Sunday night, my boyfriend and I (along with my coworker Chris and his beautiful wife Kelly) attended a free screening of No Impact Man at Environmentaland in LA. It was, in a word, inspiring. I first heard about No Impact Man about a year ago, maybe more. In a nutshell, NIM is Colin Beavan’s year-long attempt to live with no environmental impact.
Dragging his wife and daughter along for the ride, Colin documented his experiences via film, writing and blogging each step of the way, no electricity, no elevators, no cars, no garbage, even no toilet paper. Watching them as they graduated from struggling to thriving while living without television and buying all their own food at a farmers market (even visiting the local farm on which their food was grown), I quickly understood just why someone would want to give up all these simple, convenient comforts. Aside from killing our planet, which is more than alarming, it makes me a little ill to think of all the things we’ve come to depend on. Surely this over-consumptive behavior isn’t the way we were intended to live – is it? What happened to good old fashioned one-on-one entertainment with the people we love and planet we live on?
Before I get into a big rant here, I’ll get to the point. You should all watch this movie, which opens nationwide on Sept 11. I believe it has something to teach everyone (and for the record, his wife is abs. hilarious.) The Q&A with Colin after the film gave the very small audience a more intimate look into why Colin embarked on this daunting adventure (much of which has carried over in his day-to-day), and what he has learned from it. His book just hit bookstores yesterday and I plan on buying it.
Here are some other things I plan on doing:
- -First of all, I want to sell my car. Whether or not I’ll be able to is yet to be determined. I have a brand new car that I just bought last summer, and I’m no dummy – I know turning around and selling would create a big fat void in my bank account. Plus, I live in LA. I only work 2 miles from home, so biking wouldn’t be bad, but there is the occasional need for a car. Perhaps selling and buying something cheaper is the solution? We’ll see. Onto smaller goals.
-No more plastic bags! Simple, and absolutely necessary. I’m not about to add to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch anymore than I already have… I’m buying a few more reusable grocery bags and gosh darnit I’m gonna use ‘em.
-While we’re on plastic, no more plastic bottles. I felt kind of silly sitting with a plastic Smart Water bottle at the movie premiere, but what other choice did we have when they were serving free wine (organic in cornstarch cup from a cardboard box, btw) and had no AC (they really meant it when they said “NO impact.”) I have a Camelbak that works perfectly fine, there is no need to litter up the planet with even more plastic bottles.
-Use less electricity. I have a big apartment, and it takes a bit of light to brighten this place up. But I love candles, and have windows on three sides of my apt, so why waste electricity? It’s more romantic, anyway. Unplugging appliances will be necessary as well.
-Less, if any, TV. I’m a busy girl as it is, so I don’t watch a ton of TV. I have my favorite shows, though, so I am currently “borrowing” slash housing my friend Serena’s flat screen while she’s rendezvousing in NY for who knows how long. My old tube-style TV is just sitting here in the corner. I think I might sell the old fashioned TV, use Serena’s for now, and then ween myself off of it after she takes it. I don’t really need cable these days anyway – hello, Hulu! At most I might get another display and hook it up to the good old laptop for movie and TV watching. Shows are better on DVD anyway.
-This is the most fun one… BIKING!!! I can’t wait to buy a bicycle and ride it EVERYWHERE. I’m a little nervous about “urban cycling,” especially in a city where everyone takes cycling very seriously. I don’t need a fancy pants bike, I just want to pedal, man! To the grocery store, to work, to the bank, to yoga, to my friend’s house, to wherever my day takes me. I can’t WAIT to drive less and bike more.
I am also going to limit myself to five vices. This is a pretty big thing, so I haven’t quite decided what my five will be (but I can assure you coffee and french fries are two one of them). Not sure how this fit into my impact equation but it did, so I’m leaving it for now.
At one point Colin was pointing out the advantages to living in urban environments – community, for one. On that note, I have to say one of the things that I love about living in a big city like this (despite the terrible air quality and overall yuck factor) is the opportunity to go to events like this. Even if they did refuse to turn on the air conditioning. I’ve lived without AC in my apartment for 2.5 years now, and I’m doing just fine!
Interested in how you can lessen your impact? Here are Colin’s top 10 ways in which you can decrease your impact. #1? Stop eating beef.