The 2009 documentary, “No Impact Man”, left a very good impression on me, in the sense of environmental awareness.  The movie was very effective, I feel, in setting a different tone or mood when it comes to being environmentally conscience, among other things.  “No Impact Man” follows the life of idealist Colin Beavan, followed by his often-reluctant wife and his innocently oblivious daughter, up to and including a full year of whole-heartedly striving for independence from common items and privileges most noted for energy wasting.

I felt that the movie was very successful in getting the appropriate message across.  What Colin was doing in his efforts to reduce his own and his family’s impact on the world was, albeit somewhat extreme, not, in any sense, a new concept.  However, the documentary showed a very human side to a group of individual’s very strong effort at lessening their consumption, away from the quasi-political attempts of a majority of environmentalists.  The use of humor in the documentary, whether intentional or not (“not” most often being from the sheer distress and shock of Colin’s wife Michelle), was a very intelligent way of reaching the audiences watching these events unfold.  By the end of the documentary, you feel very strongly, or at least empathize with, about Colin, his family, and the actions, or mostly in-actions, that they encountered.

My own personal reaction to the film is very similar to Colin’s reaction to the problem he faced in deciding to undertake this huge project.  I personally feel that people in general, whether through laziness, ignorance, or just not caring, are extremely wasteful, myself included.  I am in no way saying that it is either practical or healthy to jump into the extremes that Colin did, but gradually coming to a point where he does accomplish most of what he set out for is extremely noble and ultimately obtainable.

As far as myself is concerned, I am definitely aware of how wasteful I can be.  The one instance in which I find myself particularly careless is the habit in which I’ve become accustomed to wasting plastic cups, plates, and paper towels (most notably the paper towels).  I didn’t even have to see “No Impact Man” to come to the realization that I’ve been more than somewhat negligent of these items.  For a while, I’ve been planning on how to cut back on using these things, which, have been, quite honestly, taken for granted.  Especially as an artist, I’ve noticed how much I’ve been burning through paper towels, to the point where it has bothered my sense of mind.  Fortunately, I know of several ways in which to combat this wastefulness.  As far as cups are concerned, I can, and have already purchased, a reusable, nearly indestructible cup that I can re-use over and over.  To solve the plate issue, I can use the same ideas for the cups and just re-use real plates and bowls.  If I carried around simple cloth napkins and towels that would pretty much solve the paper towel problem.  For all that to work however, I need to grow internally as well, simply by not being so lazy when it comes to washing these re-usable plates, cups, and towels.  Sometimes, it is just as simple as not being lazy.

Ryan Schnee



3 responses »

  1. Tim L. says:

    I agree on the wastefulness. It’s become ingrained in our culture…seems like convenience always comes with a side of waste. And convenience is one of the hugest selling points of all daily use products on the market.

    I have a Keurig coffee maker in my room for all of those Ringling all-nighters. It requires a special sealed plastic cup with one serving of coffee inside. It’s extremely convenient and there’s a plethora of coffee flavors to choose from, however, those cups are one-use only. I have been just throwing them away, but now I think I will open them up to empty the contents so that I can begin recycling the plastic part of the cups.

    It’s not a huge contribution to the cause, but like you, the film has made me want to make minor adjustments to my lifestyle in the hopes of making less of an impact on the environment.

  2. Maggie Lee says:

    I agree with Tim L about the film influencing me to make minor adjustments to my lifestyle. I am already pretty eco friendly, but I could still improve! I want to buy one of those indestructible coffee cups so I can quit wasting those paper ones they give you every time I get a coffee or tea from a coffee shop.

    • Ryan Schnee says:

      I know. I have a Tervis Tumbler, one of those indestructible cups, and I really love it. Heat it up, freeze it, do whatever you want with it and you are still doing something to reduce personal waste. It really is an awesome thing and I can see always using it.

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