Monday 24 October 2011

NO IMPACT MAN: Making a Difference One Step at a Time, One Person at a Time.

I could go on and on about this documentary. It's about a man and his family, leaving no carbon footprint, or harmful impact on the environment for one year. AND they live in New York City, which would make the task even more impossible.
Colin Beaven, the driving force behind this project, keeps things very realistic throughout, which I really appreciated. He wasn't an extremest, and he wasn't a know it all. He knew that his family would have to ease into it, so they swallowed one thing at a time. They started with no consuming, then graduated to eating a local, vegetarian diet. They then moved onto clothe diapers, ZERO GARBAGE, no TV, no toilet paper, and finished off with NO ELECTRICITY. They biked for a year, didn't take planes, and his wife even walked up twenty some flights of stairs to work - elevators were forbidden!!! This made me question why I waited sometimes 15 minutes for our lift, when I could simply walk up 4 floors in 5min.
You battle this way throughout the whole movie . You naturally begin comparing your experience with theirs. You began to picture your life without this and that, experimenting with the thought of following in their footsteps. Once they lift the veil of environmental ignorance, changing certain things become no brainers. But some changes would be very drastic and dramatic; Some changes could even causes breakups with your live in companion.
Personally, my spouse would never want to give up his precious TV, and I'd have to give up coffee which would probably drive our relationship into the ground!!! The wife in the flick would have my back on that one:)
I took away two major things from the movie.
1) I am now much more aware of how and what I consume. I'm aware of how I am affecting this planet. I'm going to begin to incorporate small changes into the way I live. For example:
a) Every Saturday I'm going to hit up our local farmers market. You know where your food is coming from, you can ask how its grown, and it frankly tastes better. Less emissions are transported in the shipping of food as well.
b) My cleaning products will all be changed to lemon, Borax (natural laundry detergent) and vinegar
c) I will not use a single plastic bag (see movie for tips)!
d) I'm going to invest in a worm compost to cut down on my garbage
e) I will use as little electricity as possible, right down to leaving things plugged in when I'm not using them.
f) paper towels suck! Wash clothes all the way
g) If it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down! Plus I'm bringing back my camps skills and will drip dry by shaking my bum vigorously :)

Starting with that and we'll see how it goes.

Here is the other thing that really moved me-> At first Colin was doing this project to write a new novel that would give back to society and the planet. The experiment seemed to almost act as a new adventure at first. He seemed to like the idea of devolving, and camping out. However as the movie evolved, and when the media became more and more involved, he began to see that his actions would only make an impact if he a) inspired others to make small, maybe less extreme changes, and b) volunteered his time to local environmental organizations.
Throughout the movie I kept thinking, "this is all great, but he is such a small percent of the population. We all are aware of our waste but chose to stay ignorant to what happens after we take the trash out. How would this make a positive change if Colin was doing the project just to see if he could do it?" This is where realization A steps in, for two main reasons...
Obviously the first is to bleed the information out to the rest of the world, starting with our loved ones. The second is that we need to start believing in the power of our individual actions; No matter how small we feel.
My mind immediately wanders to a vivid memory of my childhood camp director reciting this story:

“While wandering a deserted beach at dawn, stagnant in my work, I saw a man in the distance bending and throwing as he walked the endless stretch toward me. As he came near, I could see that he was throwing starfish, abandoned on the sand by the tide, back into the sea. When he was close enough I asked him why he was working so hard at this strange task. He said that the sun would dry the starfish and they would die. I said to him that I thought he was foolish. there were thousands of starfish on miles and miles of beach. One man alone could never make a difference. He smiled as he picked up the next starfish. Hurling it far into the sea he said, "It makes a difference for this one." I abandoned my writing and spent the morning throwing starfish.”
Loren Eiseley