Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “No Impact Man” as Want to Read:
No Impact Man
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

No Impact Man

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  4,758 ratings  ·  726 reviews
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

A guilty liberal finally snaps, swears off plastic, goes organic, becomes a bicycle nut, turns off his power, and generally becomes a tree-hugging lunatic who tries to save the polar bears and the rest of the planet from environme
Hardcover, 274 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published 2009)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about No Impact Man, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about No Impact Man

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,758 ratings  ·  726 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of No Impact Man
Nov 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Environmentalists In Need of an Energy Boost
Recommended to Trena by: DCPL New Books Shelf
I expected to kind of hate Colin Beavan, but actually the book really sucked me in. He recognizes that one of his main challenges as a person is a tendency toward self-righteousness, and this consciousness helps him temper the tendency when it crops up. He comes across as earnest and likeable, just doing the best he can and making it up as he goes along like the rest of us.

It was an interesting experiment and he and his family fully committed to it. It's also interesting that it's basically an e
Nov 22, 2009 rated it did not like it
it's kind of amazing to me that this book doesn't have more one-star reviews, considering how insufferable it was. i went on a jag a couple of months ago, where i read every eco-gimmick book out there, almost all of which were dreadful. i put this one on hold at the library during that time & then forgot about it & moved on to better books. when the library let me know the book was in & waiting for me, i felt a pang of dread. i didn't go in expecting the book to be any great shakes, but i was no ...more
If you stop to read about the environment or even just to think about the way we use the world, the thought that we're totally screwed is unavoidable. In our lust for power and comfort, we have created an unsustainable system of consuming. I don't even need data support this* - if you burn and destroy and throw away, eventually you're going to run out of stuff to burn, destroy, and throw away.

This guy Colin Beavan realizes this and furthermore realizes that he is a hypocrite for realizing this a
Todd Martin
Mar 15, 2015 rated it did not like it
No Impact Man falls within the genre of books I’d characterize as “author experiments with a lifestyle for a year and chronicles the results”. In this case Beavan attempts to minimize his environmental footprint while attempting to maintain his normal standard of living in New York City. As part of this effort he has to figure out low impact solutions for every-day issues such as: how to travel, what foods to buy, how to heat and cool his home, how to eliminate trash, and blow his nose. The solu ...more
No Impact Man by Colin Beavan was a required summer reading text for my university honors program. While this is a good introduction to examining the consumerism and materialism that currently pervades American consumption culture, the science and claims made in this book are shaky.

That being said, the data for anthropogenic climate change and the unsustainable practices of the modern industrialized society as conducted by the United States are facts. There is plenty of scientifically collected
May 13, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
What a disaster of a book. Conceived by its publishers, the book is meant to discuss the author's year-long project in personal environmentalism. Rather than a helpful how-to, or even an informed philosophical treatise, it is (as the title suggests) a series of personal rants and revelations by a person who has recently found a cause. Lacking any sort of expertise or credibility, Beavan comes off as both obnoxious and pretentious, leaving readers to wonder at the narrator's apparent immaturity a ...more
Jun 17, 2009 rated it did not like it
Simply awful, pretentious and obnoxious. Colin Beavan is milking the environmental movement, trying to make a quick buck off the green buzz. If the author is any indication of the caliber of person currently trying to change the world, please, thanks, but no thanks.
Jan 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
This book has been hot in the eco-blogosphere for a while now. I missed the documentary when it came to Olympia, but I thought I should read the book anyway. There was a long wait at the library, so I experienced plenty of build-up and hype. This book brought out some strong feelings and opinions that I didn't realize I was harboring. I spent some time working through my assumptions. I was really irritated - what an arrogant, presumptuous, hyperbolic, self-serving premise for a book! Doesn't the ...more
Helen (Helena/Nell)
Oct 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I knew this book would make me uncomfortable. I was right.

It was uncomfortable in a good way, though. It made me think, which is what Beavan intended. And it will do more than just make me think: I know I’m going to change some things in my life as a result of reading it (how often do we say that of a book?).

