Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

May 26, 2007

No Impact Man, green or gr$$n

A lot of the criticism around the "no impact man" project comes from the possibility of him earning a living off of it. Or in some way benefitting it. This is something that I have noticed in a lot of the different comments that have been made to his postings since I have been reading it. I particularly noticed a lot of it during the period right after his televisions appearances. Today it showed up again, in his posting about taking matters into your own hands, it was again brought up by a commenter to the site that;

"If you really care about the earth, then donate the profits of your upcoming book to a worthy charity. Otherwise, stop pretending that you care about the environment more than the almighty dollar."

I may be overestimating myself and my powers of perception, but I don't see what one has to do with the other. We have all heard the mantra about the evil corporate entities out there corrupting everything they touch. To the extent that there are businesses out there with no concern towards anyone or anything but the shareholders and the bottom line this is based in fact. I don't believe that Colin falls into that catagory. The thing I see as a common thread to a lot of the activists and/or very environmentally conscious persons out there is the idea that it is better to be poor and working only for "The Mission", than to be able to make money at the same time as taking a stand for causes that we believe in. So often it is a topic of conversation about companies that are environmentally conscious, or are trying to reduce there footprint on the earth, and these companies are held up as beakons of what is possible, and how things could be(Which I agree, should be the case.) . Even in the same comments section as the one I am referring to here, Patagonia was held up as a positive corporate role model. Are these companies expected to give back the money that they make, or even the money they may save for that matter in order to validate that they do in fact care about the planet? I don't think most of us would argue that point. I certainly would not. If fact, I would argue that by showing that these companies and individuals can make a living, at the same time as having a positive influence on the environment, we will encourage other companies to look to alternatives to the mainstream ways of doing things and could in fact have a still greater influence on the world than they are already.
Do I believe that Colin, the "No Impact Man", is deliberately trying to profit off the environment by drawing attention to his project? No. Do I think that it is beyond the scope of such a thing to happen today. Again, No. In this day and age we have to be discerning with the people or entities that we hold up as role models. Unfortunately I think a lot of people out there are far to fast to believe anything that they are told or see in a soundbite news media, and are far to influenced by what the world says they should care about. But I submit that if a person is genuinely doing something that can influence huge numbers of people to rethink there actions, or to begin to take steps to reduce their impact, and that person is able to make a buck at the same time while maintaining their integrity, good for them.
Please share your thoughts with me, I'd love to know if I am alone on this one?


Da Man said...

Hi P-

Thanks for checking out my blog. I like your "low impact" mantra--something I try to live by.

I wanted to point out that you've misinterpreted my remarks. What I was trying to say is that ordinary people, like you and me, can easily see that the actions of "No Impact Man" are a stunt. Thus, we, the great unwashed, are unlikely to be affected by what he does. Case in point: There's no lesson to be learned from not using toilet paper for a year.

On the other hand, it's the Limousine Liberals (in NY, SF, etc.) who ooh-and-ahh over "No Impact Man", yet do nothing to alter their wasteful habits. I see their hypocracy on display constantly in SF. Thus, the effect that "No Impact Man" will have on most Americans is minimal, at best.

What I find most useful are real-life examples of "low impact" lifestyles. "Low impact" on my wallet, that is. And ones that real people can emulate fairly easily. Like recycling alumninum cans and bottles (I personally recycle about 30,000 per year to supplement my income). And dressing my children exclusively in hand-me-downs or used clothing.

My electric bill is typically $15-20 per month, although I have gotten it down to $10 at times. So why would I need to buy a houseful of CFL light bulbs? I'm also not affected much by the high price of gasoline, because I typically drive fewer than 100 miles a month as a result of using mass transit. And on my blog, you can see that I also grow my own vegetables.

But I don't do all of this as an environmental statement. I do it to save money. Because it makes financial sense. And the veggies taste good.

With the money I save, I can afford to take my kids on daytrips to places like the zoo or aquarium every 2 or 3 months. And every once in a while, a 48-hour family vaction to Disneyland.

