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No Impact Man: The Documentary
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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Michelle is clearly a horrible person

Author: from Canada
22 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

honestly, i mostly enjoyed this movie. but i really did not appreciate the way that Michelle was villainized throughout. HORROR OF HORRORS, she works for a financial magazine and wants a second child???? listen - the woman happily discarded most of her worldly possessions & comforts (including cosmetics and TOILET PAPER, COME ON) to help her husband on this (arguably ridiculous) quest and some fat hippie (who, i'm sorry, did not get to look like that by eating organic vegetables all day long) has the audacity to suggest that everything she is doing is negated by her day job. WOW. wow. OK. cool.

also - my boyfriend and i wanted to know how exactly they cleaned their diapers and toilet... cloths. because that was not addressed and i'm pretty sure that they didn't stomp on them in the bath tub.

eta: i am curious as to why they did not address menstruation at all (maybe they did and i missed it?). traditional solutions (pads, tampons) generate a LOT of waste and the packaging is terrible. i know that there are other options, but the average viewer may not have. wonder why it was left out?

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4 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Honest manipulation?

Author: jdesando from United States
19 October 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am so proud of myself for moving to the city and reducing the environmental impact of my car to negligible, yet after seeing No Impact Man, I am chastened by how little I have done to make life sustainable on this planet. Colin , Michelle, and their baby Isabella spend a year in New York City living with worms that make compost, no electricity, no toilet paper, and no Starbucks, just to name a few of the daily items I could not live without.

This green documentary is the most honest story you could see about people trying to be environmentally responsible and partner-parent responsible at the same time. The former seems easy compared with the challenges of finding common ground between a partner whose dream is the ascetic year (Colin, a blogger and activist)) and a partner, Michelle, a journalist for Business Week (her colleagues call her and Colin "bourgeois f____s"), who has been a retail and Starbucks addict. They've decided to live in Manhattan for a year making no environmental impact.

Lest you find great sympathy for the sufferers, remember Colin is aiming toward a book at the end of the experiment, and Michelle may be getting more satisfaction in converting to the spare life than Colin does in living his dream.

She is the part of the documentary I find most worth watching as she grows from a plain-looking, nerdy writer to a more attractive advocate for the green life, not without kicking and screaming early on. Her transformation is worthy of a round character in a short story, but then she and Colin are co-producers and thereby not above suspicion for manipulating the production.

The couple's relationship nicely parallels the project itself, going from initial skepticism, struggle to accept, and ultimate adjustment to the realities of the state in which little has been compromised but much gained in personal growth. Without the intrusively annoying presence of a Michael Moore, No Impact Man is a seemingly honest depiction of the joys and hardships we all experience on the journey to a sustainable, non-impact life.

Whether or not the drama is contrived, the message that we all need to be involved is true enough.

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5 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

What is environmental good?

Author: jhuni_x from United States
20 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What is environmental good? I would start out the movie with talking about this question. The Earth and the environment do not have interests and they do not care, as such we should define some sort of criteria so that we are not going at these things arbitrarily.

The movie itself focuses on the life of Colin Beavan - the "no impact man" and to a lesser extent his wife Michelle Conlin. They embark on a year-long adventure to try and adopt a lifestyle that has no "negative impact" on the environment which brings me back to the question - how do you determine if your environmental impact is good/bad?

One of the first things they do in their adventure is they change their eating habits and they become lacto-ovo vegetarians (they keep eggs & diary). Environmentally speaking, if the cows/chickens are going to be there anyways to produce eggs/diary how does not eating their meat produce some sort of "environmental good"?

The animals are going to be there, burning 90% of their energy as body heat, producing large amounts of excrement that ultimately gets into our rivers, and consuming huge amounts of water. In addition, raw milk has been deemed unsafe so they were probably consuming diary in this movie that was cooked which wastes electricity. I think by merely being vegan without cutting out many of your other habits, it wouldn't be too hard to have a negative impact that matches that of this family.

Eventually they spend energy to transport themselves to a distant diary farm. It is funny though because the diary farmer seems to imply that he cares about his cows and he "doesn't want them to die" yet he keeps them in tiny stalls, he undoubtedly drugs them to make them think they are pregnant, and he steals their milk which naturally is meant to go to baby cows. The natural way to go is if the mother, Michelle Conlin, produced her own breast milk and fed that to her children.

Moving on, at around six months they start cutting out electricity except for perhaps the cameras that were filming this movie. They end up using lots and lots of candles for light - producing that many candles most certainly takes a toll on the environment anyways, so I don't see what exactly they were trying to get at here. Besides this, there are solar-powered flashlights available for as cheap as 50$ that can last up to 20 years, such a flashlight would be a superior option for the environment.

I wouldn't tell anyone to give up electricity and to entirely give up using a computer and other modern technological luxuries, and they don't even give it up in this movie they just employ a "bourgeoisie solution." I call it a bourgeoisie solution because alternative energy like solar panels are only financially available to governments, corporations, and rich people. They end off the movie in a potentially insulting manner, implying that people are too shallow and self-interested to change their consumption patterns. If people could afford to purchase solar panels and other luxuries I am sure they would and I honestly think most people care about the environment they are just left powerless by the system.

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