I recently viewed the film “No Impact Man” about a NYC family that tries to live environmentally friendly and off the grid.  A number of things struck me about the documentary film.

First, many of the projects taken on by the family are commonplace in the lives of many Vermonters: buying in the raw and bulk section of the grocery store, going to the farmers market, having no TV, using washable diapers, eating vegetarian and local, limiting the purchase of new items and reusing old items, visiting farms, having no paper towels, using refillable cleaning bottles, using natural cleaning supplies, and cooking.

Second, some things would be very difficult to give up: heat (even though we keep our house at 58 degrees in the winter), washing machine, electricity, car, tea, toliet paper (!).

Third, the film provoked a number of interesting thoughts:

  • What is the future if mass transit in the U.S.?  Or any types of non-car transit in rural states like Vermont?
  • Can we regulate junk mail?
  • How can we make our employers and business more environmentally friendly?
  • Is a regulatory model that focuses on changing individual behavior possible or desirable in the U.S.?
  • How do we need to deal with the negative costs of American consumption?

Finally, if you watch the film, you’ll notice that the family receives a lot of backlash for their choices, yet their choices in the end, if anything, make them healthier, happier, and more family oriented.  Do the trappings of modernity make us live at such a pace that will miss the simple pleasures in life?  For an answer, watch the scene where the family “washes” their laundry in the bathtub by rolling up their pant legs and stomp the laundry like grapes.

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