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A Book Club Session with Colin Beavan (No Impact Man)

Reminder: Personal Choice Can Have an Impact!

Last weekend I had the opportunity to lead a book club session with author Colin Beavan (No Impact Man).  The book follows his journey to reduce the impact he and his family have on the environment.  He starts with the simple things like using reusable grocery bags and biking to work everyday, but then gets really serious about the no impact plan and takes his apartment 'off the grid,' using solar power to power the few things they needed (like his computer for writing).  

I wasn't sure what to expect going into the book club session, but Mr. Beavan had interesting and insightful answers to people's questions.  One of the biggest criticisms of the book is that it is all about personal choices, and doing things individually rather than working for greater community or national change.  His response? Not all of the personal choices in his book work for everyone, nor should they.  The key to 'walking the talk' is to take what personal steps we can, recognize that we cannot do it all, and to work to encourage others to do the same.  He also stressed the importance of connecting with a community -- rather than just doing these things alone, work on something with the community.  Want to eat local but there is no farmer's market? Work with someone to start bringing one closer to you.  

What I really enjoyed about this session, is the reminder of how important it is to work in community for these bigger environmental goals.  It has been made pretty clear that any legislation about climate change or environmental issues will take a very long time to pass, or will be pushed to the bottom of the priority list.  So the options left (besides advocacy) are to do personal changes.  It was great to be reminded that personal choices can be linked to community efforts, and can have some kind of impact, even if it's something small.