Monday, November 2, 2009

Go Green, Save Green

We at Plant With Purpose would like to share a great new book written by our friend Nancy Sleeth of Blessed Earth. Go Green, Save Green will help you go green even when the economy is black.

The following book review by Alyce Gilligan was published on Happy reading and happy greening!

Go Green, Save Green

by Alyce Gilligan

The new book by Nancy Sleeth contains practical and thoughtful solutions for saving the earth—and money.

If ever the content of a book is a fulfillment of its cover description, it is Go Green, Save Green. This “simple guide to saving time, money, and God’s green earth” was written by Nancy Sleeth, co-director of the environmental nonprofit Blessed Earth, and she leaves no stone unturned, no paper unrecycled.

What’s most inspiring about this reference book is the fact that the author and her family really live the green life espoused within its pages. After some dramatic spiritual and personal events, the Sleeths took their “ecological footprinting,” and weren’t convinced that they were using their resources properly or respectfully. Nancy soon found herself residing happily in a home the size of their old garage, living on nine-tenths of the electricity they were accustomed to using. But it was apparent that a simpler and quieter life was actually more full than they could have ever imagined.

In Go Green, Save Green, Sleeth shares a wealth of eco-friendly knowledge collected over the years of living it out within her own home. The book is set up in chapters relating to each aspect of life that could merit an environmental makeover: Work, Transportation, Church, Food, Entertainment, Community, Lawn and Garden, etc. Within these chapters, Sleeth breaks down nearly every associated task, habit or hobby, introducing concepts such as “vermicomposting” and “xeriscaping”. (Yea. Google it.) Challenging factoids appear in brief lists and charts throughout the book, as well as related “Go Green” and “Save Green” tip boxes. The end of each chapter includes a checklist to get you started, as well as a chart showing just how much money you can save in that area of your life, and how you can be considerate and share some of this extra cash. (Planning on borrowing books and movies from your local library from now on? Give that $160 you save per year to a Boys & Girls Club.)

Sleeth adds a refreshingly human touch to this intimidating 406-page to-do list by sprinkling personal anecdotes here and there, as well as detailed prayers. After all, the point of this book is not only to help you consume less and save more, but to “change wasteful practices and bring our lifestyles more in line with our values … Sacrificing a bit of comfort to honor God’s creation will bring joy to your family while drawing you closer to him."

At times, Sleeth’s writing is sugary sweet, oozing maternal affection and discipline, which perhaps makes this green pill easier to swallow. So often, organizations or individuals can shame you into feeling you should take better care of the environment, but Sleeth neither pleads nor guilt-trips—she encourages. And occasionally gives you a good slap in the face. For example: “One-third of the tap water used for drinking in North America is used for brewing coffee. If each of us avoided wasting just one cup of coffee a day at work, we could save enough water over the course of a year to provide 2 gallons to the more than 1.1 billion people who don’t have access to fresh water at all.”

Wow. Let’s leave Mr. Coffee alone today, shall we?

Nearly every other page contains another mind-blowing and convicting fact. Switching to a low-flow showerhead saves 350 gallons of water a week and $73 a year. If everybody hung curtains for extra insulation, we’d conserve the amount of energy used by Japan. Using a hybrid car for five years as opposed to a conventional car saves up to $5,460. Three billion batteries are purchased in the United States annually, with almost the same amount being thrown away.

By the time I’d given the book a good read, I saw nearly every step of my day with new eyes—from my shower, to my lunch, to my morning commute. And let me tell you … what a waste. But the book points out that everyone is capable of making improvements, wherever they are at, and that this is a journey we are on together. Actually, community is key to living green. From pot lucks, to sharing tools, to carpooling, to buying local goods, many of Sleeth’s tips require reaching out to our neighbors and caring for the planet and our resources with a united effort. Go Green, Save Green is intended to be a guide book, not a quick or interesting read. But it is a vital resource. Keep it on your nightstand or in your kitchen. Use the checklists, fill out the energy audit work sheet. Look up Get inspired. If you were ever going to go green, this is the book you should refer to. Oh, Kermit, you were wrong. It’s not so difficult after all.

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