Campus News

'No Impact Man' Could Impact Your Life

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 4, 2009) – In one year, their "no impact year," the Beavan family of Manhattan deprived the New York landfill of 1,248 takeout containers, 2,190 paper or plastic cups, 572 plastic bags, 4,380 gallons of garbage, 2,184 disposable diapers, and much more.

To research a new book, author Colin Beavan began his No Impact Project in November 2006. A self-proclaimed complacent liberal new to the cause of a sustainable environment and unable to avoid pointing the finger at himself, Beavan decided to take himself, his wife Michelle and their 2-year-old daughter and 4-year-old dog "off the grid" for one year.

No automated transportation, no electricity, no non-local food, no material consumption, no problem, right? Not exactly. The reality was a little messier. Beavan's plan meant no washing machines, so clothes went into a bathtub of soapy water and were stomped on until clean. It meant no espresso for a caffeine junky. It meant no television for news, entertainment and distraction. It meant no taxi, subway or elevator rides; no cosmetics; no new toys; and no toilet paper. To say it was a radical lifestyle change is to diminish the experiment.

Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein’s new documentary film "No Impact Man" gives the audience a front row seat to all the behind-the-scenes trials, turmoil, tirades, trepidation and tribulations of the Beavans' off-the-grid experiment that became a national media sensation.

A special, pre-DVD-release screening of "No Impact Man" is scheduled at University of Kentucky's Worsham Theater at 7 p.m.  Monday, Dec. 7. Followed by a community discussion, the film is free and open to the UK and Lexington communities thanks to the sponsorship and support of the UK College of Education, the UK Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment, the Student Sustainability Council, and UK Greenthumb Environmental Club. For more information, e-mail

Described as a toolkit for a new way of living, Beavan's book, "No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process" is now available in bookstores through FSG Books.

In the book Beavan describes the emotions that drove him to become the No Impact Man, "It was not trash per se that got me. It was the throwing away of things used for less than five minutes without so much as a thought before reaching for the exact same product to use for another five minutes before throwing that away, too. The truth was that every coffee cup and every water bottle in the corner trashcan gave me a tiny micro-twinge of guilt."