No impact man Essay

We go through our everyday life with little to no awareness of how much impact we have on the environment. Carbon emissions are a global threat that people tend to ignore or push away. At some point we will have to assess how much we are actually contributing to this damage and what we can do to help. This paper looks at the reactions to the impact carbon has on our lives and my contributions to it. The documentary “No Impact Man” is about Colin Beavan, an author who undertook a yearlong project where he, his wife Michelle and his toddler Isabella would attempt to live without making any net impact on the environment. They live in the heart of New York city which is a very massive consumer culture. They had to give up anything that harmed the environment in any way whether directly or even indirectly. This includes things like, no electricity, no toilet paper, no food other than from local farm markets, no meat, no trash, no chemical detergents, no shopping, and no gas-powered transportation. While his intentions meant well, he got a lot of backlash and faced hardships during his “green” year of living. The whole point of the project that Beavan was conducting, was to see what people can and cannot live without. He pushed himself to go green more than any environmentalist would. He hoped that by doing so, people would be made more aware. He tried to tell people that individual actions can help the environment. He stated that If one person changes it is not going to make a difference but if more and more individuals change its going to inspire others and only then will it actually make a difference. A lot of the environmental problems we face today are EVR:2001: Environmental Science Project 2 mainly because of the breakdown of the community. Because without community, people wouldn’t feel accountable to anybody else. People tend to wait for large organizations and governments to solve the environmental problems without actually contributing to the solution. It was mentioned in the documentary that our whole system revolves around the consumer culture, our roads are developed for cars, and bikers are just seen as an inconvenience. Another issue that was mentioned is that we’re a disposable culture, we produce mass products to use and then throw it away, like toilet paper or razors. Thus, Beavan and his family did not use anything disposable to test if we can actually adapt to the alternatives or not. Many people look at the project as some sort of deprivation but in reality, it’s about whether people could live a healthy, fulfilled life without wasting and damaging so many goods and services from the environment. Part of the reason that the family got backlash was because the project reminded people that they were part of the problem which sparked the feeling of guilt. people don’t want to feel responsible or guilty for their actions so they may recycle a few plastic bottles or switch to more energy efficient lightbulbs while politicians take advantage of this, thinking the guilt is enough to cover up the lack of actions being taken. We as a society are so indulged into this modern world where we essentially lose touch with reality, we simply come to a point where we don’t care what goes on in the environment. According to my carbon footprint, I produce 67 tons of carbon dioxide every year, which is only 3% better than average. In travel I am 19% better than average which is alarming considering I drive everywhere, all the time. I also travel internationally a lot and constantly take long flights. That being said, If I am better than average how can there be worse? At home its 25% worse than average because we use a lot of electricity, I often forget to turn the lights off, the AC always has to be cold and the tv plays in the background all day. In terms of food, my family and I consume a lot, from fast food to all types of snacks. It’s no surprise to me that it’s EVR:2001: Environmental Science Project 2 25% worse than average. I shop a lot and buy unnecessary items which is still 31% better than average, but I don’t need most of the things I buy. 67 tons of carbon dioxide for one person is an overwhelming number and I cannot fathom how much carbon dioxide we all produce if most people live in a similar way. According to the “How Green Are You” quiz, I scored a 33. It’s not a surprise as I do very little to actually help the environment. I don’t know anything about recycling, I only buy appliances according to its options and how efficient it is in terms of money. I only buy food if it tastes good not according to how organic it is. I don’t put into consideration if the choices I am making are environmentally friendly or not. Most of my choices are just based on how convenient it is to me. Hence, I barely put any real thought about my actions and how it will actually affect the environment. The documentary made me realize that humans mainly revolve around energy. It made me wonder, at what point of humanity have our lives been driven by energy. How did we go from humans with basic needs to highly consuming beings who constantly butcher the environment? It made me feel ashamed of being part of this consumer culture. While watching the documentary and seeing how the family struggled made me think about all the small details in our lifestyles that run on energy. We can’t have a simple glass of cold water without causing harm. My carbon footprint and the “How Green Are You” quiz shed light on how I live my life. I cause so much environmental damage thinking someone else is accountable to that. If every single person had the same thought process, then who is really accountable for the damage? It makes me feel somewhat responsible for my own actions. In the documentary of “No Impact Man” Beavan stated that the experiment wasn’t to encourage people to adopt this radical lifestyle but to raise awareness. I agree that people need to be more aware of their