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Negative Impact Man

I may be the last person in the world to watch No Impact Man (or at least the last in the blogosphere). I actually avoided it for a reason: I was convinced I was going to hate it. But when it popped up in my Netflix Instant Watch while I was procrastinating at writing, I thought I’d give it a chance.

I shouldn’t have. Colin Beaven’s personality just rubs me the wrong way. He might have done some good things, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a better person, and it doesn’t make me want to listen to him disjointedly preach at me for an hour and a half.

Here are some of his own words, to justify my dislike:

“It’s not meant to be scientific; it’s just meant to be philosophical.”

“When I started this project, I just thought I was just going to, like, make less garbage, not travel so much, and wouldn’t I be a hero?”

“My mind wants to tell me that I’m the only one that’s important, so I have to keep teaching myself over and over and over again that that’s not true.”

Everything he does seems like a publicity stunt. Instead of failing to make a pot-in-pot refrigerator (which if he’d done some research he would have known wouldn’t work well in our relatively humid and cool environment), and then mooching ice off his neighbors, wouldn’t it have been better to downgrade to the smallest possible refrigerator and then discuss how to preserve foods without refrigeration? Considering that many people in the U.S. still have second refrigerators or freezers, that would probably have been more useful (and less off-putting to the general public).

Speaking of mooching, Beaven’s approach didn’t seem take into account anything he did outside his home. Turning off the electricity, but then using it at an office (and to, you know, write a blog)—doesn’t that seem hypocritical? We all do this to some extent, whether it’s eating at a restaurant or enjoying the AC at a movie theater, but his bombastic claims make it seem worse. To me, Beaven is the modern-day Thoreau, who wrote about simple living while sponging off his buddy Emerson.

The exaggeration is the worst. The only way he could actually have no impact on the environment is if he killed himself—and even then his funeral would consume resources and pollute.

Okay, off my high horse now. Next time I have the urge to watch something I know I’m going to hate, please stop me.


Comment from Isabel
Time February 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm

I’m on the same boat. I didn’t like No Impact Man at all. I even read some of his posts. He seems like the least genuine person in the world. To be honest, I don’t admire what he did. There was a whole production behind it so it doesn’t seem like he had the best motives for it.

Comment from Erin aka Conscious Shopper
Time February 25, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Wait, did you just say you don’t like Thoreau? I think you need to return your environmentalist card…;)

Comment from Sharon
Time February 26, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Aside from everything else, Thoreau went to town once a week so his mom would do his laundry.

Comment from Brenda Pike
Time February 27, 2011 at 10:16 am

She paid his taxes, too! What a momma’s boy.

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