For a couple years now, I’ve had Colin Beavan’s blog – No Impact Man – on my blogroll. His site is both interesting and inspiring, and I’ve always enjoyed it. I just finished reading his new book (also titled No Impact Man), and highly recommend it. The focus of the book is on Colin and his wife and daughter as they work to eliminate as much as possible of their carbon footprint for a year. No transportation except their feet and bikes, no food that isn’t local, no electricity in their apartment, no elevators… it’s quite an impressive feat. Especially since they live in a 9th floor apartment in NYC.
The book is inspiring from an environmental perspective, but my frugal side was inspired too. Colin and his family transform themselves from a typical TV-watching, Prada-buying (well, maybe that part isn’t typical…), taxi-riding, Starbucks-drinking family to something much more simple, and much more pleasant. In the process, they stop buying new things (thrift stores are fair game, as used merchandise is always a green option), start riding bikes and walking everywhere, give up their TV and hang out playing games in the evening, and gather around the kitchen to prepare fresh local food rather than order take out. All told, it seems that nearly all of the changes they made would have a dual effect of both lessening their environmental impact, and also reducing their spending.
The book is far more interesting than just a simple journal of their progress or a how-to list for environmental action. Colin does an excellent job of weaving introspective musings in between the details of his life, and the result is a more thought-provoking read than many of the environmentally-focused books I’ve read. If you’re looking for a book that will give you some ideas and inspiration for living a life that is a bit more gentle – on yourself, your wallet, and the planet – I definitely recommend No Impact Man.