Book Review: The Green Year by Jodi Helmer
There’s a “green” way to do just about everything these days. With simple steps, you can save energy, time, money — and reduce your carbon footprint. There’s so much information available these days that sometimes it’s just overwhelming, especially for those just starting off on their eco-journey.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have bite-sized, practical tips that you could make use of right away, every day of the year?
The Green Year by Jodi Helmer is a great place to start. Helmer has sifted through mountains of data to create a reader-friendly guide with 365 tips that make green living (or greener living) easy to accomplish and fun to do.
This isn’t a book for the advanced greenie; many of the tips include things most died-in-the-wool environmentalists are doing already. But it’s a gift that’s sure to please a young graduate or newlyweds starting out on their own.
And, if your children’s school allows holiday gifts to teachers, this little book will be a surefire hit — way better than perfume she doesn’t like or candies that are not on his diet. Or how about your child’s Brownie leader or Cub Scout den mother?
Priced on Amazon at just over $10, it’s a useful and inexpensive book for any number of people on your gifting list. You might even want to buy it for yourself — then, in the true spirit of green living, pass it along to someone else when you’ve finished.
January through December
Though I’m a dedicated greenie, who spends lots of time looking for ways to make our household more ecologically respectful, I still found tips that surprised me. The following brief excerpts give just a taste from each month’s offerings:
January 19: “Toss your synthetic sponge and buy a sponge made of cellulose fibers instead. Synthetic sponges are made from nonrenewable resources and are often soaked in chemicals like triclosan that have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Triclosan is also a pesticide that could destroy aquatic life. Triclosan is one of the most common manmade chemicals found in our rivers and streams.…”
February 6: “Replace your toothbrush with an eco-friendly model…. Recycline (www.recycline.com) makes its toothbrush handles from recycled yogurt cups. When it’s time to replace your toothbrush, mail it back to the company in a postage-paid mailer and your old toothbrush will be turned into products like outdoor furniture….”
March 1: “Use hydrogen peroxide instead of bleach when you wash a load of whites…. Hydrogen peroxide is just as effective for whitening your clothes but has none of the harmful environmental effects of bleach….”
April 9: “Switch to eco-friendly diapers…. that are gentler on your baby’s skin and kinder to the environment.”
May: 10: “Toss lemon peels in the garden to keep cats from using your soil as a litter box. Citrus scents make cats cower and sneeze… Aphids are also repelled by citrus. Mix the grated rind from a lemon with water and spray it on any plants that are being attacked by the little bugs.”
June 30: “Switch to eco-friendly cat litter…. Strip-mining [for clay] … has destroyed thousands of acres of land and removed millions of tons of soil. Choose cat litter made from wheat, recycled newspaper, corn cobs, or other renewable materials that are biodegradable or easily composted.”
July 27: “Explore alternatives to fabric softener. Most liquid fabric softeners contain ammonium chloride, which can harm marine life…. Try pouring a quarter cup of white vinegar or a quarter cup of baking soda (but not both) into the rinse cycle….”
August 3: “Switch to an all-natural dishwasher detergent. Your dishwasher detergent probably contains petroleum-based products…. Opt for vegetable-based dishwasher detergent; the soap is milder and made from all-natural ingredients.”
September 25: “Buy some new crayons. Crayons are often made of paraffin wax, a product made from nonrenewable petroleum. [Others] might contain asbestos… Instead, choose crayons made from soybean oil….”
October 9: “Switch to a powdered laundry detergent. Liquid laundry detergent is almost 80 percent water — a valuable, nonrenewable resource. If 20,000 Americans switched to powdered laundry detergent, it would save 55,000 gallons of water per year….”
November 1: “Think twice before tossing your jack-o-lantern in the trash. Your Halloween pumpkin can provide a feast for wildlife. Smash the pumpkin into chunks and scatter the pieces in the backyard….”
December 29: “Buy artificial fire logs…. Artificial fire logs emit 75 percent less carbon monoxide and create 80 percent less particulate matter than real wood….”
Don’t Wait for the New Year
Not every tip will be new to you, but even the familiar ones may be good reminders to do those things you were going to “get around to one of these days.” There’s no better time than now to make changes. And with The Green Year, any day is a good day to start.
Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)