FP: The Beavans have received praise, and a good share of criticism for their project. What do you make of these diametric reactions?
JS: As filmmakers we were thrilled that the No Impact project generated strong reactions in people. It meant that it was touching a nerve. Colin was being criticized and praised from both the left and the right. The challenge as a storyteller was to incorporate the criticism into the film in an organic way. We were very lucky that Colin’s mentor in the community garden Mayer Vishner, a life long activist, became a friend who could critique the project from within. Mayer’s analysis was an important moment in the film.
FP: How have your beliefs and practices shifted since you started working on this project?
JS: There is no way you could spend the year documenting the NIM project and not reflect on every aspect of your own life. There are many things that changed in my life from that year… we used cloth diapers on our son, I line dry my laundry as much as possible, we compost. It is not that hard to reduce your impact 50% by just making active decisions. It is the other 50% that is very tough and that is where we need the government, business and institutions to help build an infrastructure that can facilitate change. But once you start changing your own life it is much easier to raise your voice for political/social change.
FP: What do you want people to take away from this film?
JS: It is so easy to just move through life without examining the impact of the decisions we make. We are clearly in a global environmental emergency and we need to wake up and start asking ourselves tough questions. Do we need to live in a disposable culture and does that make us happier? The answers may not be easy but if we don’t start asking the questions we will never make any progress.
Our hope is that the No Impact Man documentary will create a forum for people to start talking about and thinking about these issues.
No Impact Man opens in theaters on September 11. Colin Beavan’s book, No Impact Man, is in stores September 8. New Yorkers: Leave a comment on this post to enter for a chance to win tickets for you and two friends to check out the film.