I had mixed feelings about the documentary “No Impact Man”. On the one hand, I think it was a really intriguing idea to pursue, and that it was a fantastic way to get publicity for a cause he believed in.

On the other hand, I think that some aspects of the project was extreme. I know that it was done as an experiment and that he knows it wouldn’t be easily reproduced by others or for any extended amount of time (in it’s entirety, at least), but some of it seemed borderline dangerous to me. Going without heat (especially during the winter months in New York), questionable sanitation, and no electricity all seemed like it could get really dangerous with a small child around the house. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it child endangerment, but changing practices so drastically might have caused a lot of accidents (candles lighting the rooms, diaper cleanliness, etc.). I just think that if they wanted to turn off the lights and heating, they should have tried it at a different time of year or for a shorter amount of time (maybe a month instead of six?).

I was also confused about everyone’s reactions to the wife. I heard a lot of comments about how pathetic she was for wanting caffeine, missing electricity or basic hygiene. I think that she was the “everyman” of the project; no one in our class can go 20 minutes without opening a macbook or sending a text. Half of us come to class with a can of soda or a cup of coffee and yet we criticize her for abruptly shifting her entire way of life in a matter of weeks. On top of this, people were actively criticizing at the time of experiment for her participation. She had all the emotional and physical strain she could take and it seemed like she ended up getting a positive experience, which I think was great.

As for things I could see myself adopting from the project, mainly I’d like to cut down on my trash. Everything I consume comes in at least one form of packaging; many have two or three (paper/foil candy bars, cardboard/plastic cereal boxes, etc.). I take out a lot of trash bags to the dumpster every week, and if I could cut down on that I’d really be happy. I carry a tote bag to Publix whenever I go shopping, but generally ask for plastic bags anyhow to keep things organized. Since I have so many anyway, I could probably reuse some I already have to keep down the number I have of them floating around.

I’ve been thinking about eating more organic food/locally grown food anyway, but there were a lot of excellent arguments for that in the documentary which really want me to give it more of a try. Also, cutting back on my caffeine would probably be a good idea as well.

Overall, I thought it was a great documentary and I was happy about the achievements the family made and the potential awareness they were spreading to the global community about the footprints we leave.

-Rachel Schwarting


2 responses »

  1. Tim L. says:

    Completely agree about the wife. Though I do feel some of it was probably scripted just to give the audience someone to identify with and provide some sort of comic relief to the whole situation. And though she did whine a lot about the coffee I was really surprised to see her give up her makeup so easily…..I have two sisters, and that would have been the deal-breaker for them.

  2. Amanda says:

    I too agree about the wife. Caffeine withdrawal is a legitimate response and it must have been hard for her to give up her coffee from 4 shots of espresso to none at all. She brought more of a gravity to the situation rather than all happiness and fairytale.

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