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Food on Film: No Impact Man

By Amanda Yates, April 1, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Amanda Yates

filmfestheaderJackie Shibles is our randomly selected winner of the $25 gift card. Thanks everyone for your entries!

Have you seen No Impact Man?  Read on for a chance to win a $25 gift card!

Earth Month officially starts today and in honor of our Let’s Retake Our Plates Film Series, we asked film buff Team Members to review some of the films being shown. Check out the local listings of films in your area.

laurenTeam Member Lauren Craig, Associate Marketing Coordinator for our Rocky Mountain region, is a chef at heart. She loves to read about food, eat from her garden and experiment with new and exciting flavors. Here's what she thought of No Impact Man.

No Impact Man

To set out on the quest that Colin Beavan did for a year seems impossible, as does being his resistant wife amidst the dramatic changes. In No Impact Man, we get to see a family transform their lives for a year in an effort to make as little impact on the planet as possible. I think the movie finds a good balance between calling attention to our often high maintenance lifestyles and developing a good, humorous family story.  It made me examine my own life to see how I could make simple changes to move toward a more balanced eco-lifestyle, and it also made me realize how little I have done to live a life where I make a small environmental footprint, compared to all that is possible.  Then again, I don’t have the luxury of living in downtown New York, where you can easily get around and where local organic farm stands are a dime a dozen. What I enjoyed most about the movie was watching Colin’s wife adapt to his new lifestyle.  Initially, she was a cynical skeptic, which is how most people would act in the situation, but then she realizes that some of Colin’s changes actually make her feel better and live better.  Overall, the movie sheds a good light on the reality of making these changes, showing the true highs and lows, providing a clear message that we can all do more to tread lightly.  What I didn’t enjoy so much about the movie is that it takes place in downtown New York, with an affluent family that can afford the price and convenience that this lifestyle can cost.  I know that personally, I don’t have the time to prepare an environmentally conscious meal three times a day, nor can I walk to work or to get groceries.  For this reason, I feel that it resonates as being somewhat realistic with a small audience and doesn’t have the widespread appeal that I had hoped for.
What do you think about No Impact ManPost a review by April 7th, and you’ll get a chance to win a $25 gift card!




