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A guilty liberal finally snaps, swears off plastic, goes organic, becomes a bicycle nut, turns off his power, and generally becomes a tree-hugging lunatic who tries to save the polar bears and the rest of the planet from environmental catastrophe while dragging his baby daughter and Prada-wearing, Four Seasons–loving wife along for the ride. And that's just the beginning. Bill McKibben meets Bill Bryson in this seriously engaging look at one man's decision to put his money where his mouth is and go off the grid for one year—while still living in New York City—to see if it's possible to make no net impact on the environment. In other words, no trash, no toxins in the water, no elevators, no subway, no products in packaging, no air-conditioning, no television . . . What would it be like to try to live a no-impact lifestyle? Is it possible? Could it catch on? Is living this way more satisfying or less satisfying? Harder or easier? Is it worthwhile or senseless? Are we all doomed or can our culture reduce the barriers to sustainable living so it becomes as easy as falling off a log? These are the questions at the heart of this whole mad endeavor, via which Colin Beavan hopes to explain to the rest of us how we can realistically live a more "eco-effective" and by turns more content life in an age of inconvenient truths.
In the growing debate over eco-friendly living, it seems that everything is as bad as everything else. Do you do more harm by living in the country or the city? Is it better to drive a thousand miles or take an airplane? In NO IMPACT MAN, Colin Beavan tells the extraordinary story of his attempt to find some answers - by living for one year in New York City (with his wife and young daughter) without leaving any net impact on the environment. His family cut out all driving and flying, used no air conditioning, no television, no toilets. . .They went from making a few concessions to becoming eco-extremists. The goal? To determine what works and what doesn't, and to fashion a truly 'eco-effective' way of life. Beavan's radical experiment makes for an unforgettable and humorous memoir in an attempt to answer perhaps the most important question of all: What is the sufficient individual effort that it would take to save the planet? And what is stopping us?
ABOUT THE BOOK “Was I as helpless to help change the imperiled world as I originally thought?” The way environmentalism and global warming are talked about today, it’s no surprise that some people think we are doomed. The arrival of 2012 means we’re destined to a painful demise on an earth that’s too boiling hot, or is being wiped out by fanatical weather that floods our towns and blows us away. And with the drastic nature of the changes apparently required of us all, it’s no wonder that we seem doomed to fail in making the necessary fixes: produce no trash, reduce carbon emissions, don’t drive, reuse everything, don’t buy new, don’t use disposable items, the list goes on. Most of these requirements would demand seemingly radical lifestyle adjustments. Enter Colin Beavan. No Impact Man. No Impact Man used to talk the talk, but as for walking the walk, he felt comfortable in his family’s easy habits that made each day run smoothly and allowed convenience in every step. He finally decided that he needed to change his habits, and explore what the Earth could give us instead of what we could take from it. He became No Impact Man. MEET THE AUTHOR Megan Yarnall is a publicist and writer. She studied English, creative writing, and Italian at Dickinson College, and wrote her thesis on the connections between humans, their bodies, and language. She graduated in 2010 after spending four years organizing all of her college’s concerts. Megan has lived abroad in Italy and loves studying foreign language, linguistics, and writing. In her spare time she horseback rides, rock climbs, and travels. EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK However, Colin and his family did adjust. Slowly. He started bringing glass jars to buy loose flour, nuts, and beans. He used a handkerchief or an old napkin to blow his nose. He started buying fresh food and stopped using plastic packaging or plastic bags. Michelle found herself enjoying the forty block walk to work every day. The family was looking healthier thanks to the new eating habits and exercise. After cutting out public transportation and instead getting around the city on foot, on bike, and on scooter, and after they cut out trash production with reusable items (even a straight razor for shaving), they began the sustainable eating phase. This meant implementing sustainable and local eating on top of the efforts they’d already been making. Colin did some of his own research, and talked to some experts – including some people near Vancouver who embarked on their own year of sustainable eating – to get a feel for what it would mean to be eating local. After talking with some farmers and sellers in the New York area, Colin decided he and his family would only buy and eat food that came from within 250 miles of New York City. This meant they could only eat what is in season, and wouldn’t be able to enjoy extras like coffee... Buy a copy to keep reading!
