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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Living Paperback – September 4, 2007
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About the Author
Trish Riley is an award-winning environmental journalist who has written for such publications as Natural Home, E/The Environmental Magazine, Audubon Magazine, Palm Beach Cottages and Living, Florida Inside-Out, Miami Herald, South Florida Business Journal, and South Florida Parenting.
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The book is broken down into chapters that allow you to access all the information for the particular area of your life that you want to do better with. I absolutely love the little boxes showing "Hazard" areas, for example, one of these "Hazard" boxes taught me that imported foods don't have to meet the same standards in their own countries to be labeled organic as they do here in the US. Another little Hazard box taught me not to pour vinegar down my drain (which I do all the time) right after pouring drain cleaner down it (!) because the chemical reaction could cause dangerous fumes.
It's useful information like this that I found sprinkled throughout the book, which is a very solid guide. The science is there if want it, but it's not over your head. The section in Chapter 12 on pesticides was very sobering, I had no idea that 1,400 various pesticide chemicals can be found in household products that we use every day. One of the tricks she mentioned was that you can reseed annually to keep weeds at bay and keep your grass thick. Now this is simple for those of you who understand gardening, but to a beginner like me (who is sensitive to many chemicals) this simple cost-effective trick is fascinating.
Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed so much were the "Going Green" boxes that I found in every chapter. These boxes contained useful tidbits to help you do better at home. One of the best "Going Green" tips that Riley put in Chapter 18 had to do with the fact that more than 3.5 million tons of paper --mostly junkmail & catalogs-- is sent out annually (in the form of catalogs) and you can save about 60 million trees by stopping the junk mail. She gives an address to write to, and a website you can visit to register online. By doing this, you will help save trees and cut down on junkmail. For me, this advice was worth the price of the book!
It's the little tidbits of information that I found in each chapter that I think makes this book worth buying. It's not a cover-to-cover read, it's more of a manual that you can call upon to use when you want to attack and fix an area of your home, garden, work, daily life, cosmetic drawer, kitchen pantry, etc...
I confess that I'm not as green as I'd like to be, I'm the sort that wants to drive a Jeep to Whole Foods, and while I avoid meat, I do own a couple of leather wallets...but still, I am trying hard to protect my family, and the Earth that we live in. I think Riley did a good job at getting ALOT of difficult information out to the world, and she did it in a very conversational, easy-to-understand way. I've read other books on the subject, but kept none because they were just to scientific, or too boring, or impractical to my real life. It's clear that Riley is quite intelligent, but I never felt like she was talking down to the reader. Instead, I felt a sense of passion about the planet, and her genuine desire to help those of us learn some simple ways to do our part. I am thrilled about getting started and in my own little way, I know I'll make a difference thanks to the sensible advice in this book. As far as I'm concerned, Riley rocks!!!
In general, I am probably doing all I can. I recycle as much of my garbage as I can, throwing old fruit, bread and such out to the "birdies and the beasties" that visit my yard. I don't use pesticides, instead I encourage the geckos and anoles and chameleons to take up residence in and around my place to eat the bugs. I also allow the wolf spiders to live under the furniture (just now out in my regions of the house) because while they're big and ugly, they do eat the bugs I really hate, including roaches.
This book, though, does give you a lot of information about how to keep your home and your family away from all the nasty chemicals. It also gives you things that you can do if you have money and want to feel less guilty about it. (grin) There's information on how to buy energy credits, hybrid cars, home furnishings that utilize recycled materials, and how to build alternative power sources into your home.
One of the things I found very interesting was the idea that it's perfect okay to have a lawn, as long as you don't use a lot of chemicals on it. In fact, having a lawn helps the environment. I'd always been of the mind that grass and the environment were rather at odds with each other, but they don't have to be.
The book lists lots of informational web sites, and gives basic run downs on organic gardening, the difference between eating "green" and what the market will try to sell you as "green," and the joys of learning to eat what is in season rather than demanding certain fruits and vegetables year round.
I hadn't put a lot of thought into the fact that eating fruit from South American means that it had to be transported to the USA, and that therefore, even if it was raised organically, it has mucked up the environment through shipping.
There's information on "ecotourism" wherein you can go to exotic places (buying energy credits so you don't have to feel guilty about the airfare), and then spend time in a natural hotel (meaning not air conditioned, built with local materials, and as environmentally sustainable as possible). There's apparently a place in China that is particularly nice.
Personally, I'll admit that if I'm going on vacation, I don't want to be where there's no air conditioning, no internet connection, and I really like my creature comforts. I mean, what's the point of a vacation if you're not being pampered?
But for people who love camping and outdoors activities, these are probably lovely places. I just prefer my expensive vacations to be a little more about my comfort. And yes, that's not environmentally sound, but hey, I won't have my sheets changed while I'm there and I'll be conservative with the towels. Okay?
The book is written clearly, and the information is presented well. The highlights are quotes from people who really know and understand the environment and the issues surrounding it. There's even suggestions of how you can talk to your children about living green, making it seem less like you're denying them things, and more like you're giving them something real that they can take into their lives and use.
If you want to know what all the possibilities are, this is a great book. It's simple, quick to read, and organized in a way that you can go back and find the information you want without having to plow through an index and hope you have the right key word.