Elizabeth Kolbert has penned an entertaining article on No Impact Man and similar eco-crusade books:
The nouveau Thoreauvians have picked up from “Walden” its dramaturgy of
austerity. Their schemes require them to renounce (if only temporarily)
various material comfortscars, elevators, Starbucksthat their
neighbors take for granted. Renunciation sets them apart and organizes
their lives in the name of some higher purpose. The troubleor, at
least, a troubleis that it’s hard to say exactly what that purpose is.
A more pointed paragraph:
A more honest title for Beavan’s book would have been “Low Impact Man,”
and a truly honest title would have been “Not Quite So High Impact
Man.” Even during the year that Beavan spent drinking out of a Mason
jar, more than two billion people were, quite inadvertently, living
lives of lower impact than his. Most of them were struggling to get by
in the slums of Delhi or Rio or scratching out a living in rural Africa
or South America. A few were sleeping in cardboard boxes on the street
not far from Beavan’s Fifth Avenue apartment.