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No Impact Man: Saving the planet one family at a time (English Edition)
 
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No Impact Man: Saving the planet one family at a time (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Colin Beavan
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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

ONE
How a Schlub Like Me Gets Mixed Up in a Stunt Like This


For one year, my wife, baby daughter, and I, while residing in the middle of New York City, attempted to live without making any net impact on the environment. Ultimately, this meant we did our best to create no trash (so no take-out food), cause no carbon dioxide emissions (so no driving or flying), pour no toxins in the water (so no laundry detergent), buy no produce from distant lands (so no New Zealand fruit). Not to mention: no elevators, no subway, no products in packaging, no plastics, no air conditioning, no TV, no buying anything new . . .

But before we get into all that, I should explain what drove me to become No Impact Man. To start, I’m going to tell a story that is more a confession, a pre-changing-of-my-ways stocktaking, a prodigal-son, mea-culpa sort of thing.

The story starts with a deal I made with my wife, Michelle.

By way of background: Michelle grew up all Daddy’s gold Amex and taxi company charge account and huge boats and three country clubs and pledge allegiance to the flag. I, on the other hand, grew up all long hair to my shoulders, designer labels are silly, wish I was old enough to be a draft dodger and take LSD, alternative schooling, short on cash, save the whales, and we don’t want to be rich anyway because we hate materialism.

Once, during a visit to my mother’s house in Westport, Massachusetts, Michelle lay on the bed in my former bedroom and stared up at the ugly foam ceiling tiles. “You know, I grew up with much nicer ceilings than you did,” she said. That, her facial expression seemed to say, explained every thing.

My best friend, Tanner, meanwhile, once called me to tell me that his therapist had said that he “despairs of Michelle and Colin’s differences.” Why Tanner’s therapist analyzed my marriage was a question best left for Tanner to explore in his next session, but the point was that Michelle and I had a lot to negotiate. And the story I’m telling here has to do with one of our negotiations.

For my part, I agreed to put up with the cacophony that comes with Michelle watching back-to-back episodes of Bridezilla, The Bachelor, and all the other trash-talk TV. I hate reality shows. Michelle conceded, on her shopping sprees, not to purchase anything made of or even trimmed with fur. That was the compromise.

Michelle liked a little fur. Not long fur coats per se, but fur hats and fur linings and stuff like that. Michelle was a Daily Candy girl, a Marc Jacobs white Stella handbag girl, a kind of Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw grows up, gets married, and has a baby girl.

On the other hand, call me a pussy, but I felt bad every time I saw one of those raccoons or possums with their guts spilled out on the Palisades Parkway. I also felt bad for little animals getting killed for nothing but their skins.

Yet I managed to exempt, back then, my leather shoes from my concern that humanity puts vanity before kindness to animals. In the cold glare of my own I Want To Buy, my disdain for designer labels and all things consumerist became a little, shall we say, mushy. I was the type of guy who shopped for the fifty-two-inch television, then thought he was a rebel against consumerism because he bought the discounted floor model.

I don’t mean to imply that I was a total do-nothing liberal. I did go to Pennsylvania to canvass voters in the 2000 and 2004 elections. I made get-out-the-vote phone calls for MoveOn.org when they asked me to. I tried to adopt some sort of an attitude of service in my daily encounters and to generally avoid doing harm. I volunteered at the World Trade Center site after 9/11. I even prayed for George Bush, on the premise that hating him just created a hateful world.

The question was, given the state of woman affairs, whether I shouldn’t have been asking more of myself.

A few months after our TV-fur negotiation, Michelle got offered a brand-new, thousand-dollar, white-fox shawl by a friend whose father is a furrier in Michelle’s hometown, Minneapolis.

It’s free and the fox is already dead, went Michelle’s reasoning.

It’s not one fox, it’s ten, went mine. I’ve already suffered your freebasing bad television, and we have a deal about this, I said.

But those are your standards, replied Michelle. Then came her trump card: I want to discuss it at couple’s therapy.

Not that what we actually went to was couple’s therapy. What really happened was, I would drop by sometimes during one of Michelle’s sessions with her own therapist. Anyway, I trundled along to the Upper East Side office, and Michelle explained the situation. Free fox shawl, on the one hand. No fur, on the other–which is Colin’s standard. Why, Michelle asked, should I have to adhere to his ethic?

When the therapist turned to me and said, “Colin?” I surprised both of them by saying that Michelle could buy all the fur she wants. Except, I said, there’s one condition to my releasing her from our deal–and here’s the part where I look like a jerk–namely, that Michelle read out loud certain passages of a PETA brochure about the fur trade that I’d highlighted in green.

