Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monday's green books series (part 1): Sammy & Sue Go Green Too! (and a giveaway)

This week we divide our Monday's green books series into two (and delay them a little bit..), as we bring you reviews of two new great books we partner with. Our first book is dedicated to our motherlove, planet earth - a place for our children to flourish! And the book itself is no less marvelous than its dedication.

Our book for today is:

Sammy and Sue Go Green Too!

The publisher, Beaufort Books, and the author Suzanne Corso, are collaborating with Eco-Libris to encourage the readers of this wonderful book to green up their reading and take a step to support the environment by planting a tree with us for their copy. Thanks to the support of Beaufort Books and Suzanne Corso, readers will be able to do so at a special discount on our website!

: Suzanne Corso

Suzanne is the author of two feature film screenplays, which are based on her novels. Brooklyn Story, a young woman’s coming of age tale and RoughCuts; The Trilogy. A fast-paced, romantic suspense story set against the backdrop of the diamond business. She has also penned other screenplays, such as A Simple Road and Gary Granite. Suzanne has also developed a television show called Empire, based upon Wall Street and has also produced for the New York and London stages the critically acclaimed Roman Nights, about screen legend Anna Magnani and playwright Tennessee Williams.

Along with her other accomplishments Suzanne has produced two documentaries; Indonesia, A Personal Journey and HEAR THEM ROAR, shot entirely at the Endangered Animal Rescue Sanctuary in Citra, Florida. Narrated by Lorraine Bracco. This documentary was the foundation that inspired her children’s series.

: Beaufort Books

Published on: April 22, 2009

Reading ages: 5-9

What it is about
(from the author's website):
The Sammy & Sue Series, based on Sammy and Sue Corso, a mother/daughter team that seeks to educate children about the environment, the planet, nutrition, and to lead to an eco-friendly (”green”) life. The Sammy & Sue
books have one goal in mind; to educate our children, to protect our environment and keep our animals safe.

“Go Green Too!” is the first book in the series and will lead your children on thrilling adventures while teaching them to value the planet and all of its resources. Sammy & Sue are helping to help you spread and start saving the planet. Their mission is to teach their New York City neighbors and American families to conserve energy, drive hybrid cars, and make peace with nature by using eco-friendly products, recycling, and eating organically grown foods. Sammy & Sue set out to visit various eco-friendly companies and organic farms across America.

Why you should get it
1. The joint mother-daughter journey into the green world is a great way to introduce readers, both parents and children, with environmental ideas and concepts. I think that the 'team' idea makes the characters as well as their messages much more easy to identify with.

2. It's a fun story! I think one of the problems of the green movement, especially with kids, is the serious image it has and the notion that going green is a complexed mission. Well, the future of the planet is a serious issue, no doubt about that, but it doesn't mean that you can't engage children into it in a fun and original way that will help them to get connected to green ideas, and that's exactly what this book does.

3. And it's also educational. I liked the fact that by the end of the book kids can find a glossary (or as they call it "Hard words made easy") with simple explanations to big words like atmosphere, pesticides, biodegradable and so on.

4. Beautiful illustrations - they make the story so alive!

What others say about the book:
“These wonderful stories instill a sense of not only understanding but, empowerment ot our childern about the earth and how to take care of it. I look forward to reading them with my daugthers.”
Marcia Cross, Actress "Desperate Housewives" ABC

"A hip testament to being kind to the world around us." Dr. Mehmet Oz, Columbia University, Vice Chairman, Cardiovascular Services, Oprah Show / XM Radio

"To bring about positive environmental change requires an understanding of our impact on the natural world, and a sense of adventure with endless possibility; Sammy & Sue have both" Philip Charles Gamett, President EarthPositive Apparel

You can read more about the book and the series at www.sammyandsue.com


The publisher, Beaufort Books are giving away one copy of the book, and of course a tree will be planted for the copy!

How you can win? please add a comment below with an answer the following question: how do you go green too with your kid? Submissions are accepted until Wednesday, April 8, 12PM EST. The winner will be announced the following day.

If you're looking for other interesting green-themed books, you are invited to check out our
green books page on our website's green resources section.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Plant a tree for every book you read!

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Chicago Bulls are promoting Green Reading and Eco-Libris is taking part in it!