actions and they should invest in going greener. However, because we are EVR:2001: Environmental Science Project 2 in an era where technological advancements are always taking place, everyone wants to live the best life they can. This includes, shopping, food, cars and other consumer related items. People feel like part of life’s purpose is to strive to keep up with these advancements. Telling people to cut off things they want to save the environment isn’t realistic. Humans strive every day to build up the consumer culture we’ve been developing for years. I agree that action must be taken but I feel like this experiment only makes people value our technologies and our current lifestyle more and not necessarily focus on the main issue of carbon emissions. The documentary made me realize that we all have some potential and investment to actually cut down carbon emissions. But unless there are alternatives to the things we have to give up, then it wouldn’t be the easiest thing. When the family tried to live without electricity, it eventually became a huge inconvenience in their lives. They tried to use the pot in a pot as an alternative to the fridge but that did not work. Its almost impossible to tell people to give up such necessities. The only thing keeping that family sane was the fact that they would re-gain most of the things they had to give up in a matter of time and it’s just for an experiment. However, if we don’t have a green alternative that will make us just as content, then people will not contribute to the change. Overall, I agree with the concept of how individual actions can actually make a difference, but I don’t agree with the fact that it will be realistically implemented in our society. I related a lot to Michelle in the documentary, my willpower to resist the temptations of the consumer culture is very weak. When I get a cup of coffee I never really think about the environmental impact, I just don’t have those calculations in mind. I don’t agree with Beavan when he stated that people should change their lifestyle to save our environment. If we’re addressing the public on a global scale then we have to put in mind that humans are selfish, they want what benefits them. Thus, the better way is to raise awareness is by focusing on the actual EVR:2001: Environmental Science Project 2 negative impacts this damage can have on us as humans and why we should reduce this harm for our own sake. My own carbon emissions absolutely shocked me, how can one person produce this much carbon dioxide, 67 tons is almost 12 times as heavy as an elephant. I do have the feeling of guilt and that I should do something to cut down this number, but to be realistic, I cannot give up anything from my current lifestyle. It’s going to be completely difficult to just give up things that are the foundation of what I grew up knowing. What I can do is buy more energy efficient appliances, remember to turn off the light, reduce the use of the air conditioning, buy more organic local food or even get a more efficient vehicle next time. I would switch to renewable energy for electricity if that option is available. But realistically, people won’t go around looking for ways to cut down on their impact, especially if its time consuming and frustrating. What people can do is strive to find those alternatives and inspire others to actually commit. If solutions are easy to obtain and cheap then most people wouldn’t think twice about going greener. I can defiantly cut down on the shopping, fast food and tv time not just for the environmental benefits but for a healthier lifestyle. Overall, I learnt that raising awareness will certainly help a little because individual small actions build up and essentially cause a change. We don’t have to live a radical green life to contribute to the change, we just need to find the cleanest alternative to anything we do. If each and every person switched to energy efficient appliances or are more careful of their electricity usage, then a lot of carbon dioxide would be cut down. It’s about realizing that we share this planet with other humans and creatures and being selfish comes at the cost of others. You don’t have to be a radical environmentalist nor a consumer driven person, there is always a middle ground and there is always something everyone can contribute to make the world a better place. we can’t just sit back and wait for some organization to come up with a rescue plan to save the EVR:2001: Environmental Science Project 2 environment, we have to be accountable for our own actions. There is extreme paradox in this world, we throw away food enough to feed another planet, yet people are starving, there are people spending thousands of dollars on sports cars and designer clothes yet some lack the fundamentals needs to survive, we all strive to live the 21st century American life yet are upset about the degradation of the environment and don’t want to deal with the consequences. Any action we do towards reducing our carbon footprint, no matter how small is in fact one more step towards a change. The documentary made me realize that you can in fact compensate some of the harm you’re causing by doing something good in return, this can include volunteering for environmental profits or simply spreading awareness. The documentary made me think about how we’re distracted by all sorts of advancements which tricks us into thinking we’re of more value than others. With each step towards a more developed future, we lose sight of what’s really important and where all this essentially came from which makes it harder for people to feel guilty or take action. The main message that I’ve learnt from the documentary is that there is always something for you to do, saving the environment doesn’t necessarily mean not using plastic or giving up electricity, it simply means doing more good things to compensate the bad.

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