Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Green Book Reviews - Ready, Set, Green by Graham Hill & Meaghan O'Neill (+ Free Book Giveaway)

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 D├ęcor

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.

Title: Ready, Set, Green: Eight Weeks to Modern Eco-Living

Authors: Graham Hill and Meaghan O'Neill

Publisher: Villard (a Random House imprint)

Published: May, 2008

Pages: 240


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

Plant a Tree for every Book you Read!


Benjamin Jones said...

The best way I've found to get your partner to join in on some of the things you doing is to make it interesting for her. It may seem simple and stupid, but really, I think interest is the main motivation for anyone to do anything, and that there's not really much wrong with that.

Simply guilting her into doing it because you are isn't enough, but telling her way you care (not just why you should care) will let her empathize and make her willing and interested to try it out, in my experience.

Mary512 said...

I've been trying to get my husband to be more green, and its slowly working. I agree with the comment above that says you have to make it interesting for them. If you show how excited you are about saving the earth, they're sure to follow. Great giveaway, thanks!

Craig Baird said...

The best way is probably to show them the results. Start small, like unplugging everything at night, using physics (cold air chimney) to cool the house instead of with an air conditioner, and at the end of the month, show your partner how much they have saved on their bills.

Saving money is the surest way to get anyone to go green.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if this is ingenius, but honestly I've just pointed out what is recyclable to my husband when he tries to throw it away. Slowly he started asking me when he had a doubt and now he does it with no questions asked. Now he's even reminding guests that we recycle so that they don't throw stuff away. I'm proud of him... and the fact that we have to put out our recycle can every week, which is bigger than our garbage can, and our garbage would only be put out once a month tops if it didn't start smelling! jeepcutie82 at msn dot com

Kimberly said...

My husband knows just to go along with everything I ask him to because he knows how concerned I am about the enviroment. I am always e-mailing him articles I find on the 'net and telling him over dinner about the latest eco-news and Earth friendly products. He knows it's important to me so he is more then happy to go along with any suggestions that I make.

Thank you for a nice book giveaway. It sounds like an interesting read.

HunnyV "at" Optonline "dot" net

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review! Glad you're liking the book.

Chris Tackett

Alice H said...

I think the best way is to make it simple and easy - like have a recycling tub clearly labelled right next to the garbage. And to compliment a lot when they do something green. Thanks! afdr3d@umkc.edu

Jane Valentine said...

I think focusing on the travel (week 8) is a great way to do it. Make an agreement that if you try the 8 week challenge, you can plan a great (green) vacation at the end.

Miss Spoken said...

I faced this problem myself -- I was the one that needed to get onboard. I made the switch after my husband provided me with relative information. That peaked my interest and I began looking into how to live more eco-consciously. Now I'm the one leading the charge!
gkstratos@ yahoo.com

anavarre1331 said...

The simplest way that i tuned my husband into the need for green living was to have his children. I just point out the impact every small thing we do has on their future and he's game.

Thanks for the opportunity!

Jenn S. said...

The best way to get my husband on board would be to show him the results and show how it effects him and his family. If it pertains to him, then he is always more interested

Sara G said...

Ummm, threats are good right? Like if you don't help then I don't cook. This book would be great...

windycindy said...

Good Afternoon! For years, I have driven my husband crazy with the large amount of recycling that I do!
Now; he does as much or more than me.
I never asked him to help me and thought I would lead by example. He does huge amounts of cardboard and plastics. Please enter me in your book giveaway drawing. Thanks, Cindi

JenO said...

I think keeping it simple and convieneint is key (like someone else said, the recycle bin right next to the garbage) and also don't try to force it all at once. Start with the simple things like turning off the light and recycling, then move into bigger stuff when they get used to the small changes.

Michelle T said...

I have been trying to get my husband to go green, but he's so stubborn. I think to get him going, I'm just going to have to do it all...at first. Then he'll see how great it is.

angela said...

I'm lucky, my husband will not need any convincing. He is all for sustainability.

Fangirl Jen said...

For me, the best way to inspire my husband is to take him shopping with me and show him the new greener products that are now available. Pointing out the financial benefits of switching to new lightbulbs has also been a good incentive.

chromiumman said...

explain that it's only 8 weeks, you can do eight weeks standing on your head

Anonymous said...

There would have to be something in it for him so I think I'd plan a little getaway to a concert or a weekend getaway because he's been asking for that and we've just been too busy this summer. I'd commit to a date if he'd go along with the program!

Unknown said...

The best way to convince my husband been to make the eight weeks commitment is by promising him delicious dinners. Thanks for this fabulous giveaway!

tattwo said...

The best was is to "show them the money". That would get anyone's attention.

Kari said...

Luckily, we're already a pretty "green" family and my husband included. My kids too, my daughter does a lot of community work involving recycling, cleaning and helping animals. Thank you!!

Ruth said...

Bribery is always useful, as many have suggested. My favorite form of bribery to illicit eco-change has been the phrase "you know, when you make the effort to care about the things I care about, it really turns me on..." I know it seems a little dirty, but really, its true, when my husband makes the effort, I feel respected, valued, cared about, and loved. Who isn't turned on by those things?

jennem said...

Please enter me and thanks! My husband is a professional ecologist, so I was the reluctant one. I was won over by the realization we'd be saving money, and by thinking really hard about the future world we're giving our daughter.

