"No Impact Man" charts U.S. couple's climate fight

Thu Sep 3, 2009 2:06pm EDT
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Colin Beavan so despaired at a lack of political action on climate change that he decided to see what difference he could make by living for a year with as little impact on the environment as possible.

Beavan and his reluctant wife, Michelle Conlin, drastically changed their lifestyle, doing their best not to create trash, cause carbon dioxide emissions or pour toxins into the water supply and by buying only local produce.

The New Yorkers rode bikes to get places, walked up and down the nine flights of stairs to their apartment and cooked meals with food from a local farmers market. They also got rid of their television and bought no new clothes for themselves or their 18-month-old daughter Isabella.

Six months into the year, came the most dramatic step -- they switched off the electricity.

"It wasn't about being an environmentalist and then doing it. It was about just being a concerned citizen and stumbling forward," Beavan, author of two history books, said in an interview.

"We jumped in without knowing what we were doing," added Conlin, a writer for BusinessWeek.

Beavan has described his experiences in a book, "No Impact Man." A documentary of the same name, directed by Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein, will be released in the United States this month.

"Just doing a little bit is not actually enough," said Beavan, who also blogged about his year-long experiment. "If we are essentially going to change the planet ... we have to consider changing our way of life."   Continued...

<p>Colin Beavan and his wife Michelle Conlin, the subjects of a documentary titled "No Impact Man", pose for a portrait in New York August 28, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>