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Sleeping Naked Is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days Paperback – June 11, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Canadian journalist Farquharson takes readers on her 366-day journey to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle, making one positive change each day. While a few changes are worthy (the author sells her car), some seem a bit bizarre (she turns off her fridge and freezer—though she doesn't divulge exactly where her food is coming from after that point) and many are superficial or symbolic efforts rather than well thought out and executed commitments. In her first month, for example, she pledges to check her tire pressure and opt for natural glass cleaners, while three months later she's promising to fill the kettle with exact amount of water needed, recycle her wine corks and forgo Q-tips. While the details of her environmental crusade can weary, her griping about the efficacy of chemical-free shampoos and deodorants and the ugliness of sustainable footwear is fresh and funny; in these moments, Farquharson's appealing candor and nonsanctimonious attitude make other ecowarriors seem dour by comparison. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Toronto-based arts reporter Farquharson decides to take the green plunge and live as ecologically as possible for a year while blogging about her daily efforts and conundrums. Young and single, she worries about losing her hipster cred by acting like a hippie, so she begins her greening with “baby steps” while imagining Al Gore looking over her shoulder. Writing anecdotally with friendly candor and blithe humor, Farquharson makes each of her carefully considered attempts at reducing waste, pollution, and her carbon footprint entertaining and informative. Many of her strategies for sustainable living involve shopping, whether it’s using tote bags or selecting phosphate-free soaps and organic produce, and the very ordinariness of her choices drives home the fact that every aspect of our daily lives has an environmental impact. After she unplugs her refrigerator and gives up pajamas to cut down on laundry, Farquharson’s green year ends, and she discovers that her eco-practices have become a natural part of her life. Lively and specific, Farquharson’s forthright chronicle of the ups and downs of green awareness is the perfect book for eco-skeptics. --Donna Seaman
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I have already made some of the green changes that Ms. Farquharson suggests. Not being a hard-core environmentalist, they are changes I never thought of making before reading her book. Her book has made a difference, if even in a small way, and that is probably the highest praise you can give to an author.
The author was determined to write a book that is interesting and entertaining because she finds the approach that many "hippies" take to sustainability to be smug and a turnoff to the larger population. The book is entertaining. The only criticism I have is that the author tries very hard to be cute and funny in every sentence. Sometimes it works, sometimes it seems forced. Life is about a range of emotions, and I do not like it when an author tries to find humor in everything.
The purists will be disappointed. Ms. Farquharson continues to act in ways that will harm the environment, such as flying to Israel to see relatives. She explains at one point that using alternatives, such as Skype, just isn't the same. She also mentions all the criticism that Al Gore received for flying around to promote his movie, but she makes a good case that had he stayed home the movie would have received much less attention and the green gospel would not have spread as quickly or as far. She admits to being a "sinner," and frankly, it is easier to take suggestions from someone who is not an extremist than from someone who is.
The author is a young woman in her 20s looking for love, and she includes her search for romance in the book. This makes sense, because the year is not just about the green changes, but about what is happening in her life. Although it is certainly not the intent of the author, and it is a side issue, I thought her approach to romance was interesting. She "hooks up" with a man, thinking it won't go any further, then lives with him briefly until she realizes it won't work. Finding romance at the end of the book means that someone else is moving in with her. Most likely, she considers this behavior completely normal and has never considered approaching relationships in any other way. I'm not criticizing the author, because I do not consider her actions to be immoral. Nevertheless, I wonder if our great grandmothers were not a lot smarter than us, because many of them did not sleep with a man until he had made a lifelong commitment to them and was ready to be a father to any children that came along. Rather than getting married, we now have a series of "relationships," some of which can last for years. Of course, some live in-relationships end in marriage, but I have also seen many cases where the woman wants to take the "next step" toward marriage, but the man does not. All the while, the woman's biological clock is ticking, and she has spent years on a relationship that isn't going to turn out the way she wants. I hope it works out for Ms. Farquharson.
Vanessa is a pretty normal twenty-seven year old. She likes fashion, pop fiction, food, wine, and dreams of having a boyfriend. But then she decides to green up her life and go ahead and make a new change every day in her life. These things run the gamut from turning off the fridge completely to writing haiku instead of regular poetry. Granted some of these things seem kind of superficial, but I think doing so many allows for a few of those. She also takes a few trips and meets other green bloggers; interviews celebrities, and also learns a little bit about composting, toilets, and other green initiatives.
The writing is done in short bursts. She outlines what she plans to do that month, and then tells snippets of some of the days. Some of the snippets are several paragraphs long, and others are only a few sentances. They are often humourous, telling of some of her exploits and failures of some of her Green acts. Others are more serious and detail how the change impacts her life in either a negative or positive way. She also maintained a blog for this endeavor, so everything is more than likely written in greater detail there as well. I do have to say that I would have preferred if some of the entries were longer. I would just get into a topic and it would end and go into a different day. It just felt very rushed.
She meets several unique people in her green journey. From Jamie Oliver to No Impact Man, she really expresses how nice the people are. It's a great way of writing about them. And even though there's not a lot of time devoted to any of them, I think she does a good job of expressing their character in the small bit she has for them. I also like that there was a lot of varied people. From her friends, to some of the other people she meets in Oregon on her bike tour, she never lacks for someone interesting to talk to.
I enjoyed reading this book for the most part. There are a lot of different things I'm eager to try myself, and Vanessa leads a pretty interesting life. Not a bad read and I may have to check out the blog as well.
Sleeping Naked Is Green
Review by M. Reynard 2012