You might recognize Colin Beavan as the star of the documentary “No Impact Man”, or you may have read his book by the same name, but you might soon be seeing him in a completely different capacity – as a congressman. Beavan announced last week that he is running for Congress in central Brooklyn’s 8th Congressional District on the Green Party ticket. Citing what he describes as “growing world crises” in climate change, the environment, economics and energy production, he is calling for an end to the traditional Democratic-Republican debate in Washington and pushing for a focus on local economic development. To that end, the issues on which Beavan is campaigning include the end of corporate money in politics, food stamps for use at farmers’ markets and the “prioritizing of human connections before good consumption.”
Beavan’s transformation into a relentless environmental activist accelerated five years ago. He and his family stopped using the elevator to their ninth floor apartment in Manhattan. They avoided the use of laundry machines and instead used the apartment’s bathtub. And for one year, the family turned the clock back to the 19th century, living without most modern conveniences, including electricity and toilet paper. His wife, from whom he is currently separated, rode a scooter to her job at Business Week – rain, shine or snow.
Beavan will face an uphill battle against the traditional Democratic stronghold to replace retiring U.S. Representative Edolphus Towns. Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries is favored to win the Democratic primary, but first Jeffries has to defeat City Councilman Charles Barron. Alan Ballone, a t-shirt printing company owner in Sheepshead Bay will run on the Republican ticket.
For Beavan, his jump into politics is more than just telling people to buy used products, recycle and compost. He claims the bigger issues involve the decisions over lifestyle and societal choices that our current economic system renders impossible. As the campaign kicks in, he faces the rough and tumble world of New York politics. And as is the case with mainstream politicians, Beavan will have to face the hard choices. Case in point: a question from the New York Times about Beavan’s avoidance of toilet paper for a year went unanswered.