Obviously the drawback to the huge challenge of sustainability is that when faced with the reality, we feel overwhelmed. What’s the point? What difference can we, as individuals, possibly
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
An entertaining look at one family's attempt to live for a year without having an impact on the environment in NYC -- transportation by foot, bike or skateboard only, no packaging, no paper plates, trying to eat local, very limited electricity available by solar power, etc. The changes to lifestyle, particularly with food, were told in a light hearted way but still makes one think.
Author skips politics, tries to demonstrate what one person can do to cut down on waste and therefore highlights j

One and a Half Stars

Man, I really wanted to love No Impact Man. As soon as I started reading I knew the author's grating false-casual tone would get to me. Still, I kept reading. Despite being annoyed by the author's voice and random text blocks throughout the book (like a magazine might have), I was genuinely intrigued by the concept of someone taking environmentally conscious living to its limits. Colin Beavan may be annoying, but his message is good, right?

Wrong. Beavan is a creepy, contr

Jan 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Less a how-to or an examination of environmental science, this is more of a why-to, an exploration of what's in it for you. Beavan's one-year stunt isn't about an earnest hippy going that extra mile, it's about your average concerned citizen realising that he's got to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

So he gives himself, his wife and daughter a huge challenge, realises it's a bit insane, and forges ahead anyway. It's about his efforts to reduce his hypocrisy as well as his eco-footprint.
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
So really two things are happening here - the Project and the Book. I give the Project an A. Learning to live without so many of our modern conveniences - most of which depend on waste or environmental devastation of some sort - is fascinating. Can we live comfortable lives without harming the earth and contributing to climate change? Beavan's experience reveals that comfort and happiness are possible - even abundant - in a life free of waste, except that things start to suck when you give up el ...more
Andrew Welsh-Huggins
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
We made changes to how we consume food after reading Michael Pollan that made us feel like we'd awakened to a new, more responsible way of living. This book showed me, in a positive, inspiring way, how far I have to go still. So this week's goal: no paper coffee cup acquisitions. Reusable or bust. ...more
Cristina Tomi
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it, an interesting experiment. I think it's a good book for those who are just starting to question themselves about what they could to to help the planet.
I enjoyed the little daily dramas, that people are usually reluctant to share to others, and I liked that it basically states you need to just try, and you might surprise yourself .
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not at all preachy, this book is about a man who talked the environmental talk and walked the sustainable walk for a full year. Filled with references cited from reliable resources, this book creates a needed sense of urgency without being off-putting. It should be required reading.
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
highly engaging report of a year author, his wife, and his daughter lived in NYC trying to have absolutely minimal environmental impact -- eating only locally grown foods, creating no trash, not using electricity, no TV, not traveling by plane or car or train, not buying anything new, not taking the elevator, etc. etc. etc.

Interesting from the points of view of..

(a) problem solving -- e.g., some trial and error on how to keep his daughter's milk cold without using refrigerator

(b) interpersonal r
Jun 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Now I scrammed this book off my brother, because it seemed fairly interesting. One man, one family, trying to be as eco friendly as they can be, without fully taking everything out of their life. The entire book was actually a revelation or revolution change in my mind, since Colin is trying to be that one person who goes beyond the statement, if no one else does this, why am I? There are plently of people who try to cut down on produced waste and using less plastic and taking certain foods from ...more
May 30, 2010 rated it did not like it
It's my own fault. I picked this up thinking I would hate it because of the title, yet I checked it out and read it anyway. I almost gave it two stars because I want to shoulder part of the blame, but that doesn't excuse how bad this book was.

Author just annoyed the hell out of me through the entire book. If you're actually encouraging people to make these kinds of changes, why not explain what you're doing instead of using toilet paper rather than getting angry about it when people ask questio
Nov 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
I got about halfway through and then decided to check in with good reads before potentially wasting another minute on this. As someone who doesn't own paper towels, gave up meat 15 yrs ago, tampons 10 years ago, started vermicomposting 5 years ago, and would have never even considered disposable diapers, this book was ridiculously elementary. As I read through his major philosophical breakthroughs I kept half expecting him to have a Eureka! moment where he realizes he should turn off the lights ...more
Jul 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Not going to lie, I never would have picked this book up had it not been for the fact my college required it (as a common reading assignment for all incoming first years). I appreciate what the author did and how he tries to motivate his readers to do the same (but less extreme version). At the very least the author managed to make me uncomfortable with my life style, but that is not why I gave this book three stars. Three stars because frankly I just hated the writing style. I wished for more d ...more
I picked this book to read after watching the documentary of the same name. Both are excellent and different enough to check out both. While the documentary shows more the personal and emotional aspects, the book goes deeper into the family's background, personal difficulties, and breaks down the stats of climate change into easily digestible facts and figures. It is also frank about successes and failures of all sorts. Beavan makes no secret that he purposefully went as far extreme as he could ...more
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Fantastic! In this narrative Beavan takes on the challenge to live with ‘no impact’ to the environment for 1 year. What he doesn’t realize is just what it will include and how much it will impact him.