We have great news today: As part of the 'NBA Green Week 2009' the Chicago Bulls are promoting green reading in
one of Chicago's schools and Eco-Libris is part of it!

Yes, President Obama's favorite basketball team will celebrate this Friday (April 3) the grand opening of The Green Reading & Technology Corner at Pope John Paul School in Chicago.

During the opening, Bulls players will participate in a Reading Time-Out where they will read an excerpt of “Planet Earth Gets Well” by Madeline Kaplan, a children’s book that addresses environmental concerns in a child-friendly format. In addition to having a green theme, the author and the Chicago Bulls are collaborating with Eco-Libris to green up the book by planting trees.

The Bulls are donating a total of 100 copies of this book to the school's library, thus planting 100 trees as a result of the project. In addition, every book comes with Eco-Libris sticker made of recycled paper that reads “One tree planted for this book”.

Here are more details on the event:

Date: April 3, 3009 at 3:30pm

Location: Pope John Paul School, 4325 South Richmond Chicago, IL

Event: Grand Opening of the Green Reading & Technology Corner. As part of the Read to Achieve Program, the Bulls added a new component to the Reading & Learning Center where we created an environmentally friendly learning space at a local school.

Following the Opening, Bulls players will participate in a Reading Time-Out where they will read an excerpt of “Planet Earth Gets Well” a children’s book addresses environmental concerns in a child-friendly format. Planet Earth Gets Well's partnership with Eco-Libris, a green business that works to balance out the paper used for books by planting trees, plants one tree for every book purchased.

The Bulls are donating a total of 100 copies of this book to the library, thus planting 100 trees as a result of the project. Eco-Libris includes book sleeve stickers made of recycled paper for every book they balance out that reads “One tree planted for this book”.

Featured Book: Planet Earth Gets Well by Madeline Kaplan, illustrated by Taillefer Long, addresses environmental concerns in a child-friendly format, based on the author’s awareness that future generations must be prepared to preserve their planet and its resources.

When Planet Earth gets the sniffles, Mother Nature challenges each of us to retract our gluttonous ways. She instructs the Planet Earth to take better care of himself which means all humans must make big changes about key issues like global warming, the melting of polar ice caps, deforestation and energy depletion. Once Planet Earth sneezes, Mother Nature listens and helps each and every one of us learn how to be good to our dear, old friend. This educational reader is wholly unique in the ways that matter-think globally, think green, and act accordingly. Reading level: Ages 4-8

More on 'Planet Earth Gets Well':

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Better Paper Project Webinar: What Makes Better Paper Better?

Are you confused by the variety of paper options? well, if you are, this webinar might be just for you.

I learned on the details from Better Paper Project, which is "a collaborative effort of magazine industry stakeholders to increase the use of environmental paper" with a mission "to foster collaboration between paper manufacturers, merchants, investors, businesses, nonprofits and consumers to achieve our vision and encourage the production of socially and environmentally responsible paper – Better Paper."

So here are the details on this webinar from
their website:

Time: April 2, 2009 from 2pm to 3pm

Organized by
: The Better Paper Project + EPN

Information: This month's Better Paper Project Webinar builds on January's event, "Building Blocks for Wise Environmental Publishing", with further discussion of both the problem of deforestation and the environmental paper solutions available to magazine publishers. The Environmental Paper Network (EPN) will be co-hosting this Webinar, explaining what makes better paper better and how to use the EPN’s Paper Steps from the What’s In Your Paper Web site. To register, please visit https://cc.readytalk.com/r/lb5nh8vdnh1u


Raz @Eco-Libris

Saturday, March 28, 2009

An upcoming novel of author Elizabeth Baines is going green with Eco-Libris

We are happy to announce on a collaboration with author Elizabeth Baines to green up her upcoming book "Too Many Magpie" by planting one tree for every copy printed.

The book, due from Salt Modern Fiction in October, is a novel with an environmental theme. It will be the second book published at Salt Publishing that we're working with after "The White Road and Other Stories" by Tania Hershman.

Here's some more d
etails about the upcoming book:

A young mother's faith in science is undermined as the natural world around her becomes ever more uncertain and when she meets a man who seems to offer a different, more magical kind of power... In this haunting, urgent and timely novel Elizabeth Baines explores the problem of sorting our rational from our irrational fears, the implications of bringing children into a newly precarious world, and the scientific and magical modes of thinking which have got us to where we are now.

