I’ve just watched a documentary on Netflix that I noticed a while ago and finally got around to sitting down to watch. It’s called No Impact Man. It involves a New York writer, complete with overdone accent and a trick up his sleeve called ‘idea 32 for making some easy cash and getting famous’.
No Impact Man also has a wife, complete with overdone accent, added inflection and a weakness for Making an Impact, which No Impact Man does not like. They have a small child, and part way through the documentary they argue about having a second one, which has nothing to do with making No Impact.
It’s the usual American documentary, following a normal person, much like Supersize Me, et al, except that No Impact Man is not just an experiment and get rich quick scheme for the main participant, but an attempt at making a life more ecological. He does this while living in the middle of New York, and features all the impossible things to give up which he does give up (toilet roll, electricity, washing detergent) and leaves out all the solutions to things he should give up (pet food when consuming no meat and only locally sourced food, shampoo and soap, electricity to charge mobile phones), so we don’t know whether he does this or not.
Despite being just another predictable documentary in which not everything is thought through, I was interested to watch it for genuine solutions to things.
Being environmentally friendly often means saving money at the same time, and as someone wanting heavily to do the latter, I’d quite like to experiment with the prior too.
I think I’m an average consumer. I recycle what I can, I did compost food at one point until I forgot about the daily box in the kitchen for a while and felt sick at the thought of what it would contain. I only use the car for the usual journeys, keep petrol consumption low, and walk or bike most places besides work. But that’s the problem, all of these things are average. I remember a green campaign at university once which gave out tick lists of things everyone could do to reduce their carbon footprint, and it only had things like ‘turn off lights in rooms not in use’. Well, isn’t that much obvious? The things we’re regularly asked to do as part of ‘being green’ are just too simple, and things that any regular person would be doing anyway, so where are the real suggestions?
How can I recycle plastic bottle lids? Can I stop buying plastic containers altogether? (Cosmetic companies take note: refillable bottles perhaps?) Can I buy bananas from anywhere without them travelling thousands of miles, and if so, can I do this without creating a larger problem for the plant workers in poor regions? (Though that starts a whole other environmental vs economical debate.)
I live in a city with a really good commitment to recycling, yet from years of temping in offices I know this doesn’t extend to the private sector, and paper is thrown away en masse as though it comes from thin air, rather than providing that very substance in its original form.
I would like to see more serious environmental media coverage, without the primary school treatment. We all know we should be using energy saving light bulbs, so tell us how to do the next bit now.