- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Rodale Books; First edition (April 1, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594867925
- ISBN-13: 978-1594867927
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 65 customer reviews
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Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home Paperback – April 1, 2008
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About the Author
Renée Loux, author of Living Cuisine and the Gourmand Award-winning The Balanced Plate, is a celebrated (and celebrity) raw foods chef. Host of the TV show Easy Being Green,she works as an eco-advisor for companies, spas, and hotels. Renée lives with her husband Shep Gordon in a house run on solar energy in Maui, Hawaii.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Green Living Is Easy
etymology: akin to Old English growan, to grow;
3. pleasantly alluring; 10c. tending to preserve environmental quality (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary)
3. concerned with or supporting protection of the environment (Oxford English Dictionary)
1. the action of leading one's life; alive (Oxford English Dictionary)
Green living is easy once you know what to do. Just about every corner of your life and home offers ample opportunities to be green, without requiring you to sacrifice comfort or convenience. This chapter is an opening volley on how to be green by making simple choices that will improve the quality of your life and have a gentler impact the environment. It's an overview of topics that are delved into more deeply in the rest of this book and a look at some basic information that will help you reflexively make smart choices to be a green consumer, such as taking inventory of what labels really mean and identifying the part we can play in the waste stream of trash and recycling. It's a great place to get your bearings and step up to ride the green wave that's happening everywhere.
It seems that one of the great modern conundrums is that we have been convinced, largely by the media, that the environmental, political, and social issues we are facing are so great that they are out of our control. But the truth is that we as individuals and consumers have potent power to influence the laws of supply and demand, of ecology and economy, and of give-and-take that shape our world. The power to do what's good and right is in our hands every day.
Green living is as fundamentally essential as life gets and, frankly, it's our duty. Being green isn't a privilege or a luxury, it's a responsibility we all need to accept, because a healthy, safe environment is the backbone of everything we rely on to live, thrive, and survive. Choosing to be green is not just about the far-flung corners of the planet or generations that have yet to be born, it's about immediately improving our lives and the quality of living every day. The brilliant beauty of being green is that it not only serves the planet, it also serves us. Choosing to clean kindly with nontoxic and biodegradable products not only protects our precious freshwater supplies and aquatic ecosystems from contamination, it also prevents the buildup of chemical residues in our homes and improves indoor air quality. Curbing the use of plastic for food containers, shower curtains, and water bottles not only prevents mass pollution from the petroleum extraction, manufacturing, and disposal of those products, it also reduces our exposure to health-endangering plastic additives as well. Conserving energy with smart, efficient practices and products not only decreases the emissions of overburdened power plants, it also saves us money on our utility bills. Opting for natural personal care products and cosmetics instead of those made with synthetic, petroleum-based ingredients not only curbs the manufacturing of chemicals, which ultimately end up in the water, air, and soil, it will also make your skin and hair healthier and more beautiful. It's a win-win relationship.
Being responsible stewards of our beautiful, complex world and governing our actions with accountable etiquette is both selfless and selfish--it helps the planet and helps us. It's said that "many hands make light work," and if each of us does our own small part in making this world a better, cleaner, safer place, everything is possible. As Abe Lincoln said, "Let us have faith that right makes might, and ... let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it." And, that duty can be done every day by making easy, green choices that add up to eminent, great change.
25 Ways to Go Green
Here are 25 simple ways to be greener. Start small. Start anywhere. It feels good because it's the right thing to do--and that's contagious.
A Greener Home
1. Clean kindly.
* Use plant-based, biodegradable soaps and detergents.
* Use all-purpose and surface cleaners that contain plant-based solvents, and use ammonia-free glass cleaners.
* Lose cleaners that contain chlorine.
* If the ingredients are not fully disclosed on a product label (or you can't pronounce them), choose a product you can trust!
2. Be wise with laundry.
* Wash full loads to get the most out of water and energy use.
* Rinse laundry with cold water. Eighty-five to 90 percent of the energy used to wash clothes goes to heat the water.1
* Use plant-based, biodegradable detergents that don't have chemical fragrances or dyes.
* Opt out of using chlorine bleach. Choose oxygen bleach instead--it's color safe, fabric friendly, and eco-brilliant. Line dry what you can. It saves energy and money and extends the life of your clothes.
* Line dry what you can. It saves energy and money and extends the life of your clothes.
Next Green Step: When you're looking for a new washer or dryer, look for high-efficiency models to save a bundle of energy, water, and money in the long run. (See Chapter 6 for details, tips, and products.)
3. Choose natural personal care products and cosmetics.
Choose pure products made with pronounceable, plant-based ingredients. Opt for natural beauty and grooming products that don't have petroleum-based chemicals and synthetic ingredients--especially paraben preservatives (such as methylparaben, propylparaben, sodium lauryl sulfate, and sodium laureth sulfate), and synthetic or vaguely identified fragrances or colorants. It will do your body and the planet a gorgeous world of good.