“I can read them when I get home,” Michelle said.

“Nope,” I said. “The deal is, if you want to renege on our fur deal, you read it out loud, here.”

Sport that she is, Michelle grabbed the papers, cleared her throat, and began to read. Two results came of all this: First, Michelle decided that she didn’t want to buy fur anymore because she actually has the biggest heart known to humankind and because we are nowhere near so different on the inside as we seem on the outside. Second–and here’s the point of the story–I showed myself to be a smug little fuck. I had mobilized my intellectual and persuasive resources to get someone else to change her behavior, and remained, I saw, utterly complacent about my own.

It’s true that I had occasionally tried to make a difference in the world, but I was coming to think my political views had too often been about changing other people, like Michelle, and too seldom about changing myself.

I made the mistake of thinking that condemning other people’s misdeeds somehow made me virtuous. I’d become, I realized, a member of that class of liberals who allowed themselves to glide by on way too few political gestures and lifestyle concessions and then spent the rest of their energy feeling superior to other people who supposedly don’t do as much.

A year or so later, news about global warming started coming out. I mean, it’s been out for twenty years, but somehow it hadn’t entered my liberal consciousness. We can’t maintain this way of life, the scientists said, the world can’t sustain it. The ice caps will melt, the sea levels will rise, there will be droughts–or, in short, the planet will be fucked and millions of people will suffer.

The countries of the world had negotiated the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, assigning mandatory targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases to signatory nations. But the United States, a signatory to the protocol, as well as the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases, refused to ratify it.

What had I done in light of our country’s deaf ear to environmental concerns? Well, if it rained torrentially, I would say gloomily to whoever was listening, “I blame George Bush for this strange weather.” If in conversation someone said global warming was just a theory, I’d say, “Actually, the scientists say it’s a fact,” and I’d also get a really angry look on my face to show just how adamant I was. And if it was so hot out that I felt the need to turn on both air conditioners, I’d sometimes even feel despondent for a moment or two about the fact that I was contributing to the problem.


Cut to 2006. At the age of forty-two, I have a little girl, Isabella, who is nearly one. We live on lower Fifth Avenue in Greenwich Village. It is January but seventy degrees outside. The middle of winter, and joggers run past in shorts. Young women from the nearby NYU dorm saunter by my building in tank tops.

I’m on the street. I’m walking our dog, Frankie. People around me are happy but I am not. Instead, I’m worried. I put the key in the front door of my building. I walk through the granite-floored lobby. I step into the elevator. The operator, Tommy, an older gray-haired man from Greece, says, “It’s too warm, no?”

“Yeah, well, imagine how warm it would be if there was such a thing as global warming,” I say.

I was being sarcastic, of course. People back then still argued about whether global warming existed. Not me. This was around the time when I had begun to feel really ill at ease. What I read in the news only confirmed, I believed, what I could already feel in my bones.

Summer seemed to toggle straight into winter, and then back to summer–the long fall and spring seasons of my childhood had disappeared. I’d witnessed, that December, a winter storm in which thunder clapped violently and lightning flashed the white blanket of snow into eerie green. Never in my recollection of northeastern winters had there ever been thunder and lightning in a snowstorm.

Tommy chuckled at my sarcastic remark. He threw the lever forward and the elevator lurched upward. After all, what could we do?

For the last few months I had traveled around, discussing a book I wrote about a secret Allied operation in France during World War II. For the last few months, in other words, I’d spent my time talking about sixty years’ worth of yesterdays whe...

Revue de presse

“[Beavan’s experiment is] equal parts grace and calamity … washed down with a big draught of engaging palaver.”
New York Times

“So fervent as to make Al Gore look like a profligate wastrel, Beavan’s commitment to the cause is, nonetheless, infectiously inspiring and uproariously entertaining.”
Booklist

“There’s something of Thoreau in Colin Beavan’s great project — but a fully engaged, connected, and right-this-minute helpful version. We’re at a moment when we need to have as little impact in our own lives as possible — and as much impact in our political lives as we can possibly muster. Beavan shows how!”
— Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy

No Impact Man touches a nerve with people beyond hard-core environmentalists.” 
San Francisco Chronicle

“Beavan forces the reader to confront his or her personal role in the climate change crisis.”
— Winnipeg Free Press

“An inspiring, persuasive argument.”
— Kirkus Reviews

Beavan captures his own shortcomings with candor and wit and offers surprising revelations . . . While few readers will be tempted to go to Beavan's extremes, most will mull over his thought-provoking reflections and hopefully reconsider their own lifestyles.”
— Publishers Weekly

“Deeply honest and riveting.”
— Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat

“Colin Beavan has the disarming and uniquely remedial ability to make you laugh while making you feel like a swine, and what’s more, to make you not only want to, but to actually do something, about it.”
—Norah Vincent, author of Voluntary Madness and Self-Made Man


From the Hardcover edition.

