ABC Again Hypes ‘Noble’ Environmentalist Who Shuns Toilet Paper

On Monday’s "Good Morning America," for the second time in less than two months, the ABC program featured a gushing segment on a liberal environmentalist’s "noble experiment" of forgoing toilet paper and all other modern amenities in order to have "no impact" on the Earth.

GMA weatherman Sam Champion, who is himself a promoter of extremist environmental beliefs, touted how the year-long project could be "fun." Co-anchor Chris Cuomo marveled at how Colin Beavan, or No Impact Man, as he likes to be called, is trying to "do nothing to hurt the environment." "Ooh, respect that," he murmured in a tease for the segment. In an unintentionally funny moment, when Cuomo noted that he couldn’t "go without" toilet paper, this exchange followed:

Chris Cuomo: "Can’t go without [toilet paper]. Can’t be that green, Sam. Can’t be that green."

Sam Champion: "I want to help you."

Help how?

In the 8:30am tease for the segment, guest co-host Juju Chang deemed the project a "noble experiment." The experiment in question features self described "tree-hugging lunatic" Colin Beavan and his family refraining from using electricity, elevators and cars for a year. They are currently at the midway point of the endeavor. At no time in the segment, or the one in May, did Champion or anyone else challenge the environmentalist or wonder how much sense it makes to cheer on a man who is abstaining from toilet paper. Indeed, in the tease, Champion seemed to want to downplay that particular angle:

Cuomo: "...This is the guy who says, ‘I don’t use toilet paper because it’s bad for the environment?’"

Champion: "This is the guy. It started a big headline. It’s just a small part of it. But, you know, they wanted to take it to the extreme. So, it’s an experiment."

Juju Chang: "It’s a noble experiment."

Champion: "Right. And they’re not saying– It really is. And they’re not saying everybody has to do all of this. But there’s some take-away things that we’ll be able to do at home. And you can even have your toilet paper and still help the planet."

Although Mr. Champion did refer to Beavan and his wife Michelle Conlin as "extreme" on more than one occasion, he clearly meant the word in an admiring way. At one point in the interview, he referred to the project as a "great idea." Later, he allowed Beavan to lecture Americans about flying too much:

Champion: "Now, you’re writing a book and we know, to other people at home and everyone I’ve talked to about this, goes, ‘Well, that’s so extreme!’ We know that. This is an experiment. You’re writing a book, but hopefully we can take something back to our houses that we can use a little less of or do without. What are some of those things you think we can do?"

Colin Beavan: "Well, I mean, a big change we could all make is just to fly a little less, drive a little less, use a little less power. To– If we were– For example, if you’re flying away twice for two weekends, why not turn it into a one week-long trip and have, reduce your flying by 50 percent in that way, because flying makes a big difference in the carbon emissions."

Champion closed the segment with this endorsement of how viewers can follow Beavan through his website:

Sam Champion: "We continue to follow him and you can follow him through our website, get connected to his website. You can find out more about renewable energy and what you can do at home to maybe play with this experiment all through ABCNews.com."

What’s on Beavan’s website? Well, this banner greets readers:

"A guilty liberal finally snaps, swears off plastic, goes organic, becomes a bicycle nut, turns off his power, composts his poop and, while living in New York City, generally turns into a tree-hugging lunatic who tries to save the polar bears and the rest of the planet from environmental catastrophe while dragging his baby daughter and Prada-wearing, Four Seasons-loving wife along for the ride."

Now, Beavan calls himself a "tree-hugging lunatic" and a "guilty liberal." Yet, those are characterizations that GMA would probably never employ.

A transcript of the June 25 segment, which aired at 8:41am, follows:

8am tease

Sam Champion: "And we call him ‘No Impact Man. We’re checking in. It’s an update on– It’s an experiment. A year without this family trying to make no impact on the environment at all. [SIC] They’re trying to live as if they were making no impact. Saving money, saving energy. Could you do it as an American family? And, by the way, how are they doing? They’re half way into their experiment. We’ll talk about it this morning."

Chris Cuomo: "No impact at all? So they do nothing to hurt the environment?

Champion: "He’s trying."

Cuomo: "Ooh, respect that. I like that. No impact."

Champion: "No trash. No– All that."

8:30am tease

Champion: "And, and this experiment. Could an American family live for a year without making an impact on the environment? Could it happen? One man, No Impact Man, we call him. His experiment. He’s half way through it. We’ll talk to him."

Cuomo: "Well, this is the guy who says, ‘I don’t use toilet paper because it’s bad for the environment?’"

Champion: "This is the guy. It started a big headline. It’s just a small part of it. But, you know, they wanted to take it to the extreme. So, it’s an experiment."

Juju Chang: "It’s a noble experiment."

Champion: "Right. And they’re not saying– It really is. And they’re not saying everybody has to do all of this. But there’s some take-away things that we’ll be able to do at home. And you can even have your toilet paper and still help the planet."

Cuomo: "Thank you, Sam. Kid from Queens. Can’t go without it. Can’t be that green, Sam. Can’t be that green."

Champion: "I want to help you."  

8:41am

ABC Graphic: "Going Green to the Extreme: No Lights, No Car, No Coffee"

Champion: "He’s given up trains, planes, automobiles, sworn off coffee, electricity. And, yeah, everyone says, even toilet paper. I’m talking about No Impact Man, Colin Beavan, who with his family is living without modern conveniences for an entire year. Now, that’s to see if an American family could actually live with no impact on the environment. Now, he’s at the midway of his experiment. Let’s see how the Beavan family is doing. No lights. No electricity. No impact. No problem."

