Environmental Conservation & Protection - General
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||Farrar, Straus and Giroux|
||September 01, 2009|
|Average Customer Rating:
|| based on 98 reviews|
Average Customer Review:
( 98 customer reviews )
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19 of 23 found the following review helpful:
Inspiring!Sep 17, 2009
By Amazon Customer
No Impact Man
By Colin Beavan
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Publishers
I love to read environmental writing. There are so many good books available right now on the subject of the environment and global warming that a person can become overwhelmed. I believe this book is a must if you have to limit what you read in this category. (But please don't limit yourself!)
There are so many things to like about this book that I will try to do it justice in this review.
First of all I like the subject. I think that this timely subject must be written about if there is any possibility for changing the status quo. Mr. Beavan takes on the subject from an if not me then who perspective that shows his willingness to step outside of his safety zone and do his part to find some answers.
Secondly I like the fact that one of the main focuses of this book is how changing our way of life to one that does not impact the earth also has an equally positive impact on our personal relationships. I think that it is important that people start to realize the benefits that we all receive when our lifestyles are no longer focused on the act of consumption.
Third, I like his commitment throughout the whole project to do the best he could. Sometimes we are not perfect (thank heavens) but the act of trying is what makes the biggest impact. This commitment carried over to the production of the book itself. It was produced as low impact as possible and shows what can be done if the desire is there.
From a writing standpoint I feel that Mr. Beavan did a wonderful job of making the transitions from information that he has researched, His own personal feelings, and anecdotes on the affect this project had on his family. My interest was always kept happily looking forward to reading just a little more and for the most part I found the flow of the book to move well. Occasionally, I did find some sentences that I had to go over a time or two to make sure that my comprehension was correct. In general it was a very relaxing read. I also appreciate the fact that he included in the back of the book additional places to find information.
What this book does not have a great deal of is detailed information on how they accomplished going off of the grid. Mind you there was a lot of discussion of mason jars and bicycles and a specific change that had to find a solution in each chapter, but not very many more details on how to go off the grid. Near the end of the book, however, you will find a brief outline of a typical day in their household. For the most part the book seemed to be about how they went about researching the information that they needed to accomplish their goals given their specific situation. I think that if this idea is to work for us we all need to do a bit of our own research. I live in Los Angeles. What I have to do to have no impact, especially in the area of transportation is much different than it is in New York. So instead of being told exactly what to do, I found myself being inspired to find the way that works best for my family and my self.
"Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free"
Thank you for such an inspiring work.
12 of 14 found the following review helpful:
A little naiveFeb 21, 2011
By D. King
I found it incredible that he was in a tailspin right from the start over a runny nose! That "normal" for him was eating take-out or restaurant food every meal, or that his wife was well into the year before she stopped her constant buying--and never did stop drinking coffee. How about a book for the rest of us--those of us who already buy used, and cook our own meals?
In a way, this book does a disservice to the environment movement. By making the assumption that it's an "all or nothing" process, he glosses over the hundreds of millions who could use some guidance in real decisions that may be smaller than reading by beeswax candlelight, but are tremendously important. For example, those of us who don't live in New York City, where things are within walking or bicycling (or scootering) range, probably could use a little more discussion of transportation. I live in a suburb of Houston. Every morning schoolbuses roll by half empty, while the kiddies ride in gas guzzling SUVs. Every afternoon, there's a 2-block-long lineup of those SUVs along the streets around every school in the area, engines idling to keep the air conditioning going most months of the year. Why not exchange some of his endless soul searching for a little prodding to change this scene?
And why does he get so offended when people continue to ask what he uses instead of toilet paper? He's proud of his increased sex life when the television is switched off for the year; what's so terrible about saying that he uses a bidet, or the phone book, or whatever?
Still, I didn't rate it lower because he DOES get points for trying, and for doing his best to make it work. And for trying to make others think about their own impacts.
