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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 Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 1, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 124 customer reviews

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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.

Review

“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

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

“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

“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

"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 

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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374222886
  • ASIN: B003P2VD92
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,413,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Kindle Edition
To be fair, there were parts of this rambling part-memoir, part lecture on environmental impact. But ultimately, the books amounts to little more than a false bill of goods.

When you sit down with a book called "No Impact Man," you expect to see... well, a little bit of "no impact" -- or at least an honest attempt at it. But here we have Mr. Beavan immediately breaking his own arbitrary rules. Despite a seven-phase roll-out, we find him breaking rules immediately on the first day, blowing his nose on disposable tissues and changing his daughter's disposable diapers. And then there are the endless compromises. They still take the train to see family, but only two times instead of four. They don't go out to eat in restaurants -- except when friends invite them out. They never give up certain creature comforts that can't be sourced locally (like coffee).

They achieved some big successes, but I chalk a lot of that up to circumstance and location. As New Yorkers, they are able to walk/bike to work, the nanny, the grocery store, etc. While I don't wish for anyone to suffer, this project demands some creative workarounds, and I don't feel like we really get a taste of that until "Phase 7" (no electricity), when the family has to put some real effort and innovation into living life off the grid. And when the project concludes, Breavan informs us that his wife and daughter immediately book a cross-country plane trip to see her parents (after lecturing multiple times throughout the book that one flight like this creates a larger carbon footprint than an entire year of driving).

The overall effort is to be applauded at times, but ultimately we are left with "Lower Impact Man Who Tries Really Hard Most of the Time.
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Format: Hardcover
While this book had its interesting point, I thought the writer was forcing meaning out of simple changes. It took him a full day to realize that the reusable replacement for a tissue was a handkercheif, and he spent entirely too much time soul-searching, at least for my taste.

The simple fact of the matter is that no one can have no impact, it's just not possible to live like that. But instead of finding the healthiest, easiest ways to be environmentally friendly, the author wastes pages on questioning the world's methods, people's sanity, and where our values have gone. The book felt preachy and slightly self-righteous. I also thought the author was unable to face all the facts of life, especially as he never addresses what he uses instead of toilet paper. An immature topic, but one that is necessary.

Overall the book was too long, too detailed in things I had no interest in, and not detailed enough in actual life-style changes. I also found it a little frustrating that by the end of the book the author feels guilty taking mass-transit and keeping more than one light on. I'm all in favor of reducing one's impact, but at a certain point it just seems silly to completely ignore modern technology, especially as that technology becomes more earth-friendly.
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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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