No Impact Man’s Impact

I laud Colin Beaven’s commitment and devotion to the environment. Not many possess such stamina to endure and the will to compromise for a year-long noble quest, or a radical experiment, in the advocacy of environmental purity.

Nonetheless, despite the austere No Impact Man‘s underpinning theme of environmental protection, I think that this film will have or has little to no impact inspiring wide changes. Bracketing the film, No Impact Man, to me, is more of a documentation of a bold feat accomplished by a highly-dedicated man and his family rather than an activist piece to inspire environmental protection, not to say that it doesn’t at all. As I said before, not many have such stamina to endure and the will compromise for such a noble quest. It’s just not everyone’s natural propensity to live such an extreme eco-lifestyle, given that the modern society is entrenched in a world full of troubles and temptations that preoccupy the psyche of the common masses. Adding onto the cons, the film also depicts the many onuses of said lifestyle paradigm, namely hardship from ostracizing any means of expediency in life such as plastic bags and refrigerators, social relationship strains and career upsets, which may shed a negative light on zero-net environmental impact living.

Was the film an utter exercise in futility? No. The film puts things into perspective, such as the volume of materials we use, waste we produce every week and subsequent impact on the environment. It provides a rough scale of environmental impact if people engage in or inculcate a culture of recycling and reusing products, be conscious of our daily purchases and so on. It also shows the positive results of the experiment: strengthened relationships, healthier physical and mental states and, of course, lessened environmental harm.

The film may not move an entire nation to live a rank carbon-neutral lifestyle, it may inspire many to subscribe to greener way of life.


One thought on “No Impact Man’s Impact

  1. You make a good point: the film documented an “extreme lifestyle”. Colin Beavan lived with barely any impact for an entire year, and the magnitude of this change is more than most people can handle. There was also the additional benefit of fame for Colin, and perhaps much of his and his wife’s sacrifice was purely for the camera. He has become the “No Impact Man”, and if the rest of society were to follow in his footsteps, the spotlight would still be on Colin’s family.

    But I also agree with your statement that the “film puts things into perspective”. I think the extremes show us how easy we have it. After watching Colin go a year without a car, packaged food, and electricity, the rest of us should realize that even small changes to our daily routines could easily be accomplished. But people naturally choose minimum effort. Lives are busy and complex, and if driving into town and buying frozen vegetables saves time and effort, then people are going to do it. When it becomes a community effort or fun project, though, I think people are more committed to the cause. If a city were to propose a competition that challenged the public to make greener choices, or start a “no impact” group/club, I think people would be more motivated to make changes. Regardless, No Impact Man was a great example of what can be accomplished, and people should be inspired to make greener choices because of it.


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