* Choose soaps and body washes that are plant based and free of synthetic fragrances and colors. They are naturally biodegradable, which is better for you and the planet.
* Use face and body moisturizers made with pure, plant-based, and botanical ingredients to keep your skin hydrated and healthy without chemicals and synthetic preservatives.
* For lustrous locks, choose natural hair care products that are sans petrochemical foaming agents and paraben preservatives.
* Go for naturally effective deodorants and duck away from those that contain aluminum and other chemicals.
* Attention, ladies! Choose organic, nonchlorine-bleached feminine products. It's a wise, health-savvy, eco-smart move for your precious body and the planet. (See Chapter 5 for the in-depth scoop on personal care products.)
4. Go for recycled, naturally bleached toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues.
Majestic trees are too precious to put in the toilet. (See number 11, on page 6, for more on trees.) Buy postconsumer recycled paper goods. I am not suggesting that you use sandpaper-grade toilet paper on your hindquarters; there are fluffy recycled papers that are made snowy white with safe oxygen bleach instead of dastardly chlorine (see "Dioxins," on page 42, and "Green Solution: Oxygen Bleach," on page 244, for more on bleach). Ditto for paper towels and tissues. (See "Green Thumb Guide: Toilet Paper and Facial Tissues" on page 165 for a guide to products.
5. Use unbleached coffee filters for a dioxin-free cup o' joe.
Some great things come in small packages. Choosing unbleached coffee filters is a grand act that requires little effort. Bleaching paper with chlorine--coffee filters included--is a notorious source of truly malevolent dioxins, which are some of the most toxic substances on the planet.
And dioxins migrate! Studies clearly show that brewing coffee with chlorine- bleached filters leaches detectable amounts of dioxins into the coffee--up to 24 percent of the dioxins migrate into your cup of java.2 This means that if you drink coffee brewed with conventionally bleached filters, you will definitely ingest dioxins.3 According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the use of chlorine-bleached coffee filters gives you enough dioxins to exceed a lifetime of "acceptable levels."
Next Green Step: Procure a reusable coffee filter or French press to opt out of using disposable filters.
Note: Buy "fair trade" coffee to stay on socially and environmentally sound ground. Fair-trade products ensure fair terms for farmers, adhering to internationally agreed-upon standards for wages, labor rights, and conditions and minimum prices to protect farmers and promote sustainable production methods. It's feel-good java for drinkers and farmers alike.
6. Install a water filter.
Clean, safe water without all the waste: Brilliant. You'll use fewer plastic water bottles, which means using less energy and fewer resources to make the bottles and less fuel to ship them around for delivery, and creating less waste. Fresh, clean water is a necessity, not a luxury.
More than half of Americans drink bottled water, and more than a third of us do it on a regular basis4 5 --that adds up to billions of gallons of bottled water and more than $15 billion in sales annually. A majority of bottled-water drinkers do so out of concern about the healthfulness and safety of tap water,6 and for good reason--more than 60 percent of municipal facilities across the country violate their Clean Water Act permits,7 meaning that the water supplied by these facilities may contain contaminants and chemicals. In fact, the EPA estimates that more than 2,100 known contaminants and toxic chemicals are in our drinking water, several of which are known poisons and carcinogens.8
Bottled water might be cleaner, but boy, does it produce a mountain of waste, and golly, is it expensive. Though the demand for recycling is pretty high, the actual rate of recycling water bottles is dismally low (about 12 percent in 2003).9 The result is that 40 million bottles every day are thrown in with the rubbish. That's a lot of plastic. Installing a water filter simply makes a lot of sense.
7. Get a low-flow toilet, or make your existing toilet low flow.
Old-school toilets guzzle water like it's going out of style. About a third of the water used at home is flushed down the toilet.10
Older standard toilets swallow 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush. New, low-flow toilets send away as little as 1.6 gallons per flush, for a savings of 54 to 77 percent of water used for the john (which can mean a savings of 16 to 23 percent of total water use at home).
You can easily retrofit any toilet for lower-flow efficiency without compromising performance by displacing water in the toilet's reservoir. Install a toilet dam (a water displacement device), or simply submerge a full plastic water bottle or two in the tank. Save water and the planet one flush at a time. See "Low-Flow Toilets: Save Water, Save Money!" on page 162 for details.
8. Don't be a drip--fix leaky faucets and toilets.
A leaky faucet or shower that loses water at the rate of one drip per second can waste 3,000 gallons of water a year.11 Don't be a drip; save money and water resources by fixing it!
A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water a day.12 Talk about flushing away money and resources! The traditional test to find out if a toilet is leaking is to add food dye to the tank (I've used unsweetened cranberry juice to avoid using chemicals). If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 15 minutes. Most replacement parts are cheap, readily available, and easily installed. Note: Flush as soon as the test is done to avoid staining the tank and bowl.
