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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 Paperback – May 25, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1 edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312429835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312429836
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Beavan (Fingerprint) chronicles his yearlong effort to leave as little impact on the environment as possible. Realizing that he had erred in thinking that condemning other people's misdeeds somehow made [him] virtuous, he makes a stab at genuine (and radical) virtue: forgoing toilet paper and electricity, relinquishing motorized transportation, becoming a locavore and volunteering with environmental organizations. Beavan captures his own shortcomings with candor and wit and offers surprising revelations: lower resource use won't fill the empty spaces in my life, but it is just possible that a world in which we already suffer so much loss could be made a little bit better if husbands were kinder to their wives. While few readers will be tempted to go to Beavan's extremes, most will mull over his thought-provoking reflections and hopefully reconsider their own lifestyles. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“The No Impact Experiment changed Colin Beavan and reading No Impact Man will change you.” —Annie Leonard, creator of “The Story of Stuff”

“Far from being a movement of self-denial and stern lectures about having too much fun, the 'no impact' mind-set is actually about increasing fulfillment and happiness by asking us to think about what makes us truly happy and what's really important in our lives.” —Arianna Huffington

No Impact Man is a deeply honest and riveting account of the year in which Colin Beavan and his wife attempted to do what most of us would consider impossible. What might seem inconvenient to the point of absurdity instead teaches lessons that all of us need to learn. We as individuals can take action to address important social problems. One person can make a difference.” —Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat

“Profound . . . Beavan's project has significant emotional and ecological heft.  No Impact Man works, most of all, because Beavan is intelligent, funny, provocative, and, above all, honest.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer

“There's something inspiring about a smart, committed person coming to an elegantly simple conclusion.” —Los Angeles Times

“You have to give Colin Beavan credit; the man put his money where his mouth is. A self-proclaimed 'guilty liberal' tired of the world's general ecological decline, he decided to change his life. And in no small way. Even better, he did it with a sense of humor.” —The Boston Globe
“There's something of Thoreau in Colin Beavan's great project--but a fully engaged, connected, and right-this-minute helpful version. It's a moment when we need to have as little  impact in our own lives as possible--and as much impact in our political lives as we can possibly muster. Beavan shows how!” —Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy

“From their first baby steps (no takeout) to their giant leap (no toilet paper), the Beavans’ experiment in ecological responsibility was a daunting escapade in going green . . . So fervent as to make Al Gore look like a profligate wastrel, Beavan’s commitment to the cause is, nonetheless, infectiously inspiring and uproariously entertaining.” —Booklist

“With thorough research, Beavan updates his blog (noimpactman.com) with convincing statistical evidence, while discovering new ways to reduce consumption and his family’s environmental footprint . . . An inspiring, persuasive argument that individuals are not helpless in the battle against environmental degradation and global warming.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Beavan captures his own shortcomings with candor and wit and offers surprising revelations . . . [Readers] will mull over his thought-provoking reflections and hopefully reconsider their own lifestyles.” —Publishers Weekly

“Colin Beavan has the disarming and uniquely remedial ability to make you laugh while he's making you feel like a swine, and what's more, to make you not only want to, but to actually do something, about it.” —Norah Vincent, author of Voluntary Madness

No Impact Man is a subversive book--not because it preaches a radical environmental agenda, but because it gives the secret to personal rebellion against the bitterness of a man's own compromises.” —Arthur Brooks, author of Gross National Happiness 

More About the Author

As the news stories go: "Colin Beavan is a liberal schlub who got tired of listening to himself complain about the world without ever actually doing anything about it..." Thus, in November, 2006, Beavan launched a year-long project in which he, his wife, his two-year-old daughter and his four-year-old dog went off the grid and attempted to live in the middle of New York City with as little environmental impact as possible.

The point of the project was to experiment with ways of living that might both improve quality of life and be less harmful to the planet. It also provided a narrative vehicle by which to attract broad public attention to the range of pressing environmental crises including: food system sustainability, climate change, water scarcity, and materials and energy resource depletion.

Beavan's experiment in lifestyle redesign is the subject of his book (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and a Sundance-selected documentary by independent film producers Laura Gabbert (Sunset Story, Getting to Know You) and Eden Wurmfeld (The Hammer, Puccini for Beginners, Kissing Jessica Stein). Both the book and the documentary will be released in September, 2009. Columbia Pictures also plans to make a feature film (produced by Todd Black) based on the book.

Beavan writes and administers the provocative environmental blog NoImpactMan.Com, which has become a meeting point for discussion of environmental issues from a "deep green" perspective. In addition to some 2,500 daily visitors and 4,000 daily page views, the site has 10,000 email and "newsreader" subscribers. About 1.8 million people have visited the blog since he established it a year and a half ago.

Beavan was named one of MSN's Ten Most Influential Men of 2007 and was named an Eco-Illuminator in Elle Magazine's 2008 Green Awards. His blog NoImpactMan.com was named one of the world's top 15 environmental websites by Time Magazine. He was named a 2008 Eco-Star by New York City's Lower East Side Ecology Center.

The No Impact project has been the subject of stories in the New York Time, the Christian Science Monitor, and many other national and international news outlets. Beavan has appeared on The Colbert Report, Good Morning America, Nightline, The Montel Show, and all the major NPR shows. He speaks regularly to a wide variety of audiences, is frequently quoted in the press and consults to business on the intersection of sustainability and human quality of life.

Beavan is a PhD electronic engineer (University of Liverpool). He spent the late 80s and early 90s as a consultant to philanthropic organizations such as social housing providers, drug treatment agencies and hospitals, helping them to promote themselves in order to secure increasingly scarce, Thatcher-era funding.