About the author:
Elizabeth Baines was born in South Wales and lives in Manchester. She has bee
n a teacher and is an occasional actor as well as the prize-winning author of plays for radio and stage, and of two novels, The Birth Machine and Body Cuts. Her award-winning short stories have been published widely in magazines and anthologies.

Other books of Elizabeth Baines:
Balancing on the Edge of the World (Salt Publishing, 1997) - a collection of short stories about power and powerlessness, and those moments when the balance of power - between a violent father and his daughter, between a doctor and his smug patient, between an unsuspecting teenager and the dangerous world around him - can subtly or dramatically change for ever...

What other people have said about the book:
'Quite swept me off my feet... ' - Dovegreyreader
'A stunning debut collection' - Melissa Lee-Houghton, The Short Review

The Birth Machine (Women's Press 1983; Revised edition, 'The Author's Cut', Starling 1996) - White rats in the lab, a murder deep in the past, Zelda strapped to a bed in a high-tech maternity ward and some mysteries about to unravel. Adapted by Elizabeth Baines and broadcast as a play for Radio 4

What other people have said about the book:
'The birth myth of our age' - IN DUBLIN
'A gripping, pithy book' - Katy Campbell
'An increasingly powerful narrative... Sharp satire - TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

Body Cuts (Pandora, 1988) -Is Bron being followed? Is her ex-lover a threat? The frightening power of fantasy turned reality

What other people have said about it:
'Strikingly told' - SUNDAY TIMES
'Thought-provoking' - MORE!
Click to read a review by Bob Corbett, Webster University.

You can read more about the author on these links:

We will keep you posted as soon as Too Many Magpies will be released.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

* Enclosed photo of author Elizabeth Baines is by Tom Wright

Friday, March 27, 2009

When economic constraints meet Planet Earth: HarperCollins' catalogs are going digital

One more time savings are meeting the environment: The HarperCollins Fall catalog is going paperless or in other words: no more printing and mailing physical catalogs. From now on, it's all digital.

And it actually has many advantages as Publishers Weekly reports (thanks to GalleyCat for the link!): "HC's digital catalogues, housed at www.harpercollinscatalogs.com, will, in addition to featuring the standard information in print catalogues, include reviews, interviews and promotional videos. The publisher is also promising that the online catalogues will be updated frequently, reflecting any evolving changes with the publication details or marketing efforts surrounding titles."

Again it's another win-win solution: interested parties get better and improved information, hence making the catalogs more effective, money is saved as there's no printing and mailing and of course the environment is benefiting from it. It's maybe even win-win-win :-)

Wonders how a digital catalog looks? check out www.harpercollinscatalogs.com (where you can also find the book, which you see it's cover above - The Road to Woodstock by Michael Lang)

And what about the rest of the publishers? Josh Marwell, president of sales at HC, is quoted on PW saying the new online catalogues mark the "next step in the evolution of how we bring our books to market." I believe he's right and it also applies to other publishers. Hence, my guestimation is that HarperCollins won't be alone for too long - such a move makes too much sense especially in these times. We'll follow it up and let you know if we were right or wrong here.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A new children's book "Where the Buttercups Grow" is going green with Eco-Libris

Our partner Aaspirations Publishing has a great new children book coming - "Where the Buttercups Grow". This wonderful title, which is the work of a mother-daughter team, is doubly special because a tree is being planted with Eco-Libris for every book!

Here is some more information about the book:

Title: Where the Buttercups Grow

Author: Shelley Meyer

Shelley Meyer is a wife and mother of two children. She graduated with a Bachelor of Education Degree from UBC and an Early Childhood Education Certificate. She enjoyed teaching for 5 years and is now the owner and operator of Li’l Munchkin Preschool. Her preschool program encourages care and respect for each other and for the environment. Shelley's mother works with her, and together they hope to teach young children values they can live up to all their lives.

Illustrator: Tessa Meyer

Tessa Meyer, the book’s illustrator is the author’s 17 year old daughter. She graduated from high school in 2008 and has an undying passion for soccer. She is currently on the Whitecaps Reserve roster and is playing for Trinity Western University where she is currently studying. Illustrating has been her long-time hobby and she has truly enjoyed using her creativity to illustrate this book.