Erin from Long Island says ...
I agree the message of the movie was great, but hard to apply to the general public. I live in the suburbs of NYC, and a lot of the conviniences, like farmers markets everywhere and easy access public transportation, are not a reality. I do plan to take on some of the changes he did in the movie. Something is better then nothing!
04/01/2010 4:38:22 AM CDT
Nadia says ...
I hate to sound redundant but I'm in the same boat as Erin and Lauren. Although the No Impact family is an inspiration, they live in NYC - a city where farmer's markets are already a stronghold, a city where mass transit is already well-established. I currently live in Miami and although I bike to my gym and to the nearest farmer's markets, I have to drive most places. This city is spread out, not condensed like NYC. It was, however, great to see some of the changes that I'd like to make implemented. The main one is going paperless. I don't really see myself not using toilet paper, but I've been thinking about losing the paper towels in the kitchen for a while. This movie definitely sets the tone for being able to successfully make some changes to our city dwelling lives.
04/01/2010 7:14:41 AM CDT
wendy says ...
what a fantastic concept- like the man who lived biblically, or the woman who abandoned buying goods from China, these explorers give us a glimpse of the thousands of ways we can embrace ourselves and be better partners with our selves, our community, and our earth. I only watched the trailer but plan to see the movie soon!
04/01/2010 8:05:51 AM CDT
Michelle says ...
I found it interesting but not truly practical for those of us on limited incomes and who live in areas where travel requires a car of one's own.
04/01/2010 8:09:32 AM CDT
Danielle Major says ...
I thought No Impact man was great. His wife really had to give up everything that made her life easy to follow this idea. I think more people should try it, maybe not go the full year, just start out with a week and add more if they can. I think he had a great idea and the fact that it work but was hard showed the reality of doing an experiment. He was living everyday fresh. Going to local markets to get food, throwing out the television, not only did he save electric, but he lost weight and gained more time with his family. Amazing movie more people should watch.
04/01/2010 8:35:27 AM CDT
Sue Swyt says ...
An inspiration! I didn't realized how much more I could do until I saw this film, and all the resources around me because I'm NOT stuck in a cramped NY apartment. It inspired get involved in my car-centric suburban city's effort at multi-modal transport and be volunteer coordinator at a drop off point for my local CSA. Crazy busy? Yes, but I met many more like-minded foodies and work contacts and I've ended up with the better part of the bargain. We live in a suburban home, and we host a natural garden tour where we demonstrate our rainbarrels, composters, solartube skylights, kitchen garden, native landscaping, umbrella clothes hanger ("solar dryer"), geothermal heating/cooling, recycled deck and furniture. The purpose was to inspire others but instead we always hear how overwhelming it all seemed. Then we shared our secret: we're lazy. We've done this all gradually, acclimated, then added one more thing. What used to seem a new and difficult is now an everyday habit, and is uniformly easier, cheaper or more convenient than the non-green method. This movie pushed us to go even greener and tackle something new. If this movie makes you feel overwhelmed, just pick one thing and try it. Bike once this week. Bring your cloth bags with you on this shopping trip. Don't limit yourself by what you can't do, concentrate on what you can. Be No Impact Man "lite".
04/01/2010 10:10:09 AM CDT
bonnie corliss says ...
I thought it brought up some points I could adopt & some I already do (like cloth grocery bags). Like stated before me, I don't live in NYC, so I have to drive to most places. The movie is interesting though, in that it makes you think.
04/01/2010 3:04:19 PM CDT
jacqueline dean says ...
Don't we all give up something in our lives any way. outstanding and flexible to one's own way..
04/02/2010 8:41:44 AM CDT
Natalie says ...
I think it would be very interesting to watch and get some ideas from, we take so much for granted everyday. I try so hard to change small things, I never even thought of getting rid of papertowels and how much of an impact that small change would make. I would never be able to give up my cosmetics though... ever.
04/02/2010 8:47:20 AM CDT
karen barnes says ...
Wonderful concept. There is always ONE more thing you can do to help our planet live. I recycle everything, I compost outside and with worms inside, I have a compact car, my husband bikes to work during the summer and fall...we try to do a lot.No impact man proves it. I wonder where they are at now in their lives? Are they still continuing most of the day to day low impact ideas. Would love to know.I think I am inspired to do this for a week and see how it goes! No computers, tv, lights, trash (might have to keep the fridge and heat for health purposes though!!), cars etc. Go green!!
04/02/2010 8:49:03 AM CDT
Pamela says ...
I would describe this documentary as fresh and different! Purely on an entertainment level, it was satisfying. If I had a choice, I would have even watched a sequal. The best part is, that I learned a thing or two, and found that I now have a wider awarness of things. I hope to find more documetaries like this.
04/02/2010 8:51:22 AM CDT
Christy says ...
This movie sounds really really good! And I love that whole foods will be showing films! Genius idea. I am going to add this to my movies I want to see list on fb/flickster. I know I could def learn some pointers on how to tread lightly and reduce my footprint! I love insirational films!! Thanks for sharing!!!!!!!
04/02/2010 8:59:48 AM CDT
Erin M says ...
Colin's wife made the movie for me! Her struggles adjusting to the new lifestyle really resonated with me. I loved it when she snuck down to Starbucks for a quadruple espresso and felt her pain when she realized giving up toilet paper was part of the deal. I've already recommended the documentary to a number of friends. Although it's not realistic to expect most people to adopt as many green changes as this family did, it does remind us that there are many small changes we can make that can effect big change.
04/02/2010 9:02:40 AM CDT
Anna Petruolo says ...
This movie is very inspiring, even if we all only do one or two things to improve or quality of living. As a Personal Chef I am always looking for ways to be more environmentally friendly so sometimes movies like this give me the ability to think a little differently. To do what this family did is not an attainable goal for everyone, but I don't think that is what the message is about. In order to get people to listen sometimes we have to be extreme.
04/02/2010 9:06:21 AM CDT
Jackie Shibles says ...
