February's Simple, Good, and Tasty Book Club Pick: No Impact Man by Colin Beavan

What would you do to really make a difference? Would you give up most seemingly “normal” trappings of modern city life to create the ultimate experiment?

February’s Simple, Good, and Tasty Book Club pick focuses on author Colin Beavan and the year he spent trying to do as little damage to the environment as possible. Beavan eventually spun that year into a book (and accompanying film) entitled No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process.

You may have heard about No Impact Man -- and its seemingly extremist author -- when the book and Sundance-selected, Colbert-discussed documentary came out back in the fall of 2009. At the time, there was much discussion, praise, and interest in Beavans' experiment -- and there was also a fair amount of criticism and questioning of the author's intentions. Mother Nature Network called him an "eco-superhero" while others called him an attention-seeking, misguided, meanie pants. Wherever you may have landed on the book and its author, the issues they raised remain every bit as interesting, worthwhile, and contentious as they ever were.

From Beavan’s Amazon Author Central Page:

“The point of the project was to experiment with ways of living that might both improve quality of life and be less harmful to the planet. It also provided a narrative vehicle by which to attract broad public attention to the range of pressing environmental crises including: food system sustainability, climate change, water scarcity, and materials and energy resource depletion.”

Join us on February 24 at Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op from 7:00 - 8:30 pm or in Bemidji (near Harmony Co-op) from 5:30 - 7:30 pm. Both locations will host discussions about the book that night, of course, and screenings of the No Impact Man documentary as well.

As you read the book inpreparation for our get-together, here are a few questions to get you ready for the discussion:

  • What changes have you made in your life that might have sounded (or felt) extreme when you were a teenager? How about in the last year?
  • What does it mean for an individual to make an "impact" on our environment? How about a company or a government? What impacts should we be trying to make?
  • What do you think of the author's attempt to have no impact on his environment? Did he succeed? What kind of impact did he have? Is this a positive thing?

We hope you join us on the 24th to continue the discussion...popcorn, anyone?


Tracy Morgan is a frequent contributor to Simple, Good and Tasty. She also runs Segnavia Creative, a business development and marketing firm, and is co-owner of the new Kitchen in the Market.  Tracy serves on the board of directors for the Mississippi Market Natural Food Co-op in St. Paul.