“Our current cultural story tells us you get to work, you do your job, earn a lot of money, and that will help all of us, because that will grow the economy. People are up to their ears in credit card debt. They’re losing their houses to mortgage foreclosures. They’re working so much that they can’t spend time with the people they love. Maybe we could find a way of life where we could make ourselves happy, be less acquisitive, and concentrate on the things that really make people happy, which happen to also use fewer environmental resources.”
Colin Beavan became known as ‘No Impact Man’ in 2007 for conducting a one-year lifestyle experiment from the heart of his New York City apartment intended to cause virtually no impact on the environment. Along with his wife and daughter, he vowed to use no carbon-based transportation and almost no electricity, produce no trash except for compost, buy no material goods save for locally grown food, and use no paper products, including toilet paper, which prompted much curiosity and a number of media headlines.
Beavan documented the adventure in his award-winning blog, No Impact Man, which grew into a discussion forum for environmental topics. He wrote a book, 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, which was translated into 15 languages and became required reading in over 100 American colleges. Beavan and his family were also the subject of a Sundance-selected documentary film, No Impact Man.
He subsequently founded the No Impact Project, an environmental non-profit organization that encourages citizens to adopt lifestyle choices that lower their environmental impact, and favors community action and involvement in environmental politics. To date, 50,000 participants have lived through their personal ‘No Impact Week,’ an immersive educational experiment created by the organization.
Colin Beavan’s writing, speaking, and activism has stimulated many to examine their lifestyle. He speaks about environmental issues, food system sustainability, consumerism and quality of life to a variety of international audiences including businesses, universities, and community groups.
Beavan’s work has been the subject of stories in the New York Time, The Guardian and Le Monde. He has appeared on The Colbert Report, Good Morning America, Nightline and NPR. He was named one of MSN’s “Ten Most Influential Men,” one of Time Magazine’s “Top 15 Environmental Blogs,” and Treehugger’s “Best Green Ambassador.”
Beavan is a 350.org Messenger, a dharma teacher in the Kwan Um School of Zen and an NYU visiting scholar. In 2012 he ran as a Green Party candidate for a seat at the US House of Representatives. He was not elected.
Though he has now returned to using a refrigerator, Colin Beavan continues to commute by bike, to buy locally grown food and to own no air conditioner. He still composts, though no longer from inside his apartment.
Visit his website:
The No Impact Project website:
The No Impact Man Blog:
New York Times feature piece: “The Year Without Toilet Paper”
At the Heart of an Occupation interview with Colin Beavan:
ABC Nightline Extra: No Impact Man – Can a family live without making an environmental impact? (8.5 min)