Documentary: No Impact Man

So it's turning out that waste-free is somewhat of a theme in my week. I've had "No Impact Man" on my Netflix Instant Queue for a couple months now, but just got around to seeing it yesterday afternoon.

Colin Beavan and his wife, Michelle Conlin, and their daughter Isabella set out to live one full year entirely off the grid (environmental-impact-wise) right here in lower Manhattan and they did it!  I'm talking no chemical cleaners, no electricity (think elevators, refrigerators), no food produced more than 250 miles from NYC.  It's pretty phenomenal.

Here are some things I learned:

  • In the US, the average piece of food has traveled 1500 mi from the farm
  • The average American produces aproximately 1600 lbs of waste each year.
  • Knowing your farmer (or about his or her practices) is more important than any organic label.  Ronny from Ronnybrook Farms in NY doesn't subscribe to the "organic" labeling rules because it means he cannot treat his cows.  In the case that they get sick he cannot give them antibiotics and  so they die.

Here are some interesting things he said:

  • About 6 months into the project he has a realization: It's not about using as little as possible, but getting what you need in the most sustainable way, without hurting the planet.
  • People constantly ask: What's the hardest part? He says: It's not about deprivation or denying yourself; It's about if you can have a good life without wasting so much.
  • When asked: Do you think one person can change things? He says: The thing about individual action is it causes people to engage.
  • When talking to a group of NYU students beginning their quest to live 1 week with no environmental impact he says: The most radical political act there is, is to be an optimist; Is to believe that if I change, people will follow suit.

And there's much more where that came from.  Here's the trailer (but rent the movie!):