No Impact Man
I think we all have asked ourselves the question, is it really possible? No electricity, no trash, consuming only sustainable goods. It is a constant question that environmentalists ask themselves. People often think that being sustainable means reverting back to the caveman days. The blog No Impact Man started with a challenge by the author to pursue the answer to this question. The author Colin Beavan decided to try and see if he and his family could achieve this while living in the middle of New York City. He set a goal to live a no net impact life for one year. In a post about his philosophy he states; “The philosophy is based not only on restricting consumption but on changing what is consumed so that it actually helps or at least does not hinder the world.” Once the challenge was over he created such a large interactive community he continues to post about environmental topics and continuously promotes the ‘No Impact’ philosophy.
Why we connect with Colin Beavan and his family?
“Colin is a liberal who got tired of listening to himself complain about the world without ever actually doing anything about it…” He and his family are the average family, they started out just as much an American consumer as the rest of us. His wife especially had a difficult time adjusting to no Starbucks, Spices, or Washing Machines for a year. In the first blog entry, day one, they begin to realize just how difficult the task of no trash is. Anyone who reads the blog will begin to see just how much we throw away and waste.His writing style allows you to see his struggles throughout his process. You hear his emotions whether it be frustration, love, joy, connectedness or him having an epiphany. He consistently blogged about his journey through his one year of ‘No Impact.’ Currently he continues to blog new issues about once or twice every month. This has created a dedicated following. Personal story sharing creates an appeal to pathos, or emotions, and the readers are drawn in wanting to know how their year of no net impact works. He writes in a style that is very casual, yet still academic and informative. In addition to the blog he wrote a book No Impact Man, and was in a film about his journey. Within his writing he creates activism and brings the attention to many issues people were unaware of. He uses other well known sources and is very logical in his presentation of information. He uses logos in his writing, which shows the logic to support his claims. All of these combined is a utilization of ethos, or credibility of the author, and we can see that he is worth respecting and listening to. He is an authority figure and a guide on those who want to live green.
A strong goal
Sustainability is talked about in environmental blogs and in mass media but Colin truly embodies sustainable. The mainstream mentioned that Colin and his family were doing this but many people viewed it as too far and extreme. He has gotten criticized as being the crazy family living like cavemen. His approach is not mainstream and attracts a lot of readers.
No Impact Man has an extensive following on his blog including 1,751 facebook fans. The blog has generated a large discussion about living green and while many people were skeptical of his goal it created even more discussion. The community is very active in participating in giving feedback and their thoughts. This is because the community is very passionate about the topic.
Blogs allow for anyone, and everyone to participate in the discussion. People from all over the world can come together to discuss what they believe, and what can be done for the environment, and no one will be there to say ‘no sorry our contributors don’t like what you have you say.” This blog creates a Community where one can discuss their beliefs. Barlow, the author of Blogging America: The New Public Sphere discusses the different aspects of blogs and how they are the new form of academic discourse. Barlow discusses the idea of the public sphere, which is a place people can come together and discuss their ideas. The blogging community comments on the blogposts when they believe they can add to or share their opinions on the subject. Colin Beavan has a diverse audience of readers. Some, like him, are trying to live as sustainable as they can and share their experiences with him to give him and his family new ideas. Other readers criticize him and his beliefs. One comment was over 500 words of bashing the idea of global warming and mocking the liberals and claiming that ‘trees and vegetation feed off CO2 it benefits them’. His readers have very different values; the majority of comments are supporting the sustainable idea and debate how to act upon that, some do not believe that humans are creating global warming, but still believe that we should consume less, while a few describe him a liberal trying to change the way we live.
With such a wide range of views and opinions the discourse on the blog can get rather intense and often unprofessional. In order to keep the blog as a friendly place where all can express their opinions in a respectable manner Colin asked his followers to follow his “Guidelines for Discussion.” He reminds his readers that the comment section of the blog provides a forum for discussion of positive change, where all should be respectful of those with different views. He warns that comments will be deleted that do not adhere to his guidelines.
Discussion brings ideas
Many people find environmental topics very controversial. It is also a very rapidly developing area of study with new information being discovered every day. Having active participants on his blog shows that the sharing of knowledge can enlighten people with new ideas, or inspire them to learn more. In addition to the discussion on ‘No Impact Man’ Colin uses hypertext to link to other websites describing more in depth the topic he posted about. On his sidebar he lists other blogs he recommends, links, and organizations he loves. All of these continue the dialogue on environmental sustainability. They enable the reader to become active and participate towards their goals. No Impact Man adds to the greater discourse community about being sustainable. It allows for innovation and the sharing of ideas to further it. Colin’s blog adds to the larger discussion of environmental issues.
What you can do
From reading this blog you can start to incorporate little things into your life. The blog’s design is set up for optimum navigation. He links you to the No Impact Project, which is how you can get involved, as well as links to his book and film. If you click on his Background page he lists a collection of posts that were from the beginning of his blog from 2007. I encourage all of you to read some of his entries and challenge yourself to participate in the week challenge to live no net impact. The video below describes how you can get involved!
Will you take the challenge to go one week with no net impact?
“The future will be green, or not at all. This truth lies at the heart of humankind’s most pressing challenge: to learn to live in harmony with the Earth on a genuinely sustainable basis.”
~Sir Jonathon Porritt