Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Friday, June 17, 2011

No Impact Man - A book review

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
by Colin Beavan, published 2009.

Ironically, that book title must be the longest title in the world about the topic of minimalism! But don't be put off by the title. It is a great read.

The summary offered on the back of the book reads as follows:

What does it really take to live eco-effectively? For one year, Colin Beavan swore off plastic and toxins, turned off his electricity, went organic, became a bicycle nut, and tried to save the plant from environmental catastrophe while dragging his young daughter and his Prada-wearing wife along for the ride. Together they attempted to make zero impact on the environment while living right in the heart of Manhattan, and this is the sensational, funny and consciousness-raising story of how they did it. With No Impact Man, Beavan found that no-impact living is worthwhile--and richer, fuller, and more satisfying in the bargain.

I will admit, I am a sucker for stories about people who attempt unusual things. Added to that fact, as I get older the statement "More is Less", rings true to me. I am still working on decluttering my life. I am interested in making my life simpler. Just the act of having less in my space, reduces my stress. But I struggle with that concept as well. The "I want" bug still runs rampant in my hobby life.

This chronical is filled with the details of a life style that I would never consider attempting. For example, I like to be comfortably cool in the summer. Turning off the electric power and my air conditioning just doesn't appeal to me. While I could give up my car and use public transportation (especially in a city environment), I wouldn't care to limit myself to just walking or bicycling to get places. I could give up cable TV but I still want to keep my TV to see rented movies. And I am hooked on the Internet. I am more of a middle-of-the-road "more is less" individual. It is fascinating, however, to follow the author's efforts to have no impact on the environment. He tackles each change and challenge with humor and research. And he doesn't propose that this extreme way of life should be permanent. He committed himself and his family for only one year. But the journal of his efforts does raise awareness of the wasteful impact our culture has on our earth. I suspect that if there were more middle-of-the-road individuals on this planet, we could seriously retard the world's general ecological decline.

I strongly recommend this book - not just to increase ecological awareness, but to see what it is like to step outside the box and live differently for a year. I am sure it will have you looking at your world differently.


  1. There is a documentary too if you're interested. the wife was a bit annoying. lol

  2. been there, done that; don't have the physical strength to do it again...carry water from a spring, kerosene lamps, wood stove, no washing machine...but it was a lot more peacefully quiet.

  3. Sounds like a very interesting book. Like you, I wouldn't be able to give up TV or air conditioning let alone many of the other things he wrote about. Julie


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