Truly a fascinating experience that goes into the first steps of becoming a person who is working to save the environment. Although some of the things he does may seem drastic, he offers ideas and solutions to every-day tasks that will help the environment rather than hinder it. I found a lot of gre
Sep 15, 2018 rated it liked it
There were some things I really liked about this book- it emphasized environmental action that is sustainable/customized for each individual or family that is trying to live eco friendly lives.

But there were also some things I didn’t like. I didn’t appreciate the way Beavan spoke about his wife—it felt very condescending and belittling. Additionally, he made negative comments about some women’s weights in the book that only detracted from the book and my view of him as a person.
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An emotional roller-coaster for anyone who constantly worries about climate change and the environment. This book helps give your ordinary environmentalists (common citizens worried about global warming) hope for the future as well as an education on how individual action is not meaningless and can promote change thus eventually, making a difference.
Ellie Hutchison Cervantes
Colin Beavan embarks on a journey, with his wife Michelle and young daughter Isabella in tow, of living for an entire year without making any negative environmental impact (or off-setting the unavoidable negative impacts with positive ones). Living in the heart of New York City, the No Impact Project was born out of Beavan’s concern with rising global temperatures, frustration at his own environmental inaction, search for a more meaningful way of living, and practically, his need to write anothe ...more
Carolyn Elaine
Nov 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Colin Beavan decides to become No Impact Man for an entire year, meaning no waste, no electricity, no gas. No impact whatsoever so the Earth for an entire year. In his memoir, No Impact Man, Beavan talks about his successes and failures as being No Impact Man. He even brings his wife and their two year old daughter along for the ride.

I enjoyed the memoir, but I didn't fall head over heels in love with it. I read No Impact Man for my honors class because we're discussing what makes us change our
Kind of torn on this one. It’s definitely inspiring to think about living the kind of life that his family lives, but as I’ve pretty much already implemented as many zero waste/ eco friendly methods as is currently feasible for me it was definitely preaching to the choir. A couple things rubbed me the wrong way: the way obesity was discussed, sometimes the way he talked about his wife, a weird claim in the first chapter about chemicals being “proven” to cause autism? The book can be quite repeti ...more
Desiree Wills Velazco
Very informative and thought provoking. This book should be a must read for everyone
Jake Bellucci
Really liked the ideas and definitely influenced me to change some of the waste we generate!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Similar book to No Impact Man 2 7 Feb 24, 2016 11:53AM  
SOH-Par Book Club: Just finished No Impact Man... 4 10 May 31, 2012 05:15AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too
  • Vivre avec moins pour faire place à l'essentiel
  • Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living
  • Trespassing Across America: One Man's Epic, Never-Done-Before (and Sort of Illegal) Hike Across the Heartland
  • The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and our Health—and a Vision for Change
  • Sudenmorsian
  • Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America
  • Simple Acts to Save Our Planet: 500 Ways to Make a Difference
  • Minimal : pour un mode de vie durable
  • The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business
  • The Mission of Art
  • Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It
  • Rien dans le ciel
  • Onnenkissa
  • Le cœur synthétique
  • The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children
  • A Conservationist Manifesto
  • The Buy Nothing, Get Everything Plan: Discover the Joy of Spending Less, Sharing More, and Living Generously
See similar books…

News & Interviews

Nature, in Her infinite awesomeness, can provide solace even when you’re stuck in the house. As a matter of fact, the numbers suggest that...
81 likes · 12 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“We are the ones we've been waiting for.” 11 likes
“At what age did I start to think that where I was going was more important than where I already was? When was it that I began to believe that the most important thing about what I was doing was getting it over with? Knowing how to live is not something we have to teach children. Knowing how to live is something we have to be careful not to take away from them.” 11 likes
More quotes…