In 1992 Beavan returned to the United States and wrote for magazines until Hyperion published his first book Fingerprints: The Origins of Crime Detection and the Murder Case that Launched Forensic Science (a popular history of criminology) in 2001. In 2006, Viking published his second book, Operation Jedburgh: D-Day and America's First Shadow (about the operation that formed the precedent for U.S. anti-Soviet operations in Afghanistan).

He is director of the No Impact Project, a visiting scholar at NYU, an advisor to the University's Sustainability Task Force, and sits on the board of directors of New York City's Transportation Alternatives and on the advisory council of Just Food.

Customer Reviews

He relates his year long experience in a very funny and poignant way throughout this easy-to-read story.
David Ortiz Jr.
This book is very inspiring to the rest of us guilty liberals who really want to help and change the world or at least our own lives a little bit.
Dedri D. Quillin
This is actually a very good read if you're into sustainabiltiy and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.
Morbidly-Yours

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
No Impact Man
By Colin Beavan
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-374-22288-8

I love to read environmental writing. There are so many good books available right now on the subject of the environment and global warming that a person can become overwhelmed. I believe this book is a must if you have to limit what you read in this category. (But please don't limit yourself!)

There are so many things to like about this book that I will try to do it justice in this review.

First of all I like the subject. I think that this timely subject must be written about if there is any possibility for changing the status quo. Mr. Beavan takes on the subject from an if not me then who perspective that shows his willingness to step outside of his safety zone and do his part to find some answers.

Secondly I like the fact that one of the main focuses of this book is how changing our way of life to one that does not impact the earth also has an equally positive impact on our personal relationships. I think that it is important that people start to realize the benefits that we all receive when our lifestyles are no longer focused on the act of consumption.

Third, I like his commitment throughout the whole project to do the best he could. Sometimes we are not perfect (thank heavens) but the act of trying is what makes the biggest impact. This commitment carried over to the production of the book itself. It was produced as low impact as possible and shows what can be done if the desire is there.

From a writing standpoint I feel that Mr. Beavan did a wonderful job of making the transitions from information that he has researched, His own personal feelings, and anecdotes on the affect this project had on his family.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By D. King on February 20, 2011
Format: Audio CD
I found it incredible that he was in a tailspin right from the start over a runny nose! That "normal" for him was eating take-out or restaurant food every meal, or that his wife was well into the year before she stopped her constant buying--and never did stop drinking coffee. How about a book for the rest of us--those of us who already buy used, and cook our own meals?

In a way, this book does a disservice to the environment movement. By making the assumption that it's an "all or nothing" process, he glosses over the hundreds of millions who could use some guidance in real decisions that may be smaller than reading by beeswax candlelight, but are tremendously important. For example, those of us who don't live in New York City, where things are within walking or bicycling (or scootering) range, probably could use a little more discussion of transportation. I live in a suburb of Houston. Every morning schoolbuses roll by half empty, while the kiddies ride in gas guzzling SUVs. Every afternoon, there's a 2-block-long lineup of those SUVs along the streets around every school in the area, engines idling to keep the air conditioning going most months of the year. Why not exchange some of his endless soul searching for a little prodding to change this scene?

And why does he get so offended when people continue to ask what he uses instead of toilet paper? He's proud of his increased sex life when the television is switched off for the year; what's so terrible about saying that he uses a bidet, or the phone book, or whatever?

Still, I didn't rate it lower because he DOES get points for trying, and for doing his best to make it work. And for trying to make others think about their own impacts.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dedri D. Quillin on September 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a long time reader of the No Impact Man Blog I was eager to read this book. It does not disappoint. The year of living low/no impact was a huge undertaking. Often when reading the blog I wondered what Michelle really thought about it all. The book answers many of those questions about the hows and whys. This book is very inspiring to the rest of us guilty liberals who really want to help and change the world or at least our own lives a little bit. It is not so much a detailed list of things to do but more a way of thinking about the whole process that is invaluable. To try this experiment in a place like NY is just amazing. Colin and Michelle are courageous role models for the rest of us. I wish everyone in the US would read this book. Want to be inspired to change your life? Read this book!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Real World Reader on July 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
I think this is one of the most inspiring accounts of "going green" I've ever read.

It's not so much that Beavan finds the Perfect Solution to global environmental issues, or actually changes the world with his actions. What he does is better: he *tries*, and he lets us know how hard it is for an urban wannabe environmentalist to pull it off. He doesn't just switch to 'eco' coffee or buy grass-fed beef (the kind of things that most people I know do - and they all really do care). He stops using all food that comes with paper or isn't grown locally. He stops using cars and even public transportation. His goal isn't to be "Lower Impact Man" but instead be "NO Impact Man". He gets very close.

One can argue (and I see that some reviews do) that his efforts are feeble. I disagree. Yes, living in a New York City apartment may not be the ideal platform to bring on an urban eco-paradise. But Beavan's project is even better: he starts WHERE HE IS. So many manifestos simply critique the current situation and describe an lovely impossible Utopia - educational but not *helpful*. Those works might articulate a *societal* road map but they are not very helpful as a *personal* road map.

I really appreciate that Beavan doesn't come across as The Expert. Certainly he's learned a LOT, but he clues us in with his self-doubt, his circular mind-chatter - all the kind of stuff that trips us up when we try to change things. To watch another person have the same experiences and challenges we all do - and still muddle through - is hugely liberating.
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