Low Impact Man: A Funny Take on the Unsustainability of the “Sustainable” Life

Matt Labash of The Weekly Standard has a very funny piece up called “The Adventures of Low Impact Man”.  Some of you have heard of Colin Beavan and his efforts to live what he calls a “low impact”, non-wasteful life.  Labash takes him up on his challenge and writes an often hilarious and quite lengthy diary of his experience with the eco-friendly lifestyle (I’m on a kick here–what can one say?).

While it is certainly a good thing to seek to live wisely and to eliminate unnecessary waste from one’s life (I attempt to do this), the piece will make you wonder if Beavan’s lifestyle is truly attainable for the average Joe.  If you like Carl Trueman’s biting irony, and you enjoy cultural criticism, evangelical reader, you will love you some Matt Labash.

Here’s a snippet:

Giving up my car, my eco-sensei says, would help me “think fewer emissions and more fun, free time, and money.” But biking 70 miles round trip would take all day. There’d be no point in going, it would be no fun, and even if it gave me more free time with my kids–which it wouldn’t–I’d be too tired to play with them. So my best option is to bike to the Park’n’Ride lot and catch a semi-environmentally friendly commuter bus.

This turns out to be a difficult trick. The last bus leaves for D.C. at 7:20 A.M., a time at which I’m either usually still sleeping or just thinking about getting up. Consequently, I wake up at 5 A.M., to shove off by 5:30. Outside, there isn’t even a hint of sunrise, and it is a moonless night. I’m riding in pitch darkness, except for the headlights of cars whizzing by on a busy four-lane highway with erratic shoulders. The trek is seven miles of taxing hills. (I wear a heart monitor when I bike. On regular rides over flat terrain, I’m in the 120-135 beats per minute range. On this one, with a messenger bag on my back, I stay up around 160 most of the ride.)

It’s so dark I can’t see my gears and accidentally upshift on steep climbs. My mountain-bike chain pops off twice. (Since I hadn’t greased it in a while, I can fit it back on with minimal mess, though I still look like I’ve been fingerprinted.) I ride warily in the darkness, keeping my eyes trained on the faint glint of the guardrail, and the white highway line of the shoulder. But at one point, my bike hits something squishy and nearly kicks out from under me. I stop and wait for passing cars to illuminate what I hit. It’s a dead possum. At least I think it was dead. It might have just been playing possum, in which case, playtime is now certainly over.

This is hilarious stuff.  Read it all at TWS.  Also, note that Labash has a book coming out in February, and he’s written numerous noteworthy pieces before (here’s one, and here’s one more, and here’s a final freebie).  David Brooks has called him “one of the best magazine writers in the country”, and he seems to be, in my limited judgment.

(Image: Mediabistro)

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