Book Review: No Impact Man by Colin Beavan
No Impact Man by Colin Beavan
The premise of this non-fiction book is intriguing. Writer Colin Beavan set out to live for a year in New York without making any impact on the environment, dragging his wife and their young daughter into the experiment also. They decide to do their best to create no rubbish, cause no carbon dioxide emissions (which meant no driving or flying) and limit themselves to only locally grown food. They even unplugged themselves from the electricity grid, stopped buying anything new, didn’t use subways and elevators – and they even gave away their TV.
This radical attempt at being ‘No Impact Man’ is fortunately not a boring eco-extremist read – Colin Beavan is an engaging writer who approaches the entire project with a great deal of honesty, humility and humour. We know on day one that things won’t be smooth sailing when he needs to blow his nose and realises he shouldn’t be using a paper tissue, let alone the issue of his daughter’s plastic diapers that need changing. The reader joins Colin on his journey as he researches the various problems of living as a ‘No Impact Man’ and their possible solutions – and then begins the hard task of implementing them. Some things are a great success, others a disaster, but it certainly had me thinking about many of the issues that he explored – everything from ensuring that everyone in the world has access to clean drinking water to recycling and using less of our precious resources.
After reading this book I had a clear impression that New Zealand is ahead of the US in many of the areas that he raised, but No Impact Man still provided plenty of food for thought. However, this book is not one to read because of it’s ‘worthy’ value, but simply because it is a very enjoyable read – an entertaining mixture of memoir and investigative journalism. I found myself really liking Colin and his family during their attempt to make the world a slightly better place and would recommend you read about their experiment first-hand.