Saturday 28 May 2011

No Impact Man - what other people thought of the film

Green on the Screen are showing No Impact Man on Wednesday 2 June at Moors Bar,  Park Road.  Food is available from 7pm and the film begins at 8pm.

Here are some thoughts on the film from Alexis Rowell from Transition Belsize.

It was great to see so many of you at this week’s film screening of “No Impact Man”. I thought the film raised some important questions. For example, “How far can you go with greening your life before you drive your family and friends crazy?” I know that’s been a hard one for me over the last five years!

But in terms of Transition Belsize I felt the big question was: “Are we thinking hard enough about our wider impact?” By far the biggest impact any of us are having is flying. If you fly, then there is nothing else that comes close in terms of your contribution to climate change. That’s partly because of the carbon emissions of jet engines, but mainly because of the water vapour trails left in the skies which act as greenhouse gases and make the overall impact of flying 2.7 times greater than just the CO2 emissions.

Should we be talking about the big impact stuff like flying? And what would be the Transition way to have that discussion? The intellectual underpinning of Transition is a community attempt to find solutions to climate change, the end of cheap fossil fuels (“peak oil) and the fragility of the financial system. But the way we attract people to our cause is by organising events which are fun, useful or sociable. We try to focus on imagining and planning for a better, greener future and inspiring people to take small steps to reach that vision.

So how do we start a positive conversation about the high impact stuff like flying? Do let me know if you have any suggestions.

 See below for all the actions No Impact Man and his family took:

Food and drink
No meat (18% of the world’s carbon emissions according to the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation); no coffee because of the distance it had travelled; no bottled water or drinks in aluminium cans - only reusable glass or metal water bottles; no individually wrapped food purchases; no food waste – they used a wormery; no takeaway food or restaurants because they couldn’t be sure where the food came from; they only bought milk in reusable containers; they took old egg boxes to buy eggs; they only bought local, seasonal fresh food from within 250 miles ie farmer’s market or allotment; and they bought dried food from bulk bins ie no packaging.  They forgot to talk about their dog food though!

No planes; no car; no taxis; no tubes; no buses; no elevators; no escalators. But they did take a train to go and visit a farm!

Energy and appliances
No television; no dishwasher; no washing machine – they washed by hand or foot using borax and castile soap; no refrigerator – they tried and failed to use a ‘pot in a pot’ Nigerian sand and water cooler; no lights – only candles; and, after about six months, no electricity for anything except they rigged up a solar panel for the computer. But they didn’t mention the gas they were using for cooking or, presumably, for hot water! Nor did they mention their mobile phones!

Consumption and entertainment
Maximum recycling and no waste; junk mail preferences checked; they gave away anything they didn’t use; only reusable nappies; old clothes for household rags not paper towels; no shopping for new products – only borrowing, buying used or renting; no new clothes; no disposable products; no magazine or newspapers; no throwaway razors; no cosmetics; no haircuts in hair salons because of the energy and the chemical products used; homemade shampoo; no toxic cleaning products - homemade cleaning products (borax, castile soap, white vinegar, baking soda); no toothpaste - using baking soda to brush teeth; no gym – they walked up stairs instead; no cinemas – they played parlour games instead; and no toilet paper! But there was a lot of discussion about Mrs Beavan wanting a second child without any discussion of the environmental implications. Having a child is probably the second highest impact thing you can do after flying!

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