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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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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“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
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The brilliance of this book is its simplicity and acknowledgement of humanity; changing how we live is just plain hard, and Beavan never shies away from that fact but is instead brutally honest about how much he struggled at times. His writing is very accessible and even when he's sharing a lot of information about ecological crises around the world his terms are never so technical that the average person wouldn't be able to understand. Furthermore, he provides illustrations that make big numbers make sense for the individual, something that is rarely done but incredibly powerful. He has a very positive view of human nature, which is sometimes inspiring and empowering and other times comes off as rather naive. He is very upfront about his political and religious beliefs which I found refreshing and helpful for contextualizing his arguments and actions, whether or not I agreed with them.
The actions he takes to live in a more sustainable way are well researched and quite practical. He admits that he does not really expect the average American to put all of his ideas into practice (and that he was only able to do so because it was part of his job to carry out this whole project) but he writes of many people who were able to take a few of his ideas and integrate them into their everyday lifestyles. I found this helpful because I think living sustainably often sounds like a lot of work. It's helpful to get lots of ideas of different ways to live that are simultaneously minimally disruptive to the environment and our present lives. If reducing our contribution to the ecological crises of our day is so easy to do then we can feel empowered instead of helplessly complacent. That said, his ideas are significantly more relevant to other people living in large cities.