I'm not saying that Colin shouldn't make some money from his year-long stunt. I am saying that he should fess up to the true motivations behind his actions, just like I've told you mine.

Thanks for listening.

Gwyn said...

I wish people would get the fuck over criticising NIM and questioning his motives, which are quite clearly disclosed on the left side of his blog!

I find it particularly annoying when people use their computer and internet connections to question his use of the same thing! I always think of that quote - take the plank out of your own eye before you worry about the splinter in someone elses.

I agree with you that demonstrating its possible to live in a green way, in a city, in a capitalist society, without major discomfort (remainiang to be seen!), will probably be the most useful outcome of NIM's project.

I worry that some of NIM's criticizers are more concerned with competing to see who is the greenest of them all, rather than focussing on uniting as a race of people working toward a common goal. Environmentalism isn't a competition for which there are individual prizes, and it doesn't matter whether you are motivated by money, spirituality, or scientific concern, if the effect - living more sustainably - is achieved.

P~ said...

James (da man),
Low impact is not a mantra, it's just a way for me to try out some changes that I have been kicking around. And by the way, it is being participated in by a lot of others and was initially spawned by... you guessed it, discussion that started at No Impact Man.
I may have misunderstood your comments, I may not have, but you are still making assumtions about people and what they are about. You equate the two of us, in saying that we could easily see that his actions are just a stunt. I don't think that they are a stunt. I believe that he genuinely believes in the values he aspouses on his blog. I also believe that he will make money from this project, and may have known from the start that he would make some money off of it by writing a book about it. But I don't believe that that was his sole goal in beggining this project.
I think that you could be a much more positive influence on people by sharing your achievements and experiences and "real life" examples that you find so useful yourself. I have found that life is alot more pleasant when we strive for a more positive way of looking at things, and by trying to tear down someone elses actions you are spreading nothing but contention.
Thanks for the comments.
I'm sure we'll share more in the future.

Yes, there are a lot of people out there that seem to be in a competition to out green everyone else. One of the things that has struck a chord with me about No Impact Man from the start is that while presenting a lot of possibilities and extremes of what can be done, he doesn't admonish anyone for what they may not be doing. I have not even seen any entries where he chastens anyone that is not taking any action at all. The name of this blog is Latin for from possibility to reality, I like to look at things in this respect. I think we will all come together much better if we try to focus on what is possible rather that if you and I are doing as much as someone else.
Thanks for your input, don't be a stranger.

Phelan said...

I have mixed feelings on it. First he went so extreme so quickly. I have never known anyone to be successful at something when they jump in with both feet like that, at least not in the long run. I'm not sure I completely trust his motives, probably because of all the media attention he allows. That doesn't mean he isn't sincere about living such a low impact life, and I am not going to run over there and tell him I think he is a fraud. I still have yet to make up my mind on it.

Unfortunately I have seen others join his bandwagon to gain readers, popularity. I think that bothers me even more than his instant low impact life.

And yet, I give him few thoughts, as I am taking care of my small part of the world, for my own benefits. I have said it before, I am not green, I am salt and I am selfish. So what I think of him, matters not.

P~ said...

I understand your point Phelan. And I certainly see where it could raise questions. I have had my doubts about parts of his experiment, but I belive the net impact of it will be positive. I fall somewhere between green and brown I guess. Green in that I do want to reduce my impact on the world, and not really consume more than I need. Brown, because I like you feel a need to get back to the earth. I love the feel of the earth in my fingers, and the taste of the fuits and veggies it yields me. As I've said, his project may be a sham, and it may only be to sell books or whatever. I don't believe that at this point, but if I learn differently I would admit it. As far as his instant low impact life, I guess I can relate to it to a certain degree in that When I make up my mind to do something, I go full steam ahead. My blog for instance, I decided I wanted to have one, and I have been dilligent and consistant with it ever since. It was not there one day, and there the next. That's just how I am.
Thanks for your input on this, you make good points.