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No Impact Man: Pedal Power April 9, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Life Balance, Sustainable Living.

In No Impact Man: The Documentary, we addressed the family’s efforts to   reduce, reuse, and recycle to lessen their carbon footprint on the planet.

Goofy-Riding-A-BikeOther thought-provoking aspects to the documentary are worthy of further comment as we get ready to celebrate Earth Day 2010.

The first has to do with the family’s use of bicycles to get around New York City, a hair-raising ordeal, to say the least.

In order to transport their daughter, they borrowed a large tricycle from someone they met at the farmer’s market.  Since it didn’t fit in a standard bike rack, they parked it on the sidewalk in front of their apartment building ~ until the neighbors complained, and insisted that they find some other place to park the bike.

Hmm . . .

* Interestingly enough, the neighbors did NOT complain about the enormous dumpster sitting directly behind the bike.

* The neighbors did NOT complain about the motorcycle parked next to the dumpster.

* The neighbors did NOT complain about the multitude of cars parked on the street on both sides of the dumpster.

Well, maybe the bike was in their way?

Nope ~ the sidewalk was wide enough that the bike did not block ingress or egress to the building.

Well, maybe the bike was an eyesore?

Again, nope.  The tricycle was well-maintained, in good working condition, and quite attractive ~ way more attractive than the enormous, rusted-out dumpster.

So why did the neighbors complain about the tricycle?  Why did they want this environmentally friendly family to park it somewhere other than in direct sight of the front door?

Although this question went unanswered during the 90 minute film, I suspect that seeing that tricycle sitting there every day reminded their not-so-earth-friendly neighbors that No Impact Man and his family were lowering their impact on the planet, at great personal sacrifice, in order to make the world a better place for everyone.

Every time the neighbors saw the tricycle sitting there, doing nothing wrong, it reminded them that they could be doing so much more ~ they could shop less, eat more locally grown food, reduce their consumption of disposable products, lessen their reliance on non-sustainable energy sources, etc..

Since having those kind of thoughts made them feel guilty about their daily choices (and perhaps even their very existence on the planet), they wanted to sweep that tricycle out of their field of vision.

Rather than carefully examining their own carbon footprint, and coming up with a plan to start making small changes (which collectively might make a real difference to future generations), they just complained to the super:


Fortunately for the family, the superintendent of the building believed in promoting the use of pedal power to move about the city and refused to do anything about the bike.

So the neighbors just had to deal with their feelings of guilt in some other way ~ shooting the messenger was no longer an option.

Many people watching the documentary will be inspired to make changes in their own lives.  Others, like the not-so-earth-friendly neighbors, will get annoyed at the underlying message that we should all do more with less.

Which side of that fence will you be on?

For more Green Tips and Posts in honor or Earth Day 2010 . . . stay tuned!


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