“This is the book where self-help turns into helping the world—and then turns back into helping yourself find a better life. Fascinating and timely!”—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet What does it take to achieve a successful and satisfying life? Not long ago, the answer seemed as simple as following a straightforward path: college, career, house, marriage, kids, and a secure retirement. Not anymore. Staggering student loan debt, sweeping job shortages, a chronically ailing economy—plus the larger issues of global unrest, poverty, and our imperiled environment—make the search for fulfillment more challenging. And, as Colin Beavan, activist and author of No Impact Man, proclaims, more exciting. In this breakthrough book, Beavan extends a hand to those seeking more meaning and joy in life even as they engage in addressing our various world crises. How to Be Alive nudges the unfulfilled toward creating their own version of the Good Life—a life where feeling good and doing good intersect. He urges readers to reexamine the “standard life approaches” to pretty much everything and to experiment with life choices that are truer to their values, passions, and concerns. How do you stop placing limits on your potential impact? How do you make your choices really matter in everything from your clothing purchases to your career? How do you find the people who will most support you in your quest for a good life? To answer these questions and more, Beavan draws on classic literature and philosophy; surprising new scientific findings; and the uplifting personal stories of real-life “lifequesters”—people who are breaking away from those old broken paths, blazing fresh trails, and reveling in every step along the way. “There is a movement afoot for a better life and Colin Beavan is its prophet, with a new book as powerful as his already classic No Impact Man.”—John de Graaf, coauthor of Affluenza
Only when the power goes off and food spoils do we truly appreciate how much we rely on refrigerators and freezers. In Refrigeration Nation, Jonathan Rees explores the innovative methods and gadgets that Americans have invented to keep perishable food cold—from cutting river and lake ice and shipping it to consumers for use in their iceboxes to the development of electrically powered equipment that ushered in a new age of convenience and health. As much a history of successful business practices as a history of technology, this book illustrates how refrigeration has changed the everyday lives of Americans and why it remains so important today. Beginning with the natural ice industry in 1806, Rees considers a variety of factors that drove the industry, including the point and product of consumption, issues of transportation, and technological advances. Rees also shows that how we obtain and preserve perishable food is related to our changing relationship with the natural world.
Plum and pear trees shade park benches in Kamloops, British Columbia. Tomatoes and cucumbers burst forth from planters at City Hall in Provo, Utah. Strawberries and carrots flourish along the sunny sidewalks of a Los Angeles neighborhood. The idea that public land could be used creatively to grow fresh food for local citizens was beginning to gain traction when Public Produce was first published in 2009, but there were few concrete examples of action. Today, things are different: fruits and vegetables are thriving in parks, plazas, along our streets, and around our civic buildings. This revised edition of Public Produce profiles the many communities and community officials that are rethinking the role of public space in cities, and shows how places as diverse as parking lots and playgrounds can sustain health and happiness through fresh produce. But these efforts produce more than food. Revitalizing urban areas, connecting residents with their neighborhoods, and promoting healthier lifestyles are just a few of the community goods we harvest from growing fruits and vegetables in our public gathering spots. Taking readers from inspiration to implementation, Public Produce is chock full of tantalizing images and hearty lessons for bringing agriculture back into our cities.
No one likes listening to smug hippies bragging about how they don't use toilet paper, or worse yet, lecturing about the evils of plastic bags and SUVs. But most of us do want to lessen our ecological footprint. With this in mind, Farquharson takes on the intense personal challenge of making one green change to her lifestyle every single day for a year to ultimately figure out what's doable and what's too hardcore. Vanessa goes to the extremes of selling her car, unplugging the fridge, and washing her hair with vinegar, but she also does easy things like switching to an all-natural lip balm. All the while, she is forced to reflect on what it truly means to be green. Whether confronting her environmental hypocrisy or figuring out the best place in her living room for a compost bin full of worms and rotting cabbage, Vanessa writes about her foray into the green world with self-deprecating, humorous, and accessible insight. This isn't a how-to book of tips, it's not about being eco-chic; it's an honest look at what happens when an average girl throws herself into the murkiest depths of the green movement. Reviews “A humorous, self-deprecating tale of the crazy things that happen to normal people when they take the green plunge. Vanessa Farquharson will have you wanting to try your own experiments, too, because she shows how easy some of these planet-saving changes can be.” —Alisa Smith, co-author of The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating “By spending a year putting the planet’s needs as a top priority, Vanessa Farquharson’s search for love and connection leads her to happiness she never thought she could know. An entertaining approach to ‘greenlightenment,’ Sleeping Naked Is Green will surely inspire other skeptics to find their inner environmentalist.” —Gillian Deacon, author of Green for Life “One step a day doesn't seem like much, but over the course of a whole year it adds up to a world of difference. This isn't just a well-written and fun book about going green, it is about watching a personal transformation. Being inspired was never so entertaining.” —Lloyd Alter, TreeHugger.com

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