Last night we finished this documentary. My husband saw it last year at a film festival.
He has been counting down the months to the release of this film so that we could watch it together. I highly recommend this film to all. While going off the grid, not using toilet paper, and hand washing our cloths might seem extreme to most people, it is interesting to watch a family try this for a whole year. I think that is what makes this project so interesting, that a family has to do it together. For an individual to pull it off it might be easier, but for an entire family to pull it off, it is quite an accomplishment. I don't think very many of us with kids could imagine doing what they did, with child in-tow.
Watching this movie made me think about the book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, A year in the life of food, by Barbara Kingsolver. Her family commits to only eating locally for a whole year. I think one of the biggest differences that Kingsolver and her family do is that each family member gets to choose one item that is not local to keep in their diet. They choose; olive oil, chocolate and coffee (both must be fair trade and organic) and dried fruits (I don't remember what the rules were for this food). Either way they each got to choose their "vice" in No Impact Man they have no "vice", its a clean cut, over a period of 5 months they "phase out" all the different things in their lives that have impact on the environment. Lastly they go off the grid, meaning they turn off the electricity. For 6 months they have no lights, fridge, heater (in NYC!). And they do it! There is of course some tension between the husband (who's project this is) and his wife (who love fast food, and her daily Starbucks). But its great to see them work together, watch them communicate through the year and take each hurdle one at a time.
I would encourage you to rent this film and watch it. It does not make you feel like you have to go off the grid for life to save the world. But it does make you think about "what can I do to help". Most of all like the Kingsolver book it shows us what is valuable, what is necessary, what has improved our quality of life, and all the other crap we can live without, even if we think we can't. It might be worth a try to give something up just to see if we can manage without it. Ohhh yeah and Lent is coming soon! Great timing for this film.
WATCH THE TRAILER