9. Kick off your shoes.
Removing your shoes at the door is not just a pleasant custom, it also prevents you from tracking a host of unwanted things like pesticides and herbicides into your home. Other shoe hitchhikers include synthetic lawn fertilizers, lead, toxic cleaners used on outdoor surfaces like decks and patios, and wood preservatives. Yikes!
It's just common sense, like washing your hands before eating or covering your mouth when sneezing. Taking off your shoes is an especially good idea if your floors are clad in carpeting, which can rub all that nasty stuff off your soles and accumulate it.
Scientists suspect that exposure to dangerous pesticides from the "tracked in" route might trump the most well known source--conventionally grown fruits, vegetables, and animal products.13 That's pretty serious, especially for families with young kids, where everything on the floor eventually ends up in the little 'uns mouths.
Get a welcome mat. A doormat outside and an entryway rug inside also help to collect toxins that are tracked in and prevent these substances from migrating throughout the house. Doormats are simple and smart, and they look nice, too.
10. Bring in houseplants!
Houseplants literally grow fresh air by producing clean, fresh oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide and chemicals such as formaldehyde and benzene. The EPA estimates that indoor air is 2 to 10 times more polluted than outdoor air.14 The culprits? Synthetic materials found in furniture, carpeting, plywood, adhesives, mattresses, and shower curtains; chemical cleaning products; plastics; and chlorinated water are just a few.
Two small plants or one medium-size plant per 100 square feet will provide fresh air and healthy, mold-free humidity in any room so everyone can breathe deeply with ease. See page 71 for more on the benefits of houseplants.
11. Plant a tree every year.
Trees are the lungs of the planet. They heroically remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, storing it as cellulose in their woody parts, and generously release oxygen in its place. That is a sophisticated service that makes our very lives possible and has the potential to offset and reverse the currently rising levels of greenhouse gases. About half of the greenhouse gases that are causing global warming are carbon dioxide emissions.
12. Opt out of getting junk mail.
Do you know anyone who likes junk mail? Me neither. More than 62 billion pieces of junk mail are delivered to American mailboxes every year15 -- that's about 41 £ds a person.16 About 100 million trees and 28 billion gallons of water17 are used annually to produce the 5.8 million tons of catalogs and unsolicited wads of preap proved credit card offers and other junk30 that arrive at our homes--44 percent of which are thrown away unopened.31 But there are ways to reduce the onslaught, and therefore the wasting of the trees and the energy that is needed to truck around these mountains of mail.
How Trees Help to Keep Our Air Clean
* A single mature tree can absorb almost 50 £ds of carbon dioxide a year and produce enough oxygen to sustain two adults.18
* If every American family planted just one tree a year, it would remove more than a billion £ds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually-- which in 1992 was about 5 percent of the worldwide output.19
* Trees absorb all kinds of pollutants, such as gaseous pollutants like sulfur dioxide from coal-burning power plants, nitrous oxides from vehicle exhaust, and particulate pollutants from burning fuel, especially diesel fuel. A mature tree can absorb 120 to 240 £ds per year.20
* Urban areas that are well planted with trees have up to 60 percent less street-level particulate pollution.21
* Trees are natural air conditioners that keep cities cooler. Just one large, healthy tree has a cooling effect that is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners running for 20 hours a day.22
* Tree cover can reduce asphalt temperature by as much as 36°F and the interior temperature of parked cars by more than 47°F.23
* Trees reduce noise pollution by absorbing sound.
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Loux speaks to her audience in a clear and concise manner that is respectful and encouraging; one does not feel preached to while reading her suggestions. The information is organized well and each chapter follows the same pattern which make it much easier to find information when needed in the future. The endnotes are well documented and the index is a phenominal reference for the book.
On a personal note, I used to keep to myself about my "green" choices. This book really inspired me to share what I know with friends and family. Like so many, I always hate to feel like I'm preaching so I give this book as a gift. I put no more than three sticky notes on pages that I think the recipient will like. I include the book in a basket (or cleaning bucket) with a bottle of Dr. Bronner - Organic Castile Soap Unscented Baby-Mild, 32 fl oz liquid, a box of baking soda, a recipe card for the cleaner I use, a couple of reusable wash rags, and a spray bottle with pre-made cleaner so my giftee can try it out. Everyone looks at it funny at first, but after a couple of weeks I start to hear how much they love the book!
I used to have to reference all of this information in the binder I've collected it in through the years, but I finally have an easy to reference book and I love it!!
My copy is already full of highlighted sections and tabbed pages, and every one of the recipes I've tried has been a success. If you don't feel like mixing up your own concoctions, she has pages of recommended product choices that also work well.
I am especially happy with the in-depth information about aromatherapy at home through the use of essential oils. We are so fortunate to live at a time when oils of peppermint, lavender, tea tree and so many others are easily and reasonably available. This book explains how to use all these essential oils throughout the home.
I'm already planning to re-order for gifts, as I think anyone would find useful information here. So many books try to cover this area. Renee Loux succeeds!