What's the book about: What happens when a mother-daughter team combine the beauty of buttercups, the power of storytelling and a great respect of nature to create a wonderful book with amazing art?

In a beautiful field, the buttercups grow, but when two children have no respect for nature garbage begins to pile up high. Are the days of the buttercups over, or will help come to rescue the buttercups from a fate more deadly than illness? See the difference that children can make when they set their mind to it and decide to take care of Mother Earth. Beautifully written by Shelley Meyer and vividly illustrated by her daughter Tessa Meyer, this inspiring and powerful story will find a spot on every child's list of favourites, especially when they can carry the story forward in their own lives and plant their very own buttercups.

Pre-orders are open at www.aaspirationspublishing.com or click on http://www.aaspirationspublishing.com/where-the-buttercups-grow.html to read more and to buy.

We will soon review the book and give away one copy so stay tuned!

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Green Options - Turn Envelopes Into Gift Bags

As part of Eco-Libris' ongoing content partnership with Green Options Media, we feature a post that was originally published by Jackie Hernandez on March 24 on Crafting a Green World. Today's post gives some great ideas for a creative ideas what to do with the extra envelopes we have at home.

Whenever you buy a greeting card it comes with an envelope, whether you intend to mail the card or not. If you are not mailing the card, then the envelope is really just a waste of paper. Instead of needlessly stuffing the card into an envelope just give the recipient the card and use the envelope to make a “baglet” for a lovely gift. Rather than buying a new card at all, consider a makeover for a plain notecard and a used or found envelope to make a gift bag.

Envelope Gift BagsJessica Jones, from How About Orange, shares this wonderful tutorial for turning envelopes into gift bags, which she cutely nicknames “baglets”. The tutorial includes a printable template for a To/From label and tips for decorative touches like a scalloped edge or adding a ribbon handle.

For other great eco-gift wrapping ideas try using comic strips or these tips from Danny Seo.

[Images by Jessica Jones for How About Orange]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Help SHI win important funding!

We just received an important message from our planting partner Sustainable Harvest International (SHI). The message is from Florence Reed, founder and President of SHI. As you can see, it asks for help with a contest that can generate SHI important funding.

So here is the message:

Last week, Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) announced the exciting opportunity to turn your $10 donation into $10,000. More than 125 generous supporters responded to the challenge and put SHI in second place on Razoo.com's March Goodness Contest! If you are one of those 125 people who have gotten us this far, I am very grateful to you. Now as the end of the contest draws near and SHI has fallen into third place, I am once again asking for your help!
Razoo - Turn $10 into $10,000!Thanks to an anonymous donor, any gifts received on Razoo.com, beginning today through March 31st, will be matched dollar for dollar up to $1,000! SHI currently has 125 donations, and we need the help of you and your friends to pull ahead of the first place organization that currently has 170 donations!
The organization with the most donor supporters this March will win grants of $500, $1,500, $3,000, and $10,000! A gift of $10,000 would be enough for SHI to fund any of the following projects:

• Support SHI’s work with more than two communities for an entire year!
• Support SHI’s work with over 22 families for an entire year!
• Sustain 100 school village programs for an entire year!
• Plant more than 28,750 trees!

SHI is currently in a tight 3rd place! If you have not yet donated to SHI through Razoo this month, please help SHI win $10,000 by simply logging onto Razoo.com and making a donation. Most important to our success will be for all of you who have already donated or are about to donate or can’t donate now to tell your family, friends and co-workers to make their donation to SHI today. Follow this link to SHI’s profile on Razoo.com and please contribute by March 31st! Please forward this email far and wide with a personal note from you. You can also share information about this effort from SHI’s FaceBook page.

Remember, we can only fund one of the above projects with your dedication and support!

In hope,

Florence Reed
Founder and President

P.S. We would like to once again thank those of you who have already donated through Razoo.com. Due to the currently troubled economy, your continued support is urgently needed. Together we are planting hope, restoring forests, and nourishing communities!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Everything you always wanted to know about green homes: An interview with Avrim Topel

Green buildings have never been so popular, at least when it comes to public policy. Looking at the stimulus plan you see how a concept that until lately was relatively marginal suddenly becomes a significant policy tool, which is expected to stimulate the economy, lower energy consumption, create jobs and support the environment, all the same time.