Colin Beavan: "Honestly, when we first turned the electricity off, the first night, I was like, ‘What are we doing?’"

Champion: "For about seven months now, Colin Beavan, his wife Michelle and their two-year-old daughter Isabella have been urban pioneers going to the extreme, a family with a year-long experiment of no impact on the environment. Since we last saw them, the Beavans have shut off their circuit breaker. Now, the only power to their Manhattan apartment from this single solar panel on their building’s roof."

Beavan: "The only thing this powers right now is my computer."

Champion: "It’s the final stage in the year-long experiment with strict guidelines. Of course, no electricity, nothing bought new. All food bought from local sources. No elevators and all transportation their own leg work."

Beavan [On his bike]: "This is the no-impact-mobile."

Champion: "The warm weather is helping, they say. Everyday, Michelle scooters from work and they all meet up in the park for some impact-free family fun. Heading home together, it’s a brisk walk up nine flights of stairs. And as nighttime descends over New York, dinner by candlelight, natural beeswax, of course. Followed by some personal time with some mood lighting provided. Over half way through the experiment and they say they’ve changed in ways they never imagined."

Michelle Conlin: "There’s something about this project that increases the intimacy and the connection between us."

[Pre-taped segment ends]

Champion: "Nice support from Michelle, by the way. Now, Colin Beavan joins us for an update on his self-styled experiment. I know we can’t all do this and we’re going to talk about that. But first, let’s talk about Michelle. You had this great idea. You had to kinda talk her into it. How’s she doing with the whole thing?"

Beavan: "You know, at first it was hard for her and– But then, what happened is we found that there was a lot of benefits to it too. You know, for one thing, we’re a lot more fit because we eat better and we get more exercise."

Champion: "You are more fit."

Beavan: "Yeah, but for another thing, you know, one of the things that we’ve lost is the TV. And so, our, our family time has moved from sitting in front of the TV not talking to each other, to sitting in the kitchen during our meals and really talking to each other and spending time outdoors. ‘Cause there’s no lights in the house and we spend a lot more time outside now with our little girl. So, in a way, it’s really strengthened our family."

Champion: "And so, candlelight, not just romantic, it’s actually just the way for you two guys to see each other at dinner. Right?"

Beavan: "Everything is romantic for us now."

Champion: "Now, how– By the way, your little daughter, Isabella, right?"

Beavan: "Isabella."

Champion: "How’s she doing through all this? How’s she handling it?"

Beavan: "Oh, well, you know, she’s not even two and a half yet. So, for her, everything is just fun. You know, I put her on– I walk up and down stairs with her and she goes, ‘Shoulders, daddy. Shoulders.’ So, I throw her on my shoulders and we go up the stairs. She thinks it’s great."

Champion: "Quickly about the electricity, you’ve completely unplugged. You’re not using any power other than your solar panel. What do you miss the most out of that?"

Beavan: "I think probably the refrigerator. And the reason for that is that I just have to shop everyday because, you know, to bring the food in fresh. So, the fridge is what I miss."

Champion: "Now, you’re writing a book and we know, to other people at home and everyone I’ve talked to about this, goes, ‘Well, that’s so extreme!’ We know that. This is an experiment. You’re writing a book, but hopefully we can take something back to our houses that we can use a little less of or do without. What are some of those things you think we can do?"

Beavan: "Well, I mean, a big change we could all make is just to fly a little less, drive a little less, use a little less power. To– If we were– For example, if you’re flying away twice for two weekends, why not turn it into a one week-long trip and have, reduce your flying by 50 percent in that way, because flying makes a big difference in the carbon emissions."

Champion: "Now, and you started this with these grand ideas of how, what you can do and what you can’t do. Is there anything along the way that you realized, wait, I thought I could do this, but we just can’t do this?"

Beavan: "Well, I can’t figure out a replacement for the natural gas in my stove. There’s such a thing a bio-gas, which is gas that is taken from cow manure or from garbage dumps. And the methane, which is the same thing that is in natural gas, but it’s not widely enough available for me to use in my stove. And–"

Champion: "And it’s a little hard to bottle your own methane from cattle. I mean, you don’t want to– I mean, think about it. It’s not easy."

Beavan: "No. No. No."

Champion: "But, so that’s the one thing you’re still using?"

Beavan: "Yes. That’s the one thing."

Champion: "Now, folks are traveling with you on your web page. They connect with you. They talk to you about these other ideas. Um, and we’ll help them do that. We’ll talk about how other people can get involved in that. But first of all, we usually send a car to get somebody, to bring them to the show. But we didn’t have to do that with you."

Beavan: "No."

Champion: "Because, really and truly, even when you’re sitting here talking with us, you’re still working on the experiment. So how did you get here?"

Beavan: "I rode my bike."

Champion: "Yeah. And it’s actually in the greenroom."

Beavan: "Yes, it is."

Champion: "So all these things that you’re doing, and people sometimes are skeptical, but you’re actually through this to see if it can be done."

Beavan: "Well, the idea is we’re so attached to so many modern conveniences, and we have this idea– We’ve inherited this way of life and we think we need so much, so the big question is what could I do with out? Let’s really look at what can I do without? Because maybe I don’t need as much stuff as I thought and not only that, maybe life could be better without certain things."

Champion: "And that’s the fun part. And we keep saying, people are traveling with you and you can do it along with him. And so, we really want to thank you, Colin, for being here, No Impact Man. We continue to follow him and you can follow him through our website, get connected to his website. You can find out more about renewable energy and what you can do at home to maybe play with this experiment  all through ABCNews.com.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org