Here's the challenge: Every time you enter and leave home, you must walk up and down nine flights of stairs.
Here's the prize: No more dwindling natural resources; no more global climate worries. You'd do it, wouldn't you?
For one year, Colin Beavan, the title character in the film “No Impact Man” did not use the elevator in his Manhattan apartment. Nine flights of stairs. With that, plus bicycling and walking everywhere, he also had a built-in, no-cost physical fitness program.
Actually, No-Impact-Man Beavan went a little bit further than that. He became a vegetarian. He purchased only locally produced food. He went without electricity. Without electricity. You'd do that, wouldn't you?
What was Beavan's point? You need to see the movie to appreciate it.
If it were just a film about this prolonged stunt, you'd turn blue long before you turned green. This documentary includes Beavan's wife, who agreed to share in this experiment. Since her commitment was, shall we say, strained compared with her more obsessive husband, the film is a surprisingly engaging reflection on what it means to sustain a committed relationship. Not incidentally, the film includes their 2-year old daughter.
“No Impact Man” entertains considerable tension and humor in tactical difficulties and marital stresses. It also animates transcendent benefits like getting to know the people who produce and sell you your food, like being routinely mindful about your health, like knowing yourself and your family better.
Still, what was Beavan's point? He doesn't suggest that people should adopt such radical behavior. He exemplifies what people are able to do, what people can pick and choose to do, to whatever degree, to make a difference.
Beavan reminds us that it takes corporate commitment and government commitment to make a large enough difference in our challenging modern age, but Beavan believes that it's up to each individual to demonstrate and represent action before we can demand action.