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Can anyone really lead a "no impact" life?

Just yesterday, I finished reading a book that’s been top of my list for a while now: Colin Beavan’s “No Impact Man”. It’s a story about the author transforming his and his family’s life to practice what he preaches: sustainability. He manages to do this to the extreme all while living in the modern madness of NYC. He spends his year not taking any airplanes, subways, or taxis. He stops using electricity in the house, reduces all waste (no toilet paper!), and overall lives a no-impact lifestyle.

This book was fascinating to me as a fellow sustainability advocate. Questions that have always intrigued me were:

  • To what extremes do we choose to live a sustainable lifestyle in the modern world?

  • How can any normal person take on a zero-impact life?

  • How can I better practice what I preach, and make my life aligned to my beliefs?

Obviously after a year of this ultra-lifestyle transition, Beavan has some good learning lessons that anyone can adopt.

These were my biggest takeaways from the book:

1. We cannot wait for the system to change. We as individuals are the system.

2. How we live affects everyone arounds us. We need to assert responsibility.

3. We don’t just vote for the leaders that create the culture we want, we take responsibility for making the culture ourselves.

All of these phrases refer to and to make these changes! If we cannot lead by example, then how do we lead? Leading a conscious lifestyle is important because for one, global warming is real and we need to make large changes as a culture. And two, by treating the earth consciously and appreciating everything on the planet, we become more kind as humans.

While living like Beavan as “No Impact Man” is truly impressive and amazing, it’s just not the case for most of us.

Here are the most simple ways to practice sustainability and set measurable goals for yourself!

  • FOOD

  • Purchase local foods & go to farmer’s markets (more fun anyway)

  • Try to set a goal of three vegetarian meals per week


  • Get a bike, try not to uber or taxi for a whole month. If you live in NYC, that can be a tough goal!

  • Think about doing a “staycation” for your next vacation to reduce emissions


  • Simple! Get a water bottle and USE it. Try to not buy any bottled water for one month.

  • Instead of buying new clothes, host a clothing swap.

  • Might be obvious but tell your favorite hotels to use Giving Bag ;)

If you try any of these, let me know how they go!!

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