No Impact Man Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein

No Impact Man Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein
Back in 2006, Colin Beavan, the husband of Michelle Conlin, the "Working Life" senior writer over at Business Week, decided that he and his family would spend a year making no environmental impact while living in a 5th avenue apartment in New York. This means that they could only eat locally grown food sold without erroneous packaging, not buy new clothes, live without electricity, and welcome a bin full of compost eating worms into their home, ultimately giving up luxuries like heat, air conditioning and cleaners not derived from plants and sticks. Think of it as an idealistic liberal bid for patriarchal cultural relevance in a matriarchal home, with a faux-saviour spin on media whoredom, using the 21st century eco-crisis bandwagon hysteria as a soapbox. It's a cute and, quite literally, harmless idea, if more of a stunt than anything earth shattering (no pun intended). This documentary details the inner-workings of the Beavan/Conlin household as they struggle with the realities of this conviction. Smartly, directors Gabbert and Schein frame this challenge with the perspective of the likable and humorous Conlin, who is partly sceptical of the endeavour, concerned more so with supporting her listless husband. She cheats by getting her hair dyed and sneaks out for Starbucks, asking her husband, on camera, if he need be so graphic in pointing out their replacement of toilet paper with a reusable cloth, something she jokes might get her fired from her job. It's not a ludicrous anxiety, as discovering that a co-worker has no washing machine and was cleaning their shit cloth by hand in their bathtub is something that would certainly shed a different, not overly flattering, light on them. Thankfully, the documentary never reveals the status of tampon usage, keeping that charming visual at bay. If overly succinct and convenient in concluding statements and changes of heart, No Impact Man is a well-edited and thoroughly engrossing documentary, regardless of personal opinion on the subject. Included with the DVD is an abundance of deleted scenes that were seemingly cut for being abrasively preachy. (Mongrel Media)