Nov 13, 2011

Book Review: No Impact Man

Colin Beavan was the kind of person who tells others that they need to change their ways to prevent global warming without really doing anything themselves. Colin decided one night that this had to change and took their family on a journey to find out if a person can live with no impact on the environment.

In a world where people are told that they must earn more money, get the right job and, quite simply, buy their happiness, are people actually happy?  Colin does not claim that people should give up on their needs or eschew material goods, he simply believes that one must, well, live simply.

"The people most satisfied with life, it turned out, had strong social connections, found meaning in their work, got to exercise what they considered to be their highest talents, and had a sense of some higher purpose." - Colin Beavan p.26

I am sure that many of you have noticed the importance of these things in your own lives. How dull is your life when you have no joy in your job and it consumes your life completely?

Colin starts off looking at the problem of global warming and helping the environment from a position of achieving self-fulfilment rather than from a position of helping humanity but then start to realise just how important it is. The book is filled with practical advice for people wanting to start the journey on their own; switch from tissues to hankies, from disposable nappies to cloth, make your own food, ride a bike and buy secondhand.  There is also information on global warming and how much waste people produce and, to be honest, the figures are scary.

Photo Credit: How Stuff Works

On their journey, Colin faces a lot of stumbling blocks and learning curves but tells about all of them with complete honesty.

This book had a few too many bits of religious and spiritual insight in it for me*, which have nothing to do with ethics (based on logic) and more to do with morals (being told what is wrong and right).  That said, it was a book about one person's experience rather than a researched academic paper on what one must do to help the environment.

As someone who claims to love the environment myself, I can say with honesty that I do not always walk the walk; sometimes I buy food from takeaway places or eat out at restaurants. Sometimes I'll buy a bottle of water because I forget my metal drink bottle.  The average Australian generates over 2,000kgs of waste each year.  In 2007, 21.3 million tonnes of waste went into landfill (Australian Bureau of Statistics).

Photo Credit: debabrata

I have found this book to be inspirational and I will look out for more opportunities to lessen my carbon footprint and try not to destroy the environment, our planet, as much. Part of the reason I went vegan was to lower my carbon footprint and environmental impact.  Now I am going to buy a hemp bag for carrying my groceries and maybe some of these Fregie bags to use instead of those plastic bags at shops.  Colin also emphasises that creating a positive impact is important too, which I already try to do through the fundraising events at Kommoner.

"My life itself is a resource.  How shall I use it?" - Colin Beavan p.205

What do you do to help the environment?  Do you think the government needs to step in more?

*I am a person who enjoys logic, not stories about the meaning of life, but I am sure that people would enjoy them and possibly find meaning in them.

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