Mindful Metropolis April 2010 : Page 20

one on one SOME- TIMES LESS IS MORE No Impact Man, Colin Beavan talks about consumption, fi nding ecological balance and how we can all make an impact INTERVIEW BY RENEE JABLONSKI A re you ready to do more than change a light bulb this Earth Day? How about a little lifestyle change? If you think it has to be hard, time-consuming or means hav- ing less, think diff erently. T ink more. Colin Beavan, author of the recently released book and documentary, “No Impact Man,” has been making media headlines and local appearances touting his unconventional year- long experiment in environmental living. For one year, Beavan sought out ways to decrease his family’s carbon footprint (wife and toddler included) by foregoing what most of us would consider necessities and coveted conveniences. T ese included the use of a refrigerator, wash- ing machine, dishwasher, air conditioner, car, public transportation and most personal care products—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Surprisingly, what Beavan discovered was that instead of having less—he had more. “I found that if I transported myself by bicycle, I got more fi t; if I ate local food by farmers who I trusted, I ended up being healthier; by cut- ting out excessive use of electricity around the house, we saved a lot of money; by cutting out TV, we spent more time together as a family and the list goes on and on,” says Beavan. We recently sat down with Beavan to talk about how his life has changed and his thoughts on consumption, fi nding ecological balance and how we can all make an impact. 20 APRIL 2010 Can you talk about the changes in your life since November 2006 when all of this started? “No Impact Man” kind of came about out of my frustration and feeling like things weren’t changing—that we weren’t responding to our environmental crisis and, not only that, I felt as though there was nothing that I could do be- cause I felt that the government was so beholden to special interests. I felt powerless and voiceless. Finally I came to a place where I thought, Well maybe I can do something. Even though I embarked on this thing to live as environmen- tally friendly as possible, I guess I felt it was something of a gesture, but that I didn’t have the capacity to be an agent of change. And then I started the lifestyle experiment. I started this blog. And I started to become part of a conversation with lots of other people who were also changing their lifestyles because they were frustrated with the government, and partly be- cause they actually were feeling like there’s also a crisis in our quality of life—in the way that we live. I wrote the book and then kind of came to a place where actually I found that I really do be- lieve in each of our capacities to be an agent of change. In many ways that’s the biggest change for me—believing in our power as people and having faith, not just in myself, but in every- body’s ability to be part of the changes we need to make as a culture.

