Thursday, November 4, 2010

No Impact, No Way

First off, I can't seem to figure out how to change the title, so the clunky "unnamed" will have to do for now...apparently, much like a facial tattoo, you should really be sure you know what you're doing before picking a Google blog title.

Scott and I started watching a movie earlier this week that was somewhat related to the local and national events of the week, at least to my way of thinking. Called "No Impact Man," I can't say I exactly "liked" it, but it would be hard not to find it intriguing on some level. Its protagonist, a guy named Colin Beaven, decides to go on a year-long quest to minimize--I mean to the point of nothingness--his own carbon footprint. He and his (supportive but somewhat horrified) wife take the project on in stages, first giving up more obvious luxuries--Starbucks coffees, new clothing, etc.--and gradually moving toward realms most of us would shudder to consider. No food that has traveled more than 25 miles to their plates (think about that--NYC, in the winter). No electricity. And--the understandable source of much of his wife's horror--no toilet paper.

The reason I, and many critics, couldn't get completely on board is because as with many such endeavors (Eat, Pray, Love or Julie + Julia, etc.), setting out to do something with the immediate intention of publicizing it immediately cheapens one's intentions somewhat, genuine though they may be. In other words, seeking attention for reducing his carbon footprint doesn't exactly fit the premise, does it?

But regardless, I guess ultimately you do feel like at least Colin and his hapless spouse DID something, whether or not components of that something were somewhat self-serving. I suppose that is my point, finally. The efforts to remain a decent suburban footsoldier (not my phrase, but I love it) sometimes ring hollow in the face of the staggering problems we face as a planet. Some days, it only takes one more article, news report or book on the effects of global warming and overpopulation to make you stare at that modest pile of recyclables in your closet despondently and say, this? This is what's supposed to save us all?

Well, yes. Yes, it is. For the counter to being that footsoldier, turning off that faucet, casting that vote--is a world where we truly lose the one thing without which we cannot effect any change: belief in ourselves, in each other. The rest of the country may have forgotten, but I remember the campaign slogan of not too long ago--don't you? Yes, we can. YES, WE CAN. Now, I'm not naive, and I'm certainly not a Suzy Sunshine optimist type. But what would be worse than the frustration of one more broken promise, one more unmet initiative? NOT feeling that frustration. Not believing in anything or anyone. THAT would be worse.

For his part, where I left off in the film, Colin said he intended through his extremism to figure out that which was truly vital to his existence, and to add a few of those conveniences back to his daily life. God, I hope toilet paper makes the short list.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes I think reducing can be as beneficial as eliminating. So drink the Starbucks, but bring your own reusable cup. Buy groceries, but bring your own bag. Use fewer squares of toilet paper--when you can. ;)

    I was not meant to be an extremist in any sense of the word, but we can all do our part. Yes we can. :)

    As far as changing your title, go up to the dashboard on the top right of your blogger page. You'll come to a template of your blog and you can click to edit each section. Good luck!
    Thanks Liz!