A self-described “guilty New York liberal,” Colin Beavan decided to practice what he preached, completely eliminating his personal impact on the environment for the next year. That meant eating vegetarian, buying only local food, and turning off the refrigerator. It also meant no elevators, no television, no cars, buses, or airplanes, no toxic cleaning products, no electricity, no material consumption, and no garbage.

None of this represented a major problem – at least for Beavan himself. But he and his family live in Manhattan, so when, as he calls her, his “espresso-guzzling, retail-worshipping” wife, Michelle, and their 2-year-old daughter were dragged into the fray, the No Impact Project had an unforeseen impact of its own.

As part of Rider’s Earth Day, Beavan shared his experience with the No Impact Project, his book, the film, and the consequences of his efforts on April 22 in the Bart Luedeke Center. Prior to his lecture, the Rider University Green Film Series presented his film, No Impact Man, that captured the Beavan family’s 52-week effort to essentially eliminate their carbon footprint challenge. Beavan’s appearance was sponsored by the University’s Energy and Sustainability Steering Committee.
“Most people could not and would not attempt such an extreme way of living,” said Melissa Greenberg, Rider’s sustainability coordination manager. “But I think Colin’s No Impact Project, and the things his family experienced, is one that many people can relate to, as they discover what they can live without and still maintain a happy and comfortable lifestyle.”

The documentary, directed by Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein, provides an intriguing inside look into the experiment that became a national fascination and media sensation, while examining the familial strains and strengthened bonds that result from Colin and Michelle’s struggle with their radical lifestyle change.

Watch the trailer for No Impact Man, or follow Beavan’s continuing No Impact Man blog.