Friday, February 18, 2011

Lower Impact (Wo)man?

Although I had known about the book for a while, I just watched No Impact Man for the first time. Like me, Colin Beavan is a bit/a lot of an idealist. He's also a self-proclaimed liberal, who decided to see if he and his family could spend a year creating no environmental impact. This experiment meant giving up everything, including toilet paper, refrigeration, electricity, and air and car travel.

When asked about why he decided to embark on this experiment, he said, "It's not about deprivation, and it's not about not taking care of yourself. It's about seeing if you can have a good life without wasting so much." He meets people along the way who have been living a low-impact lifestyle for years and are a bit cynical about his quest. Not surprisingly, he also meets those who would never be willing to give up the "necessities" he and his family do without for a year. No washing machine and laundry detergent? No, thank you!

No matter where you fall in assessing his motives (he did sell a lot of books, and the movie was screened at Sundance), the idea of finding ways to have a significantly lower impact on the environment is one worth exploring. It's something I think about every day, and it's one of the main reasons I moved to Seattle. I wanted to live somewhere with a year-round growing season, reliable public transportation, and easy accessibility to the oceans and the mountains. Granted, I live a very low impact lifestyle because I have chosen to do so, and doing without the fancy paper coffee cups, wardrobe for every season, and excess packaging doesn't really feel like a hardship because it isn't.

From purchases to electricity use to travel, try making a list of everything you can easily do without. I bet it will be longer than you think.

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