One On One: Sometimes Less Is More

Renee Jablonski

No Impact Man, Colin Beavan talks about consumption, finding ecological balance and how we can all make an impact. <br /> <br /> Are you ready to do more than change a light bulb this Earth Day? How about a little lifestyle change? If you think it has to be hard, time-consuming or means having less, think differently. Think more.<br /> <br /> Colin Beavan, author of the recently released book and documentary, “No Impact Man,” has been making media headlines and local appearances touting his unconventional yearlong experiment in environmental living. For one year, Beavan sought out ways to decrease his family’s carbon footprint (wife and toddler included) by foregoing what most of us would consider necessities and coveted conveniences.<br /> <br /> These included the use of a refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher, air conditioner, car, public transportation and most personal care products—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.<br /> <br /> Surprisingly, what Beavan discovered was that instead of having less—he had more. “I found that if I transported myself by bicycle, I got more fit; if I ate local food by farmers who I trusted, I ended up being healthier; by cutting out excessive use of electricity around the house, we saved a lot of money; by cutting out TV, we spent more time together as a family and the list goes on and on,” says Beavan.<br /> <br /> We recently sat down with Beavan to talk about how his life has changed and his thoughts on consumption, finding ecological balance and how we can all make an impact.<br /> <br /> Can you talk about the changes in your life since November 2006 when all of this started?<br /> <br /> “No Impact Man” kind of came about out of my frustration and feeling like things weren’t changing—that we weren’t responding to our environmental crisis and, not only that, I felt as though there was nothing that I could do because I felt that the government was so beholden to special interests. I felt powerless and voiceless.<br /> <br /> Finally I came to a place where I thought, Well maybe I can do something. Even though I embarked on this thing to live as environmentally friendly as possible, I guess I felt it was something of a gesture, but that I didn’t have the capacity to be an agent of change.<br /> <br /> And then I started the lifestyle experiment. I started this blog. And I started to become part of a conversation with lots of other people who were also changing their lifestyles because they were frustrated with the government, and partly because they actually were feeling like there’s also a crisis in our quality of life—in the way that we live.<br /> <br /> I wrote the book and then kind of came to a place where actually I found that I really do believe in each of our capacities to be an agent of change. In many ways that’s the biggest change for me—believing in our power as people and having faith, not just in myself, but in everybody’s ability to be part of the changes we need to make as a culture.<br /> <br /> A lot of times people stop themselves from taking some sort of action in their community or in their personal lives because they don’t believe they can make a difference. I often say that, the question is not whether or not you can make a difference, the questions is whether you want to be the type of person who tries to make a difference.<br /> <br /> Are you really suggesting hard-core avoidance and having less?<br /> <br /> I don’t talk about having less. I think that it goes against the human spirit. Really what I’m interested in is having more, but it’s a matter of more what?<br /> <br /> Our economy is predicated on the idea that if we have more stuff then we’ll be happier. But because we’re working so hard, so many of us don’t get to spend enough time with our loved ones; we don’t get to use the talents that we care most about; we don’t get to work in service of any sort of higher calling, so we lack meaning and purpose.<br /> <br /> So the question becomes, is the way we’re living actually making us happy or is it possible that we could emphasize having stuff a little less and emphasize community and relationships a little bit more?<br /> <br /> Should we be putting money into the economy to make it better?<br /> <br /> I would ask, can we make the economy better? The economy as it presently stands is all about the consumption of resources; moving goods and materials from one place to another. We throw them away as quickly as possible and buy more goods. It’s somewhat crazy because it’s destroying the habitat that we depend upon for our health and our happiness and our security. It’s also crazy because we’re working so hard to buy the same thing over and over and over again, and the whole system can turn around and bite you.<br /> <br /> Maybe we should be thinking bigger. Maybe we should be thinking of ways of living, and asking our politicians to think of ways of living, that actually serve us better. There’s no question, as we move from a fossil fuel-based economy to a renewable energy economy, that it’s going to be a difficult transition but I think that there’s a good chance that when we get to the other side we can discover something better.<br /> <br /> What do you say to people who believe that our carbon emissions have a negligible effect on global temperature?<br /> <br /> It doesn’t matter, because the solution to global warming is a renewable energy economy. It’s an economy based on solar, wind, geothermal and what we believe here in the United States about global warming is neither here nor there because the rest of the world believes very firmly that there is global warming and the results of global warming are already devastating lots of people around the world, and they believe that it is anthropogenic—that is to say that it is manmade—and because of that, they want to buy renewable energy. They want technology.<br /> <br /> So here in the United States, whether we believe in global warming or not, it makes sense for us to develop a renewable energy economy because then we can take the technology that we’ve developed and we can sell it around the world and renew our own economy and create jobs here.<br /> <br /> How do you find an ecological balance?<br /> <br /> When you first start to become aware, then you kind of are in this place where you’re flicking on and off the lights, right. And that’s kind of the hard part because you’re in this quandary, but it’s actually really exciting and an important place to be because it shows that you’re awake. You know and you’re measuring and you’re deciding and figuring it out, and you’re aware that you are turning the light on. So many of us are using resources, and we don’t even know that we’re doing it.<br /> <br /> Eventually what happens is you kind of discover the balance for yourself. I kind of figured out my way forward so I’m not in this should I, shouldn’t I, should I, shouldn’t I place anymore. But, it’s an important place to be—it’s part of the process.<br /> <br /> What’s your vision for where we’re headed as a country?<br /> <br /> My book, No Impact Man, really is about a process of me waking up to the possibility that I can make a difference in my community, in my own life, in my country. Here in these United States, although we have a great democracy, we have a great crisis because so few people are involved in our democracy. What I’m hoping is that people will wake up to their own concerns about how we live; about what’s good for us; about what’s good for our planet and let their politicians—be they Democratic or Republican—know that these are issues that we really care about.<br /> <br /> So my vision is a democracy where we’re engaged. The reward of participating in our civic society in that way is that we also get to feel like we’re in charge and we’re not victims. And that’s a wonderful way to live.<br /> <br /> If there’s one thing that you could tell people who want to make a difference, what would that be?<br /> <br /> Trust your capacity to make change. Trust your capacity to make a difference. We often talk about the straw that breaks the camel’s back, but we never talk about the thousands of straws that are already there. What we have to remember is that the reason why a straw breaks the camel’s back is that there’s already thousands upon thousands of other straws already there and it’s that last straw that’s just one too much.<br /> <br /> So every time one of us decides that we’re going to live differently, that we’re going to engage with our politicians differently, that we’re going to talk to our neighbors about our problems differently—we may not get to see the impact of what we’re doing but we have to trust that it’s working and that we’re another straw on the camel’s back. We may not have the privilege of being that last straw that breaks the camel’s back, but that last straw can’t do the trick without the rest of us already being there.<br /> <br /> Read more about this topic at mindful metropolis.com/blog.<br /> <br /> Renee Jablonski is a Chicago-based freelance writer living her beliefs through environmental action. She is co-founder of the GCC Career Network and also works in business and healthcare.<br /> <br /> Get Involved<br /> <br /> See the difference no-impact living can make in your life—try it for a week with the support of others from around the world. To sign up visit noimpactproject.org/experiment<br /> <br /> Join Mindful Metropolis for an intimate, entertaining and truly inspirational look at Beavan’s year-long adventure on April 8 at the MindfuLive! Showing of the documentary “No Impact Man.” For more information, please visit mindfulmetropolis.com/noimpactman<br /> <br /> View the extended interview with Colin Beavan produced by Anya Traisman of Natropolis at mindfulmetropolis.com/blog

Previous Page  Next Page


Publication List
 

Loading