No Impact Man shows going green to the extreme

By Staff Writer Benjamin Pfeffer.

A movie called No Impact Man was hosted by the Office of Campus Sustainability and Residential Initiatives, on Thursday, February 21.

In room 207 of the library, they played the movie and served snacks that were environmentally friendly, such as fruit, fig bars, and veggie chips. They gave out the prompt of the movie:

“Writer Colin Beavan has always lived a life concerned about the environment, but he never did anything about it. Now to do something about global warming and environmental sustainability, Beavan decides to go forth with his grand experiment. For one year, Beavan and his family must live without electricity, toilet paper, and pretty much anything that will leave any sort of carbon footprint. During their experiment, Colin’s wife, Michelle, struggles to keep up with her husband. But as the months pass by, Michelle realizes the benefits of their new lifestyle.”

No Impact Man was a movie made about a mission that a New York City man went on to better the environment and help his family’s health, specifically his wife who was pre-diabetic.

The man’s name was Colin Beavan. Beavan supported sustainability his whole life, but finally decided to follow the values that he preached his whole life. His mission was to go an entire year leaving no carbon footprint.

Colin started going to only a Farmer’s Market for his food in New York City. However, he also started planting with an older gentleman and learned much about agriculture.
Throughout the first half of the experiment, six months, the couple struggled both with the new lifestyle as well as with their own family relationship.

The wife, Michelle Conlin struggled with caffeine withdrawals, as she could no longer drink her coffee. She also struggled with the change in lifestyle in general. For example, the family tried to use a Nigerian fridge and it did not work. She then complained to Colin and said that since she was doing what he wanted and living with no impact, he should give her a baby even though he didn’t want another one.

Michelle stated that the worst part of this lifestyle change was the change into food where the production of it caused no environmental impact. She stated, “I can’t eat anything that tastes good.” The wife also didn’t like nature, so I was surprised that she went along with Colin’s experiment.

The couple did allow cheats, however. They could get stuff from their neighbors if they needed it. On one occasion, the wife went to dye her hair at a salon. On another, they took ice from a neighbor to keep things cool.

After six months, they decided to go full on zero carbon footprint. They shut off their electricity for the final six months of the experiment. They had to use candles at night and as it got towards winter it would be dark for long periods of time.

Despite this, the couple and their daughter all survived and expect some of the changes to their lifestyle to remain present.

At the end of the experiment, the wife was able to fly on a plane and go out to see her family. The husband became famous and went on shows, both television and radio, to talk about what he did and try to convince others to live their lives better for the environment.

Throughout the documentary, Michelle actually managed to get rid of her pre-diabetic diagnosis through the “no impact” life.

After the movie, members of the audience discussed it. Questions like “What would the world look like if everyone lived like No Impact Man?” and “What do you think you might find the easiest/most challenging thing to do?” were asked and prompted audience members to discuss how we can save the environment on our own.

The Torch caught up with a member of the team that put on the movie after the show, Green Navigator and Freshman majoring in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Sustainability, Caroline Quirk.

She stated that the purpose in showing this movie was to “show that individuals all around the world are taking initiative to reduce their personal impact. Not everyone has to go the extremes that Colin and his family did just to decrease their carbon footprint.”

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