Colin Beavan, PhD
AKA No Impact Man
Author, writer, blogger,
consultant, engaged citizen
As the news stories go: “Colin Beavan is a liberal schlub who got tired of listening to himself complain about the world without ever actually doing anything about it…” Thus, in November, 2006, Beavan launched a year-long project in which he, his wife, his two-year-old daughter and his four-year-old dog went off the grid and attempted to live in the middle of New York City with as little environmental impact as possible.
The point of the project was to experiment with ways of living that might both improve quality of life and be less harmful to the planet. It also provided a narrative vehicle by which to attract broad public attention to the range of pressing environmental crises including: food system sustainability, climate change, water scarcity, and materials and energy resource depletion.
Beavan’s experiment in lifestyle redesign is the subject of his book (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and a Sundance-selected documentary by independent film producers Laura Gabbert (Sunset Story, Getting to Know You) and Eden Wurmfeld (The Hammer, Puccini for Beginners, Kissing Jessica Stein). Both the book and the documentary will be released in September, 2009. Columbia Pictures also plans to make a feature film (produced by Todd Black) based on the book.
Beavan writes and administers the provocative environmental blog NoImpactMan.Com, which has become a meeting point for discussion of environmental issues from a “deep green” perspective. In addition to some 2,500 daily visitors and 4,000 daily page views, the site has 10,000 email and “newsreader” subscribers. About 1.8 million people have visited the blog since he established it a year and a half ago.
Beavan was named one of MSN’s Ten Most Influential Men of 2007 and was named an Eco-Illuminator in Elle Magazine’s 2008 Green Awards. His blog NoImpactMan.com was named one of the world’s top 15 environmental websites by Time Magazine. He was named a 2008 Eco-Star by New York City’s Lower East Side Ecology Center.
The No Impact project has been the subject of stories in the New York Time, the Christian Science Monitor, and many other national and international news outlets. Beavan has appeared on The Colbert Report, Good Morning America, Nightline, The Montel Show, and all the major NPR shows. He speaks regularly to a wide variety of audiences, is frequently quoted in the press and consults to business on the intersection of sustainability and human quality of life.
Beavan is a PhD electronic engineer (University of Liverpool). He spent the late 80s and early 90s as a consultant to philanthropic organizations such as social housing providers, drug treatment agencies and hospitals, helping them to promote themselves in order to secure increasingly scarce, Thatcher-era funding.
In 1992 Beavan returned to the United States and wrote for magazines until Hyperion published his first book Fingerprints: The Origins of Crime Detection and the Murder Case that Launched Forensic Science (a popular history of criminology) in 2001. In 2006, Viking published his second book, Operation Jedburgh: D-Day and America’s First Shadow (about the operation that formed the precedent for U.S. anti-Soviet operations in Afghanistan).
He is director of the No Impact Project, a visiting scholar at NYU, an advisor to the University’s Sustainability Task Force, and sits on the board of directors of New York City’s Transportation Alternatives and on the advisory council of Just Food.