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Green Week Spotlight – No Impact Man

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What It Is: In this case, not what – but who. No Impact Man is Colin Beavan – 43 years old, writer, family man,  and overall just an ordinary guy. An ordinary guy with an extraordinary mission.

“No Impact Man is an experiment with researching, developing, and adopting a new way of living for myself and my family – one wife, one toddler – and one dog – to live in New York City while causing no net environmental impact. By decreasing the habits we do that hurt the earth (making trash, causing carbon dioxide emissions, and so on) and increasing the things we do the help the earth,  cleaning up the banks of the Hudson River, giving money to charity, rescuing sea birds, etc.”

What is Net Impact? There are many (many) layers to this, but in short, easy to digest summation: Negative Impact + Positive Impact = Zero (No NET impact). Colin’s lifestyle included giving up toilet paper (think about the creativity that had to be incorporated here), consuming only food that has been grown within a 250-mile radius, avoiding all carbon-producing forms of transportation, no air conditioning, and buying no new material items. Colin goes so far as to pick up his dog’s poop (yes, I called the s*** ‘poop’ – Billy Madison reference. Anyone?) with plastic bags he finds around the city. It all may seem a little extreme, but he is changing the way people look at their own impact on the environment. Motivating people to question their own habits and challenging people to reduce their own eco-footprint.

The Takeaway: Colin and his family went to extremes to prove a point. They showed thousands of people who followed them on their journey just how wasteful we can be and how society (in general) takes so much for granted. Their journey is chronicled on Colin’s blog – and since the experiment has reached it’s conclusion, many of the habits formed have remained in place for Mr. Beavan and his family. Now, (almost) every day – Colin writes about ways we can improve our own habits, asking people what things they re-use to reduce waste, inviting people to stand up for change with their local governments and politicians, and enforcing that it doesn’t take an extreme year-long experience, it starts with small changes in everyday habits.

My Two-Cents (for what it’s worth): As a society, we look toward the highest levels of government to change the world. As much as I love and support Obama and his message, change will never come from the top down, it has to start with us – you and I have to inspire the change we want to see in the world. It sounds almost impossible in the grand scheme of things, but little things really can go a long way. I’m by no means an environmentalist, but I feel compelled to raise some awareness – and this blog is the best way to have my voice heard. My hope is that this article, or maybe another one, will spark something inside of you to make a couple changes. Switch to CFL light bulbs, convert that old box in the back of your closet to a recycling bin, cut your time spent in the shower by just one minute or buy a water-efficient shower head. It’s little things like this that seem so easy, and really are – it’s just about making that personal commitment to yourself and DOING it. Make a list of things you want to change, blog and network with some friends to get them to do the same. You’ve got to start sometime, why not make it today?

“The way I see it, waiting for the senators and the CEOs to change the way we treat the world is taking too long. Polar bears are already drowning because the polar ice is melting. In fact, research shows it’s worse: they are so hungry, they are actually starting to eat each other. I can’t stand my so-called liberal self sitting around not doing anything about it anymore. The question is: what would it be like if I took the situation (or at least my tiny part of it) into my own hands? I’m finding out.”

I encourage you all to check out Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man blog. A ton of great information and if your struggling for inspiration, he’s got plenty to motivate you into action. Small changes, big difference.

Green Week Challenge: What is ONE small thing you can do to benefit the environment by changing an everyday habit? Share your thoughts here and over at the Green Week homepage for your chance to win FREE swag courtesy Cool People Care & WEADDUP.

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  1. Please tell me that they at least reinstated toilet paper at the conclusion. I mean, I am for the environment. I have grown up in a pro-environment home where we recycle and the whole shebang (too long of a list to type), but toilet paper has it's importance and you don't have to be wasteful in usage.

  2. Here are some ‘TP’ numbers – granted they are a little dated. But according to the statistics, American’s use over 50 pounds of toilet paper each year. http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5142

    As for alternatives, I guess you could always go the cloth approach, but that seems like it would be a bit…inconvenient (putting it nicely) I think I’ll just find other ways save the planet.