Extreme Green Living

The Beavan family's "no impact" lifestyle means giving up many conveniences.

ByABC News via logo
May 10, 2007, 9:13 AM

June 25, 2007 — -- Mornings at the Beavan household look pretty ordinary. The Beavans have breakfast, brush their teeth and get 2-year-old Isabella ready for day care.

But look a little closer: There's no morning paper, no morning television and no coffee. Coffee isn't grown locally, so it's off-limits.

Colin Beavan and his family are midway through a yearlong experiment to see if they can live their lives without creating any waste, and therefore, have no negative impact on the environment. Colin has dubbed himself the "No Impact Man," and he is writing a book about the family's experience.

click here to ask the "No Impact Man" a question.

The experiment has just entered its next stage: turning off the electricity.

"The first night we turned off the electricity I said, 'What the hell are we doing?' I wanted to read," said Colin. "Slowly you adapt and then you start to see the good things about it. It's the transition that I found hard at times."

The family gets power from a solar panel on the roof and also uses candles and solar lamps, and Colin says that the family is spending more time outside since they turned off the electricity.

Colin said that overall, the experiment has actually helped his family and friends become closer.

"For entertainment, we don't watch TV. We play charades or something. It's actually building community," he said.

For most of us, the Beavans' rules seem extreme. The family buys nothing new, nothing that comes in any packaging, no food that isn't grown or made within 250 miles and they don't use transportation -- even public transportation, including elevators.

Colin and Michelle share a scooter to get around New York, and they walk up and down some 50 flights of stairs a day. He shaves with a straight razor, makes bread for the family and shops at a local farmer's market.

"The average piece of food Americans have on their plate has traveled 1,500 miles," Colin said. "That produces a lot of carbon dioxide."