While I learned a few things that I didn't already know about how to live with no impact, I found the film to be unsatisfying. It was great to see his wife come around to the life style, but to watch her suffer wasn't fun. They clearly have some issues to work out together that maybe shouldn't have been on camera. As the wife says, it's called 'no impact man' but includes the whole family. I think it would have been better if it was just one man. He makes a great point about one thing; It's not about taking away everything that makes an impact, it's about figuring out how to have the same things, with less impact. His main example was the solar panel. This, to me, should have been the main message of the film. Being an environmentally conscious person myself, it's become apparent that people are not going to lessen their "need" for convenience. We need to put out brains and money into coming up with no impact ways of doing things rather than taking things away. The experiment, while being a great idea, was a bit far fetched. Though, I gave the film 3 stars on netflix (it's streaming right now, btw), I hope that 'no impact man' will make a great impact on people, for the better.
04/02/2010 9:21:46 AM CDT
Rosie says ...
I live in Atlanta and it would be hard to implement all the changes. However, I agree with the message. I have been implementing changes such as no electric dryer and purchasing detergent and cleaning products that are good for the environment. It was hard to adjust but I'm glad I did it. I have been taking other simple actions like bringing my own bags to the grocery store, no plastic water bottles, recycling as much as I can, etc. I will continue to look for other ways to support the environment that are appropriate to my living situation.
04/02/2010 9:45:16 AM CDT
Leyla Ozgur says ...
Thanks for letting us know about this film; it sounds really interesting and inspiring. I liked in the end, when they talk about other ways they can look at the year, ie other benefits that they've had.
04/02/2010 9:53:49 AM CDT
franki/LoVE says ...
so i dont have a television (havent for years now) i watched this doc on netflix and had very mixed opinions. bottom line "his project" was still all about him in everyway and although there was excellent points made and things learned by many that made the film worth producing i still felt a tad confused by his intentions. as someone who raised 3 ... See moresons in the heart of orange county california and portland oregon . . and still managed no television, for a long time no computer even, candle light a majority of the time and many more of what was touched on, i think a film about how many many many others are living this way ALREADY without a project book or any other motivation other than their intention to do right by our earth and the people in it and life quality, might have made more of an example impact than this, i might be wrong but it is my opinion to state . . . smiles!!
04/02/2010 9:59:27 AM CDT
Alicia Webster says ...
I stumbled upon this book via Business Week. I have a subscription, and there was an article in one of my issues that was written by the wife of the author, Michelle Conlin. Conlin is an editor at Business Week, but was also a willing, but sometimes not an entirely enthusiastic, participant in Beavan's No Impact Project. I could say that the purpose of the project was to reduce this particular family's carbon footprint to almost zero, but that would be oversimplifying, and would minimize the dozens of other equally important goals that one can find in this book. I love, love, love this book. And I am not even a liberal, but this book offers such a wide spectrum of information, knowledge, and tried-and-true applications for living the eco-life, that the reader is bound to find several points with which to identify regardless of where one falls politically. Beavan was brave and honest about what he was able to accomplish, where he believes that he fell short, and what was reasonable and unreasonable to expect from his wife and young child as they charted this year-long course together. I feel that Beavan was more than straightforward about the fact that this project was a little more difficult in some of the phases than he had originally anticipated, but he and his wife soldiered on and discovered, at least for themselves, what their personal limits were in each of the stages of the project. Bravo to Conlin, for giving her husband a wide berth on those rare occasions, when Beavan himself, thought that he might have gone too far in the name of rule-following rigidity. I was inspired by the original article in Business Week(written by Conlin), and I was twice as inspired by this gem of a book(by Beavan). I am am so thrilled that I asked for it for Christmas(thanks, Honey!), because it is worthy of rereading again and again. I have already made changes as a result of reading this book, but No Impact Man's greatest value is that it causes the reader to think differently about the deeper issues, and how one's life might better reflect the values that one supposedly holds. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone.
04/02/2010 11:37:50 AM CDT
Belle says ...
I'm excited to see this movie, learn from it, and adapt these habits. I'm inspired and would like to make as little an impact as possible. Awesome. -Belle.
04/02/2010 12:38:25 PM CDT
Sharon Casey says ...
Following the film I was left with excitement for the change that this family experienced together. Not only did they grow individually, but the whole family took it upon themselves to create change. If each one of us did our small part by eradicating some of the extraneous habits we all have, imagine how quickly our waste would go down. I live in Seattle right now and the amount of trash I create has decreased significantly because the city has yard waste containers that are alongside your recycling bin. I hope that each city in America will begin their own compost in order to give back to the Earth instead of creating a landfill that will do no good for anyone.
04/02/2010 5:50:49 PM CDT
Renata Rogers says ...
So great! We need more of these types of movies!
04/03/2010 6:56:01 AM CDT
BevGomes says ...
Loved the trailer, must see the movie.
04/03/2010 9:09:19 AM CDT
Lex Fry says ...
great inspiration...that we can each takes some steps, a few steps, any steps...and make life better for all.
04/03/2010 9:25:55 AM CDT
InnLing says ...
I understand the idealist view that Colin had for this to work. But it's hard for many to change their lifestyles. Like some of the comments say they can't NOT use their car for commuting to places. The truth is that it CAN be done. Because I used to train for marathons, I know that there are few places you can't get to by foot. And if you can get there by foot, you can get there by bike. There certainly are some extreme ideas in the movie, but the good thing is that people are more conscientious of the environment. And many are taking small steps in creating a better environment. I rented an apt for 7 months and when I moved out, I counted over 115 plastic grocery bags in my home. I called around thrift shops to give away for their shoppers but most didn't need them. I eventually gave them to The Salvation Army. But that was ALOT of grocery bags. And so many places double bag when you really don't need them. I would love to be able to live a no impact life, but I could not deal with the relationship stress with my spouse or my family.
04/03/2010 10:13:11 PM CDT