In it's own way, 'Ready, Set, Green: Eight Weeks to Modern Eco-Living' can become an important book. It is a well written introduction to green living, that covers the basics, answers the most common questions and busts some myths while at it. It also gives very specific action items to tick off over a well structured period of eight weeks.
Written by Graham Hill and Meaghan O'Neill of TreeHugger.com, one of the most popular on-line green Meccas, it gets credibility and potential audience among the site's wired following. Add to that the fact that about a year ago TreeHugger was acquired by Discovery Communications, owners of the Discovery Channel, and here's a chance for bona fide green mass media exposure.
That is why I was surprised to realize that I really need to look relatively hard in order to find mentions of the book on TreeHugger.com (small link in the navigation bar to the book's Amazon page, of all places) or Discovery's Planet Green website (it is featured only at the Discovery shop), and that's only two months since the publication date.
Approaching the book, I was reminded of the introduction to 'The Omnivore's Dilemma'. There, Michael Pollen was illustrating how convoluted our food culture has become, so that the answer to the most trivial of questions, “What should we have for dinner?” becomes a complex endeavor, with the answer changing from fad diet to the other:
Somehow this most elemental of activities—figuring out what
to eat—has come to require a remarkable amount of expert help. How
did we ever get to a point where we need investigative journalists to tell
us where our food comes from and nutritionists to determine the dinner
menu?” (The Omnivore's Dilemma, Page 1)
The current influx of green living how-to books is coming to answer an even more basic question, that of “How should we live?” Hill & O'Neill are not afraid to give an answer and chunk it down to a bite-sized “Eight Week to Modern Eco-Living” program, echoing the famous Eight Weeks to Optimum Health diet by alternative medicine's poster doctor, Andrew Weil.
Marketing and packaging aside, do they deliver? I think they do. Each of the eight weeks in this lifestyle diet is dedicated to another aspect of life, represented in one chapter each:
Week one: How to think like a TreeHugger – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Week Two: Food & Drink
Week Three: Cleaning and Interior Décor
Week Four: Transportation
Week Five: Greening Your Home – Energy Consumption, Water, and Building
Week Six: Clothing and Personal Care
Week Seven: At the Office
Week Eight: R&R (Travel, Sport, Entertainment), Volunteering, and Activism.
Each chapter has the look & feel of a mini school textbook on the topic, only much more enjoyable to read. True to the “more hip than hippy” TreeHugger.com style, the writing is clear, with added tables, lists, illustrations and Q&A expert sections, that are actually on topic help divide the information into digestible bits.
The action items are at the end of each chapter and are divided to two types.
“Save the Planet in Thirty Minutes or Less” action items are what Ed Begley Jr. likes to call 'the low hanging fruits'. These are fairly easy and immediate ways to make a different, like starting to use a reusable coffee cup that week, or switching to at least one Earth-friendly house cleaning product.
The second type of action items are “So you Want to Do More” and are relatively deeper or more difficult commitments. Choosing apparel made of hemp or bamboo doesn't sound so difficult and life-changing, but becoming a Client Project ambassador certainly is.
All in all these actions can add up. Every reader that follows this eight week program, and adopts only the 30 minute fix-its, would be making a significant positive change in their life, and will be doing a thousand times more than most people to help reverse climate change.
But like changing your diet according to a set regime, the outline is useful only as far as there are strong personal motivations and commitments to take the plunge. I believe that these kind of lifestyle eco-diets are going to be successful in making a difference on a large scale only if there is enough support for the individual who pledged to go for it. I am talking about the likes of support groups a-la “weight watchers” and specialized 8-week eco-coaches to those who can afford it. Heck, why not a relaxation tape with subliminal messages reminding you not to leave the travel mug at home while at it? One thing is certain, we need all the help we can get.
Publisher: Villard (a Random House imprint)
Published: May, 2008
GIVEAWAY GIVEAWAY GIVEAWAY
One lucky reader can receive a free copy of the book directly from yours truly. This review copy has been with me the last few weeks in bus stops, the beach and the kitchen table, so expect reasonable wear and tear and an Eco-Libris sticker. Yep, we'll plant a tree to balance out the paper used in making this copy.
How to win? Simply – write a comment below, suggesting ingenious ways of convincing a reluctant domestic partner to join and support you in the eight weeks commitment. Good luck :)
[submissions accepted until Saturday, 12PM PST. The winner will be announced the following day]
Eylon @ Eco-Libris