But what doe
s a green building or a green home actually means? well, for most of us it would be difficult to get into specifics as so few had the chance to experience it personally, but for Avrim and Vicki Topel know the answers.

They have built a green home (LEED Silver Certified) at Kennett Square, PA and they're sharing their story in a new book entitled "Green Beginnings: The Story of How We Built Our Green & Sustainable Home".
This book is a valuable book for anyone interested in going green or building a green home. It is also part of a greater effort of the Topel's experience to share their experience with others, which includes tours in the house and a documentary video. And last but not least, as we reported earlier, we're collaborating with the authors to plant trees for the copies sold of the book.

As we wanted to learn more about the authors' experience and their book, we asked Avrim Topel to join us for an interview.

Hello Avrim. Can you tell us why did you decide to build a green house?
That's an interesting question, as we didn't set out to build green; in fact, we didn't know what a green house even was. I had recently retired due to illness, and we needed to downsize into something with one floor living, little maintenance and upkeep, a healthy indoor environment, and lower utility bills. Our builder Amy Cornelius of Hugh Lofting Timber Frames was keenly perceptive and immediately identified our needs with green homes. Upon explaining green homes to us, the decision was a no-brainer thereafter.

What's the most important part in the process - the design? the professional team you work with? choosing the right materials?
That's an interesting question. Green homes begin with good, smart, sustainable design, no question about that. But building a green home is a process all unto itself and very different from traditional homebuilding. We followed the protocol suggested by the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED for Homes (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System that calls for an integrative (team) approach to green design and construction.

Our builder assembled an incredibly gifted team of professionals: an eco-architect, sustainable engineer, landscape architect and of course our green builder, were the primary force behind the project. The team approach is necessary for several reasons - green homes offer homeowners many choices, and it is critical that the various components, systems and materials one chooses come together and are compatible with each other. The process is new and quite dynamic, and no single entity has all of the answers yet. Therefore, the old saying "two heads are better than one" never rang so true.

What makes your house a green house?
Starting from the ground up, site stewardship is key. The site was developed with a plan that prioritized minimal disturbance to the site, and to protect and conserve its' natural attributes. The home was situated to take advantage of its natural attributes as well. The orientation to the sun, prevailing winds, and tall stands of trees now provide us with passive solar heat, good cooling ventilation and summertime shade to assist cooling, and a wind block against the cold winter winds.

Physically, I'm going to use some technical terms to answer this question that we don't use in our book strictly for brevity's sake. All materials were intentionally selected to be natural, consist of reclaimed or recycled content (or parts thereof), certified green, and of local origin. Our home was prefabricated which rates as high as it gets for minimally impacting the site. The prefab Superior Wall foundation consists of a high percentage of flyash and industrial waste material in the concrete. Our structural wood was engineered beams made from wood scraps bonded with lo V.O.C. glues. The timber frame and most other new wood is all FSC certified , coming from managed forests that plant a tree for every one they cut down, and the galvanized aluminum roof has 30% recycled content.

The interior of the home included reclaimed barn wood from local barns for flooring, interior window and door casing and trim from trees we felled on the property, and the stone fireplace and exterior perimeter walls are made of stone from the Avondale Quarry just a few miles from here.

All paints and coatings are low or no V.O.C. rated, eliminating off-gases, and all insulation is certified as healthy. The radiant heat system is run with a Munchkin Vision II boiler, the most efficient rated system (96%) on the planet, and a variable speed central air-conditioning system rated at 16 SEER combined with two ERV (energy recovery ventilators - heat exchangers) minimize the heat and air conditioning systems use. Electric-wise, the home uses almost all Energy Star appliances, and most lighting is either by CFL's (with ballasts), Halogen, or LED light units. Low flow plumbing fixtures and faucets conserve water use.

And because it is a LEED For Homes Silver dwelling, every product and system has been thoroughly inspected , tested, and verified by a third party, independent engineering company.

Does it cost more to build a green house? What benefits do you get out of it?

It really doesn't have to anymore. A few years back, green building products were few and far between, difficult to find, and demanded a premium. Today, new products are hitting the market on a daily basis and priced competitively. While certain products like ballast lighting units do cost more up front, they are negligible in the big picture. When green building using the team approach, and with a certified program such as LEED, you will incur additional professional fee costs, but all things considered you can keep things within a 2 to 3% premium over traditional home.

