A Documentary with Definite Impact

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Colin Beavan, a writer of two published historical novels, decided to do something new in the Fall of 2006. He devised a plan to make as little of an environmental impact as possible for one full year, while living in New York City with his wife Michelle and his 2-year-old daughter Isabella.

Although the plan was initially research for his next book, it soon turned into a documentary in the making (No Impact Man). Major habits of the family had to be changed, including switching to a vegetarian diet, getting rid of the TV, using only self-propelled transit, giving up coffee and new clothes shopping, switching to reusable diapers, and only buying local food with no packaging.  The couple also composted all of their food scraps and went without electricity for six months.

The many changes made to help the environment during this experiment were commendable, and no doubt will help viewers with ideas on how they too can make less of an impact, but it’s the human experience and struggle we witness in the film that makes it work so well. Comedy and emotion blossoms from these great moments that only real-life can produce. Like when Colin decides to do laundry in the bathtub using his feet. (A scene reminiscent of the famous “I Love Lucy” grape-squashing fiasco.) His two-year-old gladly joins in, and eventually his reluctant wife does too; and by the end they’ve shared a bonding experience none is likely to forget. Moments such as this not only entertain but also illustrate the emotional benefits of doing things differently and together.

Check it out for yourself. No Impact Man opened in select theaters around the country Sept. 11. You can find a list of cities and dates at the film’s Web site.

—Gabrielle Harradine, Market Editor