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Low Impact Man (documentary)
A year in the life of Colin Beavan, Michelle Conlin and daughter Isabella
Directors: Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein
Oscilloscope Laboratories Films
Rating: no rated but could be R for language
Running Length: 96 minutes
The term “carbon footprint” is a popular catch phrase now. It literally means how much waste do you leave around you. Colin Beavan decided to reduce his carbon footprint to almost zero. Recycle would become his middle name. Also in Colin’s family are his wife Michelle Conlin and their infant daughter, Isabella. They would live for a year in their apartment, with no electricity, eat natural foods, cloth diapers for Isabella, no caffeine (a hardship for Michelle), no transportation with fuel, no paper anything.
Looks good in discussion, but can this group of three sustain a new life-style for a year? In Low Impact Man, directed and filmed by Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein, the experiment begins. Michelle works out of the home, so goes to work now on a scooter, but she can grab caffeine coffee at work. To get rid of waste products in the home, Colin puts together a worm farm in a box (worms can eat three pounds of food scraps a week), ice is brought in from a friendly neighbor and they use candles. Washing clothes is done in the bathtub. As for the elevator, well, there are always stairs as Colin finds out when he guests at a radio station and has to climb 24 flights of stairs.
As for food, they try to eat natural foods, even to visiting dairy farms. The less traveled the food, the better and no antibiotics in meat. The family eats lots of vegetarian dishes and Colin becomes creative in cooking. Reluctantly, they use a gas stove. The friends invited to dinner are surprised. However, the more people hear about the family experiment, the more hate mail the family gets and the content is not explained.
Michelle has an awakening when the family visits a beach within the city limits and she had no idea it was there. Complete with sand dunes “like the Hampton’s.” She learns to do her own hair and feels and looks healthier,
Low Impact Man shows that this can be done. You can live without ice, elevators and cars. Within a city, that is, where things are close by. In the country, a horse would be handy. Caffeine could be a problem and if you don’t have a friendly neighbor…no ice. The only problem with a worm farm in the apartment is that in warm weather, it breeds flies and one must become handy with a fly swatter because the use of insecticides is a no-no. In other words, this is like life about 1900 and it still can work.
Copyright 2009 Marie Asner
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