14 of 17 found the following review helpful:
The Book is Finally Out!!!Sep 09, 2009
By Dedri D. Quillin
As a long time reader of the No Impact Man Blog I was eager to read this book. It does not disappoint. The year of living low/no impact was a huge undertaking. Often when reading the blog I wondered what Michelle really thought about it all. The book answers many of those questions about the hows and whys. This book is very inspiring to the rest of us guilty liberals who really want to help and change the world or at least our own lives a little bit. It is not so much a detailed list of things to do but more a way of thinking about the whole process that is invaluable. To try this experiment in a place like NY is just amazing. Colin and Michelle are courageous role models for the rest of us. I wish everyone in the US would read this book. Want to be inspired to change your life? Read this book!
10 of 12 found the following review helpful:
One of the most inspiring accounts of "going green" I've readJul 21, 2010
By Real World Reader
I think this is one of the most inspiring accounts of "going green" I've ever read.
It's not so much that Beavan finds the Perfect Solution to global environmental issues, or actually changes the world with his actions. What he does is better: he *tries*, and he lets us know how hard it is for an urban wannabe environmentalist to pull it off. He doesn't just switch to 'eco' coffee or buy grass-fed beef (the kind of things that most people I know do - and they all really do care). He stops using all food that comes with paper or isn't grown locally. He stops using cars and even public transportation. His goal isn't to be "Lower Impact Man" but instead be "NO Impact Man". He gets very close.
One can argue (and I see that some reviews do) that his efforts are feeble. I disagree. Yes, living in a New York City apartment may not be the ideal platform to bring on an urban eco-paradise. But Beavan's project is even better: he starts WHERE HE IS. So many manifestos simply critique the current situation and describe an lovely impossible Utopia - educational but not *helpful*. Those works might articulate a *societal* road map but they are not very helpful as a *personal* road map.
I really appreciate that Beavan doesn't come across as The Expert. Certainly he's learned a LOT, but he clues us in with his self-doubt, his circular mind-chatter - all the kind of stuff that trips us up when we try to change things. To watch another person have the same experiences and challenges we all do - and still muddle through - is hugely liberating.
7 of 8 found the following review helpful:
False Bill of GoodsFeb 26, 2013
By Benjamin K. Potter
To be fair, there were parts of this rambling part-memoir, part lecture on environmental impact. But ultimately, the books amounts to little more than a false bill of goods.
When you sit down with a book called "No Impact Man," you expect to see... well, a little bit of "no impact" -- or at least an honest attempt at it. But here we have Mr. Beavan immediately breaking his own arbitrary rules. Despite a seven-phase roll-out, we find him breaking rules immediately on the first day, blowing his nose on disposable tissues and changing his daughter's disposable diapers. And then there are the endless compromises. They still take the train to see family, but only two times instead of four. They don't go out to eat in restaurants -- except when friends invite them out. They never give up certain creature comforts that can't be sourced locally (like coffee).
They achieved some big successes, but I chalk a lot of that up to circumstance and location. As New Yorkers, they are able to walk/bike to work, the nanny, the grocery store, etc. While I don't wish for anyone to suffer, this project demands some creative workarounds, and I don't feel like we really get a taste of that until "Phase 7" (no electricity), when the family has to put some real effort and innovation into living life off the grid. And when the project concludes, Breavan informs us that his wife and daughter immediately book a cross-country plane trip to see her parents (after lecturing multiple times throughout the book that one flight like this creates a larger carbon footprint than an entire year of driving).
The overall effort is to be applauded at times, but ultimately we are left with "Lower Impact Man Who Tries Really Hard Most of the Time." He further muddles the narrative with his patchwork religious philosophy (he claims to be Jewish but spends most of the time quoting "zen masters") and recounting family tragedies that are heartfelt but don't really belong in this story. Too much navel gazing and not a big enough "no impact" lifestyle attempt, in my opinion.
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