The benefits include eliminating upkeep and maintenance activities and costs, health benefits from a clean, controlled indoor environment, economic benefits such as lower fuel, water, and electric costs that help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Building green supports the local economy by favoring local products (businesses) and labor as well.

What was the first main difference from your old house you noticed in after moving in?
We immediately noticed the home's ability to retain the air conditioning. Being a panel house where the walls and ceiling insulation package was specified by the sustainable engineer, we knew the home was supposed to be well-insulated. However, we had no idea just how efficient it would really be.

One Friday we left for the beach at lunchtime and did an experiment. It was a hot, humid weekend, and the house was a cool, comfortable 70 degrees inside. We turned off the central air units, closed all windows, and turned down the ERV unit when we let, curious as to what the temperature would be when we would return Monday afternoon. Upon our return, we were amazed that the house was 71 degrees; it had only gone up one degree in temperature in three days. We couldn't believe it. It's now become a regular ritual, summer and winter, for us to put the house to the "temperature challenge" whenever we leave, and it's a joy each and every time.

In what ways this homebuilding experience changed you?
The change we have experienced learning about, planning, and building a green home is most profound, a change we never could have predicted. As we became aware of the concepts behind the terms green and sustainable, and as we learned more about the products and systems and ways we were doing things pertaining to the project, we became more in tune with the importance and significance of this alternative way of building and living.

And as we began to understand and realize the benefits green homes avail their occupants, the communities in which they are built, and how they conserve and protect our natural resources and actually right so many wrongs man has inadvertently done to the planet, we came to the realization that this was too important not to share with as many people as we could.

I can't recall any other cause in our lives as having such an absolute effect on both of us as this did. Frustrated by not being able to find books that explained green homes completely and in non-technical, simple English, we were inspired to write our story to help people understand green homes and bolster awareness of these amazing dwellings.

How important was it for you to receive the LEED certification? is it a must or you can manage without it?
Good question. Having been a real estate developer and licensed Realtor for 35 years before building green, the decision to get LEED certified came quickly. LEED sets the standards that all other green home certification and designation programs are based upon, as it is the nation's benchmark for green construction.

And it is the ONLY green home program that uses independent third party verification and testing assuring homeowners that what they ordered is what they get and most importantly that it all works as intended. So, from a quality control stand point LEED made total sense. But equally important, the LEED designation is something I personally consider to give the home tremendous credibility and value when it comes to resale value.

In my opinion, the LEED Silver rating gives a home a 15% or better value premium. In our case, the energy savings in dollars and sense justify this increase in realized value alone.

What drove you to write the book? Why it is important for you to share your story with other people?
I think that in our case having to confront serious illness and disability that one tends to count his blessings and reassess what's really important and what's just not. We want to do the right thing and leave the world a better place for our children, and we were so moved by becoming aware of the benefits everyone realizes by changing the way we live in our homes that we felt it an obligation to share this information with others. The truth is, with all of the hype in the media about green, most people still haven't the foggiest idea what a green home is.

Most people struggle to pay their utility bills, and this effects the quality of life for millions and millions of people all over the world. Homes are among the leading contributors of our environmental crises including global warming, smog, and our dependence on foreign oil. We've reduced our fuel consumption by 70% compared to our previous home. That equates dollar-wise to a kid being able to afford to go to college, or a parent not having to work a second job to make ends meet.

What do you hope readers will learn from the book? What’s the most important lesson in it?
The message is clear. Green homes are a sum of their parts; the approach to healthy, energy efficient living can no longer be viewed as purchasing the right furnace or insulating the attic as single solutions. Green homes are about the relationships the various parts, products and systems have with each other, and understanding this concept will empower people to make intelligent, informed decisions that will give them the best results and benefits in the homes they live.

Can you tell us more about the tours in the house?
Our 90 Minute Educational Tours start by explaining what green and sustainable mean when we use these terms as they pertain to our homes. We explain green homes from a historic perspective; where did the notion of green homes come from, and explain the USGBC LEED criteria as a reference point and national standard for green.

We tour the home and property so people can see and experience the various products and systems and get a real feel for a green home. The truth is, most green elements are invisible. Finally, the tours give attendees the opportunity to ask questions, and if we don't have the answers, we will find the resources that do.

