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No Impact Man – The year of living less dangerously

Today I’d like to draw your attention to a modern superhero – No Impact Man. I first learned about this un-caped crusader two years ago when mild-mannered Colin Beavan was in the midst of his year of living less dangerously for the Earth. He and his family were attempting to live for one year with zero net impact on the planet. This was the No Impact Man experiment.

Make no mistake, the experiment was extreme. One New York Times story dubbed it, The Year Without Toilet Paper. In the New Yorker Elizabeth Kolbert described the family’s life as climbing the stairs to eat cabbage slaw in the dark. Stephen Colbert had a much tighter grasp on reality when he described it as “like ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ only completely implausible.”

I contacted Colin about doing an interview for my Hooked on Growth documentary. I told him this was a perfect example of the extreme sacrifices we’ll all have to make if we don’t get unhooked from our addiction to economic and population growth. It took Colin all of 10 seconds to set me straight. He was not interested in being a part of that story. He would be glad to do an interview about the true story. His story, it turns out, is about how wonderful life turns out to be when you step off the hamster-wheel of the consumptive North American lifestyle.

That exchange with No Impact Man was a turning point in my own journey and development of the storyline of my film. At the time, it hadn’t occurred to me that my film about getting unhooked from growth addiction was destined to have a very happy ending. I credit No Impact Man with getting me on the right track. It made sense! Of course if you get the addict into a recovery program his life improves. This would apply to growth addicts just as much as to heroin junkies.

Now, if you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, then you desperately need to read Colin’s No Impact Man book that just hit the shelves, and see the documentary by the same name.

Check here for a screening of the film your area. If you’re in Colorado, I invite you to a special screening September 25 at Denver’s Chez Artiste Theatre, sponsored by GrowthBusters. I’ll introduce the film and lead a Q&A discussion after the 7:00 p.m. show. The No Impact Man film was a Sundance Film Festival selection, and is getting very positive reviews.

I also recommend you check out the new non-profit No Impact Project. Here you can join a growing cadre of No Impact merry men and women conducting their own No Impact Experiments – for one week. If Colin can go one year without toilet paper, surely you can survive a week without paper napkins.

I thought highly enough of this project I helped put together this welcome video.


This video was made possible by volunteers in New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Colorado. The music was graciously donated by a songstress who wanted to help. I’ve become a big fan of her unusual music. Her name is Lindsey Mills, and you can listen to the full vocal version of the song we used, HXC NRG here. The entire CD is now in rotation in my car (when I’m not in no-impact mode).

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