Tuesday, July 12, 2011

No Impact Man

Have you watched No Impact Man?  The beauty of streaming on Netflix is that I can start a video and finish it six months later!  The time in between my start and finish gave me a new insight into how I felt about this video in the beginning and conversely, how I felt about it when it ended.
I can see where people may feel critical about this project being purely for self promotion.  The premise of the documentary is that a family made up of an author, a writer for Business Week and their toddler pledge to make no environmental impact over the course of one year while living in Manhattan.  I had to wonder if his effort to document this project were to boost the sales of his one-day book about said project.  Even if that is the case, there is much to be gleaned from viewing.
I could very much relate to the wife as she began this journey.  Like her, I used to work in Manhattan and spent my lunch hours scouring the blocks around my office in search of the perfect pair of shoes.  My boss would love to see me return laden down with carrier bags ready to reveal my latest and greatest best find.  But really how many pairs of shoes does one woman need.  Honestly.  There were times that she was angry at her husband for the impact that a no-impact life had on her.  She did not want to give up her refrigerator, practice vermiculture, read by candlelight and wash clothes in the tub.  By the end of the movie, she was learning to cook and zipping alongside taxi cabs in NYC on a bicycle with her daughter in the backseat! Her evolution as a woman, a mother and an wife was remarkable to me. 
Back when I was in my twenties working in Manhattan I would have never in my wildest dreams believe that I would be practicing vermiculture, loving and caring for a backyard garden, eating organically, and seeking to live a simpler life.  Nope.  Never.  Not me.  
This movie is the extreme of what we can all incorporate into our lives.  Even now, there is no way I would want to commit to living my life with zero impact.  I am not there yet on the continuum of wasteful to waste not.  There are some things that I can incorporate into my life that are waste reducing, like shopping weekly, when we have an appointment close to Whole Foods, and trying to use as much in our refrigerator before we replenish.  Keeping my Prius, even when I hate it.  Trying the best we can not to waste resources like water and electricity.  Composting. Purchasing items with little or no packaging.  Giving up plastic bags.  Giving up plastic everything.  Recycling.  
I love the family discussion at the end of the movie about what they will keep, like bike riding, shopping at farmer’s markets and going tv free and what Michelle would like back in her life like electricity and what she wishes to discontinue, such as the worm composting.  Really? How can you not love worm composting??
This is a great movie.  I wish there were not so many F-bombs dropped casually throughout the film.  Otherwise I would let my girls watch it.  They would understand the point that we are all connected.  Like No Impact Man said, for one person to do this means nothing.  But for one person to do this and inspire someone else, who then changes his or her life, well, that makes a difference.  
It it time to make a difference. 

How has your family reduced its impact?
Have you made any small changes that were easy to implement?
What is the biggest change you have made?

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