Brooklyn’s “No Impact Man” hopes to make a big impact next year — in Washington.
Environmentalist Colin Beavan — the Clinton Hill resident who made a name for himself by curbing his fossil fuel consumption and living to blog about it — is throwing his sustainably made hat into the ring to succeed Rep. Ed Towns (D–Fort Greene).
Beavan will square off against the winner of a Democratic contest between State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D–Prospect Heights) and Councilman Charles Barron (D–Canarsie), on the Green Party ticket.
Though he’s best known for his personal austerity measures — chronicling his avoidance of energy-sucking appliances like air conditioners in the name of a healthier Earth — he says his hope is to jump-start the economy by backing Brooklyn businesses.
“The government and corporations take wealth away from communities and we basically beg for the money back, but we should invest in job development here so money doesn’t leave the neighborhoods,” said Beavan.
Born in Stuyvesant Town, Beavan got an engineering degree, consulted for housing and health providers, and wrote for magazines before becoming an environmental activist after reading stories about the country’s dependence on foreign oil during the Iraq War.
In 2006, he launched the blog “No Impact Man” dedicated to shrinking his environmental footprint, and the website took off.
He detailed his family’s avoidance of gasoline, electricity, and heat — and decision to only eat food grown within 100 miles of Brooklyn. They became vegetarians, nixed most transportation, and even managed to keep the air conditioners off in 100-degree August heat.
“We were a little bit lucky there was cross ventilation in the apartment,” said Beavan. “We would fill up the bath with water and leave it, and on the blistering nights we would jump in the baths and make ourselves wet.”
The blog led to a book deal, a documentary, a national speaking tour, conferences, and a nonprofit, noimpactproject.org, which shows readers how to incorporate some of Beavan’s waste-reduction techniques to their own lives.
Beavan hopes to use his experience in an eco-abstinence to inform public policy. He still manages to do his part to reduce climate change such as restricting personal travel, but, if elected, he would probably take the train to go to work.
And even if he doesn’t win, he hopes to engage and excite a district stretching across the borough from Brooklyn Heights to Brighton Beach as an everyman candidate (albeit the everyman candidate who once refused to use toilet paper for one year).
“Our real goal is to get people involved in the democratic process,” said Beavan. “Citizens should decide for themselves to run for office and represent their communities better than professional politicians can.”
Reach reporter Aaron Short at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-2547.