No Impact Man

No Impact Man

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Carrie McBride
Jul 23, 2007

No Impact Daughter. You have no doubt heard about the No Impact Man experiment (discussed on AT previously) taking place in an apartment on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Colin Beavan, Michelle Conlin, their two and a half year old daughter Isabella and dog Frankie are doing their best to live for one year without having a net impact on the environment. While everyone else obsesses about how they possibly live without toilet paper, we're more interested in how no impact living suits young Isabella.

You can read more about their experiment on their blog, but the gist of it is that the family doesn't buy anything new, uses only foot-powered transportation (not even elevators), eats only food grown within 250 miles of their home, and has even phased out electricity.

Colin often mentions his daughter, Isabella, in the blog and reading about her is a good reminder that children's needs are simple and not having lots of "stuff" leaves them open to discover the beauty and wonder of their world. Here's an excerpt in which Colin answers a reader's question about how they entertain Isabella without television:

We sit on the steps to the neighboring building and talk to people walking by. Isabella chooses the particular step and says, "Sit here, Daddie."

We talk about all the things we can see and say hi to them all: "Hi cars, hi buildings, hi sky, hi trees, hi dog, hi lady…"

We stomp the laundry in the bathtub together. "I'm splashing with my feet," Isabella says.

(Read the full post here. )

On a recent firefly hunting expedition:

We sat around a while longer, and when about six fireflies circled around us, Isabella suddenly looked at me and said, "I'm so happy, Daddy."

She never said that while we were watching television.

This was a joy we found because having no electricity (and therefore no TV) forces us to actively do things instead of just passively watching things.

Of course you don't have to forgo Colombian coffee or have a bucket of composting worms in your kitchen (which your kids, like Isabella, might actually love) to enjoy magical moments with your child. But, in a world in which we're increasingly disconnected from each other, our food sources, and our natural environment, children can be a conduit for our own rediscovery of these things. It's a reminder that green living isn't just good for the Earth, but, in many ways, good for us.

How about you? Do you have any stories of how green living has brought joy or discovery to your household?

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