2014 Read: No Impact Man

no impact man

This year’s Composition Common Read text is “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 Live in the Process,” by Colin Beavan.

In this book, Beavan details a year-long effort that he, his wife and young daughter undertake to make as little environmental impact as possible, while living in the heart of New York City, going without electricity, motorized transportation, take-out food, and ….toilet paper.

The Composition Common Read committee chose this text for a number of important reasons.

  • Beavan calls into question just how much waste we produce, and whether our attempts to recycle are effective.
  • No Impact Man allows students to conduct primary and secondary research exploring environmental problems and solutions.
  • Beavan chronicled his experiment as a blogger–a real, world writer recording his experiences. This allows for the study of blogs as a genre, and the participation in blogging as a public-writing exercise.

We’ve got other ideas for using the text in the classroom. Read about those ideas here.








Students in Michael Piotrowski’s composition courses held an Earth Day Poster Session to share their research and writing projects with the UT community.

Read more about their work here.