and quite often fun way of looking at and doing things. But concerning the toilet paper: I am not quite there yet!
Beaven has his own blog at
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