No Impact Man

MSNBC.com ran this article today about a family who lives in NYC yet swore off polluting for a year. The article is obviously slanted in favor of the family’s choices, but is still does enough reporting to paint a picture.

The family basically stopped using any electrical power that was not essential. No extra lights, no dishwasher, no TV. As it turned out, no problems. The family found that they enjoyed the adventure of going places and talking with people. These real-life experiences gave them more fulfillment than their reality-tv life did before.

Still, the idea has some problems. 1) It’s not practical for most of us – we live too far from work to bike. 2) We don’t work as a writers – so we have jobs to do that require certain activities (like eating out for business?) that are incompatible with this ‘utopian’ lifestyle. Those are just some of the problems.

Some strengths strike me too. The little girl enjoyed the composting experience, learning about natural processes. She also enjoyed going outside instead of being inside. The family probably lost weight – eating better and getting more exercise. The 2 adults found that the extra conversation time with no TV was a huge blessing.

So will I do this? No. I already have made some big steps. We (as a family of 3) only produce about 13 gallons of trash a week (the family in the article produces about 10 now). The rest is recycled or composted. We currently use very little power for a house that is our size (and we live in a smaller than average house). While I don’t drive a hybrid, my 9 year old vehicle gets better gas mileage than most new cars, and keeping it means one less vehicle in the landfill (which is where cash for clunkers ended up).

The article gives no real mention of motivation for the family doing this. I have a feeling that a book deal, and movie deal were probably motivation. But, as self-proclaimed liberals, this is probably something that they feel will help them get their message out. I come at the issue from another angle. For me, the earth is God’s creation and for that reason it is worthy of respect. So, I want to honor God’s earth as a matter of worship.

The author of the article seems to be pushing an agenda for large scale social mandated changes. They make a comment which implies a need for a national high-speed rail system which his cheap. Sign me up. The problem is change is not cheap. Additionally, the presence of infrastructure does not guarantee usage. The author doesn’t think that change affected on the individual level will suffice. Contrary to that opinion, I think that change must begin at the individual level. Only then can a social change be legitimate, and truly accepted.

3 comments on “Green Utopia – Can/Should We Do It?

  • Thats pretty interesting. I’m sure a big motivation was a book/ movie deal like you mentioned…but that is still a pretty big step to take. I heard about the cash for clunkers…did it never occur to them that the pollution they save by getting crappy cars off the road is only being transferred to a landfill….probably doesn’t help all that much haha.

  • I was wondering if you would be willing to review “Beauty of the Lord”, a book my neighbor wrote about environmental theology. He’s not very adept at the internet, so I’m helping him find bloggers willing to review his book to get the word out. I’d be glad to mail you a copy of the book if you’re willing to review it — an honest review, of course, even if you hate it. 🙂 You can read a bit about his book online at http://www.creeksidepress.com/beauty.html.

    Please let me know if you’re interested. Thank you!

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