Catherine said...

I always find that making her favorite oatmeal-raisin cookies can get her to do just about anything :)

Katika said...

I am so into going green.

Smooshy said...

I would just have to show my husband that it doesn't take a lot of extra effort.

Tonya said...

The best way to convince my hubby to do anything is to show how much cheaper one way of doing this is over another.

Sandhi said...

I think one or two seeds of plant should be plant in first week.It may be small flower tree,climber even herb vine like mint.
After eight weeks it grows a lot.and the planter find happiness when he or she find that the plant is growing.

however, it will provide oxygen as well as emerge from soil!
So,influence people,neighbors to plant seed.
it's our only way to conserve ecosystem of this planet.

WOLF MOTHER COMMUNE member: said...

educating your partner, without preaching passionately--sometimes this turns people off instead of inspiring them, is the best way of turning your partner onto this 8 week program as well as any other sustainable options you are trying to integrate into your life. and a great way of educating your partner is to find something that will harmonize with what is already attractive or inspirational to them with something similar in what you are trying to achieve.

You really want to make it a positive and lasting step in a foundation you already have to then be able to make a stronger reverbrating impact in both your life and your partners, so you can learn how to connect and inspire others.

for example, if your partner is heavily passionate about a sport, for example surfing, and you are trying to reduce your electricity usage by unplugging things, switching to greener bulbs and appliances, etc. you might want to take them to facilities that are located by a surfing beach (for example San Onofre: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=647
and a facility by it:

OR do a beach cleanup together (perhaps via Surfrider) to show your reason why to switch from disposable grocery bags to reusable/recycled ones: one beach cleanup will immerse these reasons into your life that will resonate for a long time to come, and in unexpected ways.

Kathleen said...

I think the key to convincing a partner of any kind of lifestyle change is to start to undertake it yourself, usually in small, gradual steps, proving as you go along that you're committed to it. Share little things about what you're doing and why you're doing it, little interesting facts you pick up along the way. Maintain a good sense of humor.

I'm already a little bit on the green side. My husband at first made comments that he didn't realize he'd married a druid, and kind of sarcastically asked if just about every bit of garbage he produced could be recycled or composted. I just answered him, left appropriate containers available, and now he uses them as second nature.

Just by being a little more aware of green living, he notices it more and has come to realize that it's a very trendy thing these days. Neither of us have ever really been a 'keeping up with the Joneses' type in terms of material possessions, but I think he really gets a kick out of being the first guy on the block with an electric lawn mower.

Sure, he 'blames' it all on his 'crazy druid wife,' but he really gets a kick out of being ahead of (at least some of) the pack in regards to green living.


I would convince a reluctant partner to go green with me by appealing to his basest instincts.
"Hey, if you follow this eco-friendly program with me for 8 weeks, I'll do a striptease to show how global warming is making the planet too hot to wear clothes. Or, I'll dress up like a woodland creature (just the ears) and show you my gratitude for saving my habitat."
Men are not that complicated.

Anonymous said...

2 words - no sex...

Anonymous said...

Somehow, we will make it a competition; that always brings out the nature to participate.


kananee said...

I think the best way is to educate them, that way if they understand the consequences of their actions or inactions, they will be more likely to participate. It works with the kids!

Anonymous said...

All I have to do is tell my husband it will save money. That's all it takes for him.

masonsgranny59 said...

use fans instead of airconditioning only in rooms u are in and watch the savings on the electric bill:)

Samantha P said...

heather m. said "no sex" well i'll say plenty of sex, hahaha! i'm nice like that :)

Unknown said...

make a bet, then beat him at mario kart! hahaha!

Unknown said...

It may not be ingenious but I found out the best way to get my family involved was to make it a family project. We talked about how important it is for our environment, the cost savings and solicited ideas from each family member. garrettsambo@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Once I find out about a product or service for the house that would make it more green I tell my husband. He is one of those people that does lots of research on the computer about a product. So I would just need to know what items/ideas to mention to him for 8 weeks and he would research it and then decide he thinks it would be a good idea...even though I already knew it was! I think this book would really help with ideas!
hockeygalnc at hotmail dot com

lilyk said...

Show him or her that being green can save money in addition to benefiting the environment.

2349 said...

What I have always tried to do is to remind them that to save now means that their child has a future.

Unknown said...

I use the KISS method and then lead by example. I have trash and recycle containers next to each other so it is convenient to separate the two. Above all share ideas of what you could do to save money by being green - saving money is the surest way to get anyone to go green. Thank you for the opportunity to win!

mrstrooper said...

My husband supports me 100% in all my projects!

Stephen A said...

Deny her sex!

Lisa said...

LOL at the no sex comments!

My husband seems most inspired by seeing what others are doing, especially other men. Like just recently, he ended up taking our stuff to the plastics roundup because I was at the end of pregnancy. He came home saying he was really inspired by seeing all the people out there devoting their whole Saturday to recycling!

Anonymous said...

Would love to win this - thanks!!!
My husband is more of a committed person then I am so I think it would be the other way around - it would be convincing him that I was really commited!!

PS said...

My husband is doing great so far. I like grossing him out about plastic, and he even threw out his Nalgene bottle the other day. But the no sex idea is good too!!