Individuals can change society, author says

By Anne Marie Sanderson

It is up to each individual to reverse negative environment changes, said Tuesday’s lecturer, a man who was willing to give up toilet paper for a year to help the Earth.

Author Colin Beaven spoke at the Singletary Center Tuesday night to students and faculty on sustainability and the purpose of his book, “No Impact Man.”

Beaven was eager to spread the message to people across the country about the importance of the environment.

“At some point we have to stop arguing of whose right or wrong, we just need to fix it,” Beaven said.

As a society, Beaven said, people can’t change everyone else’s lifestyles and fix the world’s problems. Each person can change his or her own lifestyle, and hope to influence other’s to change their lifestyles, Beaven said.

Beaven is the author of this year’s Common Reading Experience, “No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process.”

For a year, Beaven, his wife and daughter lived without making an impact on the environment in New York City. The book follows Beaven’s journey to a sustainable lifestyle and shares his experiences.

Between the book and speaking across the country, Beaven hopes to better society and the environment.

“We are wrecking the place and not even hooking up with the people we want too,” Beaven said.

The metaphor referred to the way society treats earth. People are constantly having a party and ruining the planet that we call home, he said. In return, people are not satisfied in the end. He asked, “so what’s the significance in this party we are constantly having?”

With this, he said people need to think about how to live sustainably and improve the environment. This type of impact has to be done on an individual basis. One person can’t make another person change their lifestyle, nor can they force sustainability among society, he said.

“We all do have an obligation not only to this planet but to each other,” Katie Elmore, a history freshman who was at the lecture, said. “We are all in this together and recognizing and remembering that is a really powerful thing.”

If students were to start putting environmentally safe habits into action on campus, they could make an influence on other students as well as faculty, said Mason Mayborg, an undergraduate studies freshman. Mayborg said the university needs to supply resources to assist student and faculty in practicing environmentally safe habits.

“At Commons you use so many paper products and there is no way of recycling them,” Mayborg said.

Beaven said everyone has to pull themselves together and change personal habits before coming together as whole. Once a person has reached that point, society can change. He said society needs to start doing more good than harm to the environment.

“We don’t need the government or big corporations to help with the environment, we have to change it ourselves,” Natalie Sterling, a nursing freshman, said.

Beaven has started a non-profit organization called, “No Impact,” with hopes to spread the word about sustainability outside of his book and lectures. For information text, “noimpact,” to 702-59. They will then ask for an email address which will receive information about the organization and living sustainable will be sent.