Dinty Moore, Dumpster Diving, and No Impact Man's Cult of Personality


To counterbalance today's Weekly Standard evisceration, a little love for the magazine: In this week's issue, Matt Labash signs on to the Internet-wide crusade of No Impact Man Colin Beavan, and tells a terrible tale of what happens when amateurs try to reduce their carbon footprint to zero:

We erased our carbon footprint! Well, we didn't erase it exactly. It's impossible to leave no footprints. I mean human exhalation leaves 1 kg of carbon dioxide a day, which traps heat in the atmosphere, which warms the polar ice caps, which drowns polar bears, which makes Al Gore weep. So we can't be no impact strictly speaking, unless we hold our breath until the Climate Bill passes and President Obama goes to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December and invents green jobs and finds green solutions to intractable problems like human breathing. So let's just say I went Low Impact. If my Low Impact week was an aerobics class, it'd be the kind where I jog in place on a mini-trampoline while wearing a decorative headband.

In a single low-carbon week, Labash manages to destroy his son's birthday by dumpster diving for a present, miss out of fireside nooky with his wife to watch a webcast from the No Impact movement's Dear Leader, and then end the whole experiment early so that he can go fly fishing.

And at the heartwarming conclusion: Volunteering at a food pantry (Day 7: Give Back Day) Labash realizes canned beef stew is the bee's carbon-intensive knees:

Across the grounds at the pantry, over a dozen volunteers work for a couple hours full-tilt, unloading the truck and stocking the shelves, and more food is still coming in from additional members who missed the truck. One carbon-monster wheels up in his chariot-of-death--a Cadillac Escalade--and unpacks an entire SUV of plastic-bagged groceries, bought at his own expense.

As I join in the shelf-stocking, putting the boxed mac'n'cheese, canned Dinty Moore beef stew, offbrand toilet paper, and packaged Ramen noodles in their respective places, I realize how these needy carbon-emitters--the church helps 100 families per week--wouldn't make it for a second in the No Impact Experiment. Where's the locally grown, unpackaged delights? Where's the exotic farmer's market daikon radishes and lovage and baby fennel and swiss chard?

Read Reason's review of No Impact Man's documentary here.