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Commentaires en ligne

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4.7 étoiles sur 5
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great book, great experience ! 12 février 2010
Format:Relié
I have benn following Colin Beavan's experiments since the beginning (through his blog). Reading his book was a very pleasant experience and also a good opportunity to challenge my way of living. Since then, I have been changing lots of thing in my life regarding environmental issues and the fact that it is possible to live happy with less things!
By the way I am French and I am looking forward to seeing his movie !
Have a great time !
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 feeling of belonging 9 décembre 2014
Par Nath
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
In this book, you won't get tips and tricks as in "zero waste home". What you do get is a feeling of not being alone trying to change things. You walk along colin and his family wondering of you could do the same, better, or even try...
I enjoyed reading the book: I like Colin's humor and the way he writes makes it an easy book.
I recommend it
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4.0 étoiles sur 5 Vivre l'écologie comme une aventure 19 décembre 2013
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Le livre est en fait un journal intime d'un gars assez culoté qui décide un jour que lui et sa petite famille vont réduire leur empreinte écologique à zéro... en vivant à Manhattan, NY! Ca veut dire: aucun transport électrique ou à combustion (même pas d'ascenseurs!), aucun déchet (fini les 5 cafés en goblet chaque jour), de la consommation locale exclusivement (fini le café tout court) et toute consommation électrique doit être autogénérée ou compensée par des investissements en projet visant à réduire les taux de CO2.
Le tout est phasé en trois étappes durant la durée de l'expérience, un an. C'est une approche graduelle qui a le mérite d'apporter une dimension pédagogique. A chaque étappe, le lecteur est confronté à un certain nombres de faits et de statistiques à propos de l'écologie mondiale, qui donnent envie de suivre au moins une partie des initiatives de l'auteur.
C'est bien documenté, ça se laisse lire relativement facilement et ça apporte des idées à mettre en pratique dans sa propre vie, si l'envie vous en dit.
Je ne recommande pas le documentaire du même nom, il est assez ennuyeux et n'a pas la structure ni la richesse qu'apporte le livre.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5  96 commentaires
19 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Inspiring! 17 septembre 2009
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
No Impact Man
By Colin Beavan
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-374-22288-8

I love to read environmental writing. There are so many good books available right now on the subject of the environment and global warming that a person can become overwhelmed. I believe this book is a must if you have to limit what you read in this category. (But please don't limit yourself!)

There are so many things to like about this book that I will try to do it justice in this review.

First of all I like the subject. I think that this timely subject must be written about if there is any possibility for changing the status quo. Mr. Beavan takes on the subject from an if not me then who perspective that shows his willingness to step outside of his safety zone and do his part to find some answers.

Secondly I like the fact that one of the main focuses of this book is how changing our way of life to one that does not impact the earth also has an equally positive impact on our personal relationships. I think that it is important that people start to realize the benefits that we all receive when our lifestyles are no longer focused on the act of consumption.

Third, I like his commitment throughout the whole project to do the best he could. Sometimes we are not perfect (thank heavens) but the act of trying is what makes the biggest impact. This commitment carried over to the production of the book itself. It was produced as low impact as possible and shows what can be done if the desire is there.

From a writing standpoint I feel that Mr. Beavan did a wonderful job of making the transitions from information that he has researched, His own personal feelings, and anecdotes on the affect this project had on his family. My interest was always kept happily looking forward to reading just a little more and for the most part I found the flow of the book to move well. Occasionally, I did find some sentences that I had to go over a time or two to make sure that my comprehension was correct. In general it was a very relaxing read. I also appreciate the fact that he included in the back of the book additional places to find information.

What this book does not have a great deal of is detailed information on how they accomplished going off of the grid. Mind you there was a lot of discussion of mason jars and bicycles and a specific change that had to find a solution in each chapter, but not very many more details on how to go off the grid. Near the end of the book, however, you will find a brief outline of a typical day in their household. For the most part the book seemed to be about how they went about researching the information that they needed to accomplish their goals given their specific situation. I think that if this idea is to work for us we all need to do a bit of our own research. I live in Los Angeles. What I have to do to have no impact, especially in the area of transportation is much different than it is in New York. So instead of being told exactly what to do, I found myself being inspired to find the way that works best for my family and my self.

"Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free"
Thank you for such an inspiring work.
12 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 A little naive 21 février 2011
Par D. King - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:CD
I found it incredible that he was in a tailspin right from the start over a runny nose! That "normal" for him was eating take-out or restaurant food every meal, or that his wife was well into the year before she stopped her constant buying--and never did stop drinking coffee. How about a book for the rest of us--those of us who already buy used, and cook our own meals?

In a way, this book does a disservice to the environment movement. By making the assumption that it's an "all or nothing" process, he glosses over the hundreds of millions who could use some guidance in real decisions that may be smaller than reading by beeswax candlelight, but are tremendously important. For example, those of us who don't live in New York City, where things are within walking or bicycling (or scootering) range, probably could use a little more discussion of transportation. I live in a suburb of Houston. Every morning schoolbuses roll by half empty, while the kiddies ride in gas guzzling SUVs. Every afternoon, there's a 2-block-long lineup of those SUVs along the streets around every school in the area, engines idling to keep the air conditioning going most months of the year. Why not exchange some of his endless soul searching for a little prodding to change this scene?

And why does he get so offended when people continue to ask what he uses instead of toilet paper? He's proud of his increased sex life when the television is switched off for the year; what's so terrible about saying that he uses a bidet, or the phone book, or whatever?

Still, I didn't rate it lower because he DOES get points for trying, and for doing his best to make it work. And for trying to make others think about their own impacts.
14 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Book is Finally Out!!! 9 septembre 2009
Par Dedri D. Quillin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
As a long time reader of the No Impact Man Blog I was eager to read this book. It does not disappoint. The year of living low/no impact was a huge undertaking. Often when reading the blog I wondered what Michelle really thought about it all. The book answers many of those questions about the hows and whys. This book is very inspiring to the rest of us guilty liberals who really want to help and change the world or at least our own lives a little bit. It is not so much a detailed list of things to do but more a way of thinking about the whole process that is invaluable. To try this experiment in a place like NY is just amazing. Colin and Michelle are courageous role models for the rest of us. I wish everyone in the US would read this book. Want to be inspired to change your life? Read this book!
10 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 One of the most inspiring accounts of "going green" I've read 21 juillet 2010
Par Real World Reader - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I think this is one of the most inspiring accounts of "going green" I've ever read.

It's not so much that Beavan finds the Perfect Solution to global environmental issues, or actually changes the world with his actions. What he does is better: he *tries*, and he lets us know how hard it is for an urban wannabe environmentalist to pull it off. He doesn't just switch to 'eco' coffee or buy grass-fed beef (the kind of things that most people I know do - and they all really do care). He stops using all food that comes with paper or isn't grown locally. He stops using cars and even public transportation. His goal isn't to be "Lower Impact Man" but instead be "NO Impact Man". He gets very close.

One can argue (and I see that some reviews do) that his efforts are feeble. I disagree. Yes, living in a New York City apartment may not be the ideal platform to bring on an urban eco-paradise. But Beavan's project is even better: he starts WHERE HE IS. So many manifestos simply critique the current situation and describe an lovely impossible Utopia - educational but not *helpful*. Those works might articulate a *societal* road map but they are not very helpful as a *personal* road map.

I really appreciate that Beavan doesn't come across as The Expert. Certainly he's learned a LOT, but he clues us in with his self-doubt, his circular mind-chatter - all the kind of stuff that trips us up when we try to change things. To watch another person have the same experiences and challenges we all do - and still muddle through - is hugely liberating.
33 internautes sur 44 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Too Much (Boring) Soul-Searching 30 janvier 2010
Par EthelQ - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
While this book had its interesting point, I thought the writer was forcing meaning out of simple changes. It took him a full day to realize that the reusable replacement for a tissue was a handkercheif, and he spent entirely too much time soul-searching, at least for my taste.

The simple fact of the matter is that no one can have no impact, it's just not possible to live like that. But instead of finding the healthiest, easiest ways to be environmentally friendly, the author wastes pages on questioning the world's methods, people's sanity, and where our values have gone. The book felt preachy and slightly self-righteous. I also thought the author was unable to face all the facts of life, especially as he never addresses what he uses instead of toilet paper. An immature topic, but one that is necessary.

Overall the book was too long, too detailed in things I had no interest in, and not detailed enough in actual life-style changes. I also found it a little frustrating that by the end of the book the author feels guilty taking mass-transit and keeping more than one light on. I'm all in favor of reducing one's impact, but at a certain point it just seems silly to completely ignore modern technology, especially as that technology becomes more earth-friendly.
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