Beavan had some flawed logic with his project, mainly that his goal is to have zero impact for a whole year yet he did different phases so during the early parts of the project his family had a much greater impact than the later parts.
His project from what I remember from both watching the documentary three times, taking notes on it, and reading his book had three phases. The first phase of his no impact project was creating no waste. The second phase was eating locally. The third was no electricity. The last phase to his project was one of my favorites, giving back. No matter how much we try we leave an impact from having been here, he realized this. His goal was to create a positive impact to counter the negative impacts he couldn't avoid.
During the first phase of his project he was attempting to create no trash, to do this he quit getting take out food, no grocery bags, reused jars, egg cartons, berry containers, milk containers, he even changed his razor. One of the products they were using making alot of trash was his baby girls diapers. They switched to cloth, which I'm a huge fan of!!! According to the documentary 49 million disposable diapers are sent to landfills EVERY DAY! I would guess during that year they only sent one or two trash bags to the landfill all year!
Phase two local eating: defined by Colin as within 250 miles. Beavan frequented the local farmers market. They lost weight with their new diet, got healthier, supported their local economy, made new friends, and knew where their food came from. In addition to all those benefits the food was significantly fresher and used much less fossil fuels since it was transported a maximum of 250 miles, whereas our food is transported on average 1,500 miles on average according to numerous sources.
Phase three of his plan involved no electricity. He did get a solar panel for his laptop to continue his work, and blog for this project. His family had no air conditioning, no real fridge, and no lights other than candles. They bought natural candles beeswax I believe, spent more time outside, and tried two different strategies for a fridge a "pot in the pot" then switched to a cooler with ice mooched from their neighbor. While I found this a bit drastic they did it for 6 months which shows their dedication!
The last phase in Colin's plan was the positive impact phase. This phase was more philosophical than anything else but Colin and his family live in New York and he went to the Bronx to clean and weed the tree areas to keep the trees alive and thriving, he also helped with a clean the bay project introducing oysters to clean the water. Colin has also helped other participate in shorter no impact projects and talked about his project publicly to encourage others to be considerate of the planet and our children.
Not part of the phases was cutting out transportation of any kind, which they did for the most part with a few exceptions. Colin also got into worm composting, although he didn't do his research about it first and encountered a few problems. Colin and his family started a war on our "disposable culture" and even quit using toilet paper, people made mockery of this of course claiming it was unhygienic and a newpaper article about his project was dubbed "The Year without toilet paper". I can't speak as to the hygienic issue, however a fried told me about one of her friends who happens to be a nurse who is also an environmentalist and she nor her family use toilet paper and according to her the way she does it is perfectly hygienic, personally I will stick to my Ology but I have respect for people to do something that drastic because they care about something bigger than them!
During the project Colin and his family also learned to make thier own products. One of the main products in these products they used however was Borax, while it is naturally occuring it is also a poison and can be toxic to marine life. While they are are still debating it as a eco friendly product or not I would go with better safe than sorry and avoid it when its possible to find green recipes that are Borax free. Borax is also mined which should be considered when viewing its eco friendly factor!