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No Impact Man

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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  3,794 Ratings  ·  643 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
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2009)
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Trena
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
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Ciara
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, ...more
Christopher
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
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Margaret
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
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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
Erika
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
Erica
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.
jess
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
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Rachel
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
Stringy
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.
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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.
Wendy Robinson
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.
David
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
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Amanda
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
Susie
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
Maya
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
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Lex
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
Gabriel
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
Apr 05, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Maghily
May 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Il y a pas mal de réflexions intéressantes dans ce bouquin, notamment sur la nécessité de changer notre mode de vie et l'impact que chacun peut avoir sur la société. Malheureusement, j'ai trouvé l'auteur trop "américain" dans sa façon de présenter son projet. Il partait de vraiment loin et dans les premières pages, c'est une vraie tête à claques. Par contre, je trouve que c'est très égocentré sur ses réflexions personnelles mais que cela apporte peut d'information concrète sur son mode de vie au ...more
Jillian
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jillian by: Kyle
No Impact Man is the story of a family of three trying to make as little environmental impact as possible for a year: eat only local food, take only human-powered transportation, buy no brand new products, live without electricity, produce no trash (which means no paper products, disposable items, food that come in packaging...) etc. They make a few exceptions, but it’s still an impressive and extreme project. As the subtitle explains, Colin starts as a “guilty Liberal” who doesn’t do much for t ...more
Tacey
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-books
"There is a reason why trash bags aren't made of transparent plastic that would allow us to see inside. We're uncomfortable with what we might see. It is because...on a daily basis, people like me would be faced...with hard questions about the way we live...: Do we work for and pay for all this convenience in order to live our lives, or do we live our lives in order to work for and pay for all this convenience?"

I've always wondered how people claim that a book changed their life. Now I understan
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Mary Harley
Apr 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: environment
I liked this book more than I thought I would - I was expecting to be annoyed by some super-hero wannabe who was completely off the environmental deep end (even more than Alice's Amish Sister!).
Instead, this blog-turned-book is a lot more humble about mistakes made, picking up and trying again to leave less of a footprint on the earth. The author, Colin Beavan, admits that he is naturally prone to criticizing other people's wastefulness and one day decides to just try to make a difference himsel
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Sapote3
Jun 28, 2010 rated it liked it
I often find that I'm most influenced by books I hated (that Positivity book is another one) or books where I find the research spotty but the idea strong. I think there are some really good things about this book: the author is an ecoschlub who is not already awash in tips and tricks but rather has to start from the ground up (handkerchiefs exist, and you can't grow coffee in New York.) He lives in a city and doesn't apologize for it, which I appreciate - I'm sick of people acting like driving ...more
Jen
Jun 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. This was one of the most honest books I have read in a long time and was what I really needed to read at this point in my life. I had seen it on sale at a bookstore in the fall and figured I would pick it up--the title and the materials used to make the book were enough to convince me. And I am so glad I did.

I picked up the book on Saturday morning this last weekend as a favor to my supervisor who was looking for a book that she could use for her freshman course in the fall and I couldn
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Timothy Juhl
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Sound the alarm! Code Red! Code Red! Holy Shit! We're using up all of the earth's resources by wiping our asses and blowing our noses and reading the newspaper and drinking coffee and ordering pizzas and riding in cars and buses and taxis! Blah, blah, fucking blah.

I managed to read all but the last 40 pages of this bloated blog entry about a man who coerces his wife to allow him to reduce the family's carbon footprint to nearly zero. First, he analyzes a week's worth of trash and realizes that a
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Leanne

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, control

...more
Alisha Bennett
Jul 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sometimes I find myself recommending a book, thinking about a book, talking about a book, changing because of a book........and No Impact Man is one of "those"

Colin is a very talented and witty writer. His musings, all important life-changing enviro talk aside, are frankly funny. I was impressed from the first section where he talked about being the kind of person that wanted to change others but didn't practice what he preached. It takes guts to admit that.....out loud....to others.....alot of
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Franziska
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ein Selbstversuch, der eine New Yorker Familie von Plastiktelleressern (sie haben nie selbst eine Mahlzeit zubereitet) und aus to-go-Becher-Trinkern in Treppenläufer (in New York!), Radfahrer, regional/ saisonal Esser (plötzlich wird selbst gekocht!) verwandelt. Das Experiment dauert ein Jahr und macht auch vor Klopapier/ Tampons und der eigenen Stromversorgung nicht Halt. Nach Ablauf des Jahres beschließen sie einiges beizubehalten (kein Fernseher) und anderes moderat wieder einzuführen (Kühlsc ...more
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“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
“We are the ones we've been waiting for.” 9 likes
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