No Impact Man: no impact movie

No Impact Man: no impact movie

I am having “one of those weeks.”  I am recovering from a cold and still have lots of “stuff” going on in my ears.  I’m menstruating even though I just did so a few weeks ago.  I suddenly own a cat again.  My scooter tire is flat.  And my father may not be with us much longer which would require me to fly back to Vermont on Tuesday (IF my ears are cleaned out) even though I just returned from being there for 3 months.

So, because my trip would mean I would miss Tuesday’s screening of No Impact Man at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota, I decided to live stream it on Netflix last night.

First, I applaud Colin Beavan’s efforts to draw attention to the problems of the world.  I do think it became a little too “reality TV-ish” however.  Turning off your electricity is a little extreme.  The irony is that they still used water and gas, so I’m not sure why they didn’t keep the electricity.  In fact, if he’d really wanted to be resourceful, why didn’t he get enough solar panels to run the lights as well?  Find a DC fridge on Craigslist?  (If he’d really done his research about the zeer pot, he would’ve seen that they really only work in dry climates.)  I mean, he REALLY wasn’t very resourceful.  I would’ve loved to have seen Michelle do some thrift store shopping.  I mean, she epitomized ridiculous excess with her $1000 boot purchase.  We didn’t get any resolution to her shopping issues.

And, about the coffee… they could’ve found fair trade coffee if she really needed a fix.  Going to Starbucks was not the answer.  I’m sure Whole Foods sells fair trade coffee.

Honestly, I was not overly impressed with this movie.  Lots of people make these kinds of choices every day, and they don’t get famous.  I haven’t owned a car since February – it’s not a big deal.  Most people who make these choices are a little smarter about it!   I mean seriously, they could’ve bought some great solar lamps and lanterns… or even oil lamps – this is 2010, for Pete’s sake!  They didn’t have to read by candle light.  That is so bad for your eyes.

I guess it reminds me of what someone said once about riding the bus.  I sometimes feel like an ass because I choose to ride the bus when most bus riders are doing it out of necessity.  These two people had seemingly loads of money and did this only as an experiment.  You could see at the end of the movie that Michelle was ready to go right back to her old ways.  She hadn’t really embraced the idea of needing to help the environment.  Some of it she thought was “fun” but only because it was temporary.

What I would’ve LOVED to have seen in this movie is the use of some common sense and 21st century resources in this experiment.  What I found frustrating was that little of the information offered was useful to the average individual.  No one is going to follow their example because they went about it in such a backwards way.  What I wanted to see was a family finding a way to PERMANENTLY alter their life so as to live more sustainably.  I wanted to see them convince their building to install solar panels on the roof.  I wanted to see them plant an apartment garden, replace their old appliances, update their toilets, and get a tankless water heater.  I wanted to see them buying used and organic cotton clothing.  I was happy to at least see Michelle learning to cook.  She needs to get over herself.

What I think they succeeded in doing is turning people OFF from the idea of living more sustainably by making it look inherently unattractive.  I feel like I need to make a counter video to show people that it’s not only not hard but healthy and fun all year ’round EVERY year.  It’s mostly about preparedness.  So, if you’re going to sell your dryer, first put up a nice clothesline and buy a few indoor clothes drying racks.  If you’re going to sell your washer, first buy a hand crank table-top washer.  (No one is going to walk on their clothes in the bathtub!)  If you’re going to turn off your lights, get solar lamps or a solar panel to run lights.

I sold my car in February and have used bus, bike and electric scooter ever since.  I don’t use my dryer at all (and should just sell it for scrap metal).  I grow some of my own food.  I shop almost exclusively at the farmer’s market.  I buy all natural cleaners but would like to start making my own.  My lawn person uses an electric mower.  I use all natural products to combat bugs and garden pests.  My electric and water bills are super low.

I feel I am making a BIG impact in a very practical way… a way that anyone can follow.  And I am always looking for the next step that I can implement to make it richer and more sustainable.

My life is not a novelty – it is real and happy and healthy.  (Despite current sucky circumstances.)

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