Book Review - No Impact Man, The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process, By Colin Beavan.
In this remarkable book the author, a young man living in Manhattan with his wife and infant daughter, decides to do a nearly impossible experiment. He decides to live for an entire year without making any impact on the environment. He does this, along with his wife and daughter. He covers all aspects of modern living --transportation, food, travel, recreation, paper and cardboard used in packaging, even Kleenex and toilet paper. He decides to buy and use only food produced within 250 miles from his home. He walks or uses a bike, never a car, and sets a strict limit on flying. He buys cloth diapers for the baby, and uses neither elevators or subways, and electricity only for washing clothes.(As he and his wife are both authors, they have flexible time.
Beavan does an amazing amount of research on the impact on the environment that is done word-wide, especially by Americans. Here are some of his findings: The average American produces 4.6 pounds of trash every day, roughly 17,00 pounds per year; - In the Pacific there is a swirl of garbage, mostly plastic, the size of the U.S.; - A child by age two, goes through some 4,000 plastic diapers; - There are 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of the ocean (U.S. Environment Program); - Food packaging makes up to 20% of our solid waste nationwide; - Many plastics take hundred of years to deteriorate; - While 1 billion of people in the world lack clean drinking water, Americans flush 2.5 trillion gallons a year down the toilet; - A single round-trip by plane pours three tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, as much as an entire year of driving by car. (These are merely a few of his discoveries.)
The author acknowledges that perhaps no one could do the drastic experiment that he did. But he said that it's imperative that we all do something. He ends with an appendix of sources and ideas…some 25 pages… to help those who decided to make an impact on the environment, on the harm we are doing daily to our earth. He writes with humor, conviction, and a realistic admission of the problems he encountered in his attempt to "save the planet." His is a book well worth reading. (It will soon be in our library.)