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"Back Off 'No Impact Man': One Family's Yearlong Adventure Without Modern Conveniences Is Drawin

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posted on Sep, 15 2009 @ 11:40 AM
The Link

I have a love/hate relationship with Colin Beavan, aka No Impact Man. I used to hate him; now I love him. And his wife, Michelle, too.

Not in a menage a trois-y kinda way, though. I just really like this smart, funny couple who attempted, for a year, to wean themselves and their toddler, Isabella, off the fossil-fueled conveniences we all take for granted.

For sure a bit extreme, but at the same time an admirable action taken. What an adventure to see what life is like prior to, or possibly, after the modern era we are currently in. I can only imagine the challenges that they faced.

This meant, for starters:

* No driving, no flying, or even relying on mass transit. They got to where they needed to go on foot, bike or scooter.

* No more elevators, either; they took the stairs to reach their ninth-floor apartment (several exceptions to these rules were made: two train rides to visit upstate farms, and an occasional elevator ride when security measures or double-digit floors in a midtown New York high-rise required it).

* No buying new stuff, except for foods produced within 250 miles of Manhattan. So, no more takeout, out-of-season produce or coffee (although Michelle fought for, and won, a concession on the coffee front). And no meat, because livestock production is such a fossil-fuel-intensive process.

* No watching TV; the family eventually went off the grid entirely, playing cards by candlelight and otherwise amusing themselves without electricity.

* No washing machine or refrigerator. Abstaining from these two appliances proved especially challenging, as No Impact Man, the film documenting Beavan's endeavor, memorably shows.

Obviously a pretty serious commitment, one I am not sure I could make, or if I did live up to. But still it raises an important issue and that is consumption.

And it's a question we really need to ask: Although we make up just 5 percent of the world's population, Americans hog roughly 30 percent of the planet's resources and generate one-fourth of the world's greenhouse gases in the process.

Yes, that does seem incredibly out of line, but giving up ALL the conveniences and commodities of modern life seems rather extreme. As an alternative to giving it all up I would propose the notion of 'Simple Living' as a much more realistic, yet effective, method of countering the massive consumption of the western world.

The slogan for this movement that I personally find endearing is:

Live Simply So That Others May Simply Live

What is simple living? Well according to the 'Simple Living Network':

Simple living — aka voluntary simplicity — has just about as many definitions as there are individuals who practice it. Simple living is not about living in poverty or self-inflicted deprivation. Rather, it is about living an examined life — one in which you have determined what is important, or "enough," for you, discarding the rest.

"Living in a way that is outwardly simple and inwardly rich."
— Duane Elgin, author
The Link

So as they say it is not about reverting to the dark ages and giving up everything we take for granted today. It is really more about actually NOT taking everything for granted and really understanding that our consumption has impacts, both on the planet and also on other peoples ability to exist, or exist well.

So often, at least here in the USA, the roll of consumption is given a positive spin. We are lead to believe that consuming more somehow benefits everyone and that there are no draw backs to such consumption.

If we consume goods from other, poorer, nations they are better off for it because this way they make money to pay for the same goods we expect to have in out daily life. A complete disregard for the true repercussions of our consumption.

So while I am not for giving up all the conveniences of the modern world I am a huge supporter of simple living.



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