Following her eco-friendly debut, Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living, self-sufficiency expert Niemann focuses now on practical ways to be green while saving money through informed consumer choices, such as how to avoid buying toxic products or their expensive alternatives (e.g., making laundry detergent with washing soda, borax, and soap) to reducing environmental harm and support personal health. In every chapter, from food to home to transportation, Niemann includes recipes or other straightforward guidance, along with cost comparisons, to make her ideas accessible and seemingly easy to implement. Because she covers so much territory, some ideas are bound to pique readers' interest, whether wine- or soap-making, gardening, bread baking, or clothes swapping parties. A homesteader herself, Niemann does not forgo technology when it provides the cleanest and cheapest option. She acknowledges, for instance, that using a reel mower for lawn care may not be practical for large lawns or busy people, and so she describes the differences between electric- and gas-powered options. Likewise, in her chapter on free stuff, Niemann discusses foraging in parks as well as foraging online. Small testimonials sprinkled throughout the book complement Niemann's encouraging tone, so that her advice does not come across as self-righteous or preachy, but more like insider tips from an experienced do-it-yourselfer. - Publishers Weekly review
I support & endorse this wonderful book, 100%. Ed Begley, Jr. Actor / Environmentalist
Those of us embarking on the journey of consuming less and enjoying ourselves more desperately need guidebooks, and Deborah Niemann has written one for us. Ecothrifty leads us gently down the path of changing the way we think about what we buy. I hope you will find this book the beginning of your engagement in a global movement to create a family life that is rich and abundant while sitting lighter on the planet that holds us all. Kathy Harrison, from the Foreword
If you care about the future of the Earth and her ecosystems and want to make a difference, pick up a copy of this book and read it cover to cover. You’re in for a treat! This book is chock-full of valuable information that could change your lifestyle and help create a sustainable world. Ecothrifty should be required reading for every citizen of the world.
Dan Chiras, Director, The Evergreen Institute, and author of The Homeowner’s Guide to Renewable Energy, and Power from the Sun evergreeninstitute.org
We started making greener, healthier choices in the 1980s, and after a few years I realized that we were actually saving a lot of money! Through the years, many people have said to me that they'd make greener choices, but it costs too much -- and that is where I got the idea to write this book. Although there are lots of companies out there that will be happy to charge you a lot of money for products that are greener, the simple fact is that you don't really need to buy those products to live a greener life.
Of course, at this point, a lot of people will say that making those greener choices is too complicated. Although there are countless recipes out there for making your own soaps, creams, laundry detergents, and cleaners, it doesn't have to be that complicated. Rather than giving you dozens of recipes to comb through, I explain what different ingredients do for you, so that you can more quickly figure out what will work best for you. For example, you can use baking soda as a facial scrub -- no mixing required, nothing artificial, and less than a penny per use. When it comes to moisturizers, I write about what different oils and butters do for your skin, so you can make an educated choice about which ones to try.
The final objection many people have about green living is that the quality of products is not as good as those "less green" commercial products. Of course, this is sometimes true, but it is also true that you can make your own _______ that will also be superior to what is commercially available. Although many people will try one commercial product after another to find one that works for them, I've heard a lot of people say that they tried one type of homemade ______ and didn't like it, so they are not going to try another one. Just as there are hundreds of formulations for commercial products, there are hundreds of possible formulas for homemade. For example, there are actually a multitude of natural products that you can use in place of commercial deodorant, and some work better for one person than another. The good news is that when you try a natural product, and it doesn't work for one thing, you can always use it for something else. If you don't like using coconut oil as a deodorant, it works great for popping popcorn! And you've probably already got a bottle of alcohol sitting in your medicine cabinet, so you have nothing to lose by trying it as a deodorant substitute.
The book does include some simple recipes, such as laundry detergent, body butter, and sugar scrubs. And there is a rather large chapter devoted to food because we all eat three times a day. The majority of the two dozen recipes are for things that can be used in a multitude of ways -- like the three bread recipes that can be used to make a huge variety of yeast bread products, including French bread, sandwich bread, dinner rolls, burger buns, soft pretzels, pizza, crackers, cinnamon rolls, and more! And because I don't have a lot of time, everything is written with busy people in mind, so there are no recipes that take a terribly long time to prepare. My motto is "quick, thrifty, and nutritious."
In addition to making your own personal care products and cooking from scratch, I also write about how you can save money on clothing, health and fitness, raising babies, cleaning your home, gardening, entertainment, and transportation. And the most important thing to remember is that you don't have to do everything at once! Start with something small and doable, and then try something else, and then try another thing, and then another, and so on. As you try one thing after another, you'll see how much money you're saving and that it isn't that complicated, and it will make it easier to try even more money-saving, greener ideas!
If you've read my first book, Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living
, this book was meant to be a good companion to it, as there is very little duplication between the two. The gardening chapter, which is only ten pages in Ecothrifty
, is the only subject that is duplicated between the two books, but even then, the two books contain some different information. Although Homegrown and Handmade
has detailed directions and recipes for soapmaking, Ecothrifty
has more in-depth information on the various oils that can be used for soap, as well as other body care products.