What is your hope for the future? Do you think there's a good chance we'll see a significant increase in the number of green homes any time soon?
The future is now. Green homes are replacing new traditional construction at a rapid pace already. As of July, 2008, 16 cities mandated all new construction of government owned buildings to be LEED certified, and it's just a matter of time, perhaps a few more years, until our building standards in America will all be green. We're presently in what I'd describe as the wild, wild west era of green building with over 200 green home certification organizations fighting for national dominance.

In our opinion, most will consolidate or fall by the wayside and we'll have a half-dozen recognizable green designation programs that clearly identify the green aspects of all buildings built into the future. And from where we see things, it's all good.

Thanks Avrim!

You can read more about the book at www.greenbeginningsconsulting.com

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Monday, March 23, 2009

And we have a winner on Freezing Point's giveaway

Thanks to all the participants in the giveaway of 'Freezing Point' by Karen Dionne, following the review of the book last Monday.

Since this is an eco-thriller, we asked you to share with us the best thriller you have read.We got some great replies and we have a winner!

The winner is Renee, who recommended the following:

"I would have to say that the Cabinet of Curiosities by Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston is my favorite."

Congrats to Renee, who won a copy of 'Freezing Point'! We will also plant one tree for this book and add our sticker saying "One tree planted for this book".

Thanks also to all the other participants and we welcome you all to keep following our Monday's green books series as we have reviews of great green-themed books coming with giveaways. So stay tuned.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Sunday, March 22, 2009

On the love of independent bookstores - an interview with Kim Allen-Niesen of 'Bookstore People'

We love independent bookstores. We have about 25 of them in our bookstores program, which means customers at these stores have the opportunity to pay to plant a tree to balance each book they purchase in the store and receive our sticker at the counter. And we're not alone.

Bookstore People is a blog that is full with love and appreciation to independent bookstores. It's mission is to "highlight independent bookstore
s wherever we find them to encourage people to visit them and buy their books from them." This great blog is run by Claire LaZebnik and Kim Allen-Niesen, who share the love both to books and to bookstores.

I was very excited to learn about this blog and I asked one of its co-founders, Kim Allen-Niesen, to help us get to know Bookstore People and to learn more about the state of independent bookstores in these difficult times.

Hello, Kim. Can you tell us about your blog - how did you start it and why you chose to focus on independent bookstores?

Claire and I have known each other for years and whenever we see a new blog by women we always say, "we could have done that!" Last summer, we decided to go for it. We didn't have a topic, there was lots of discussion about motherhood and wine, but Claire is a writer and I'm a reader dipping my toe into writing so pretty quick we decided it would be a literary blog. I wrote an essay that I was sending out for rejection about how I always visit independent bookstores when I travel, Claire knew about the essay and suggested we build our blog around independent bookstores.

So how independent bookstores are doing these days? are they relatively more exposed to financial distress because of the downturn?

Times are hard for independent bookstores, they were hit by the big box stores, then the Internet and now the recession. They are closing across the country every week. However, it isn't a hopeless picture. Bookstores are also opening and expanding across the country. I see examples of stores broadening their activites to appeal to new customers. For example, Changing Hands in Tuscon organizes a hiking series which by their clientele attracts readers who tend to discuss books on the trail.

There is a growing movement started by the American Booksellers Association called Indiebound that equips and encourages bookstores to link with other independent businesses in their area and educate the public on the need for local, community based businesses. That movement is gaining ground. I've heard from more than one person that writing a blog about bookstores is beating a dead horse, but I'm seeing a vibrancy that is encouraging.

Kindle 2 was just launched two weeks ago - how do you see the influence of electronic content on independent bookstores? do you read ebooks at all?

My husband gave me the original Kindle for Christmas in 2007, I'm not a huge fan. I keep thinking I should try again, especially when I travel. I can't tell you how many times I've had to ask someone to help me put my carry-on in the overhead bin because it's so heavy with books. In my opinion, for independent bookstores to thrive they need to figure out how to participate in the e-book market.

Some publishers are doing that right now, HarperStudio will be offering e-book and audio book versions for $2 each if the customer buys the paper book. NelsonFree will give away the audio and e-book versions with the paper book. It is my understanding that the customer will buy the book in the bookstore and then buy or receive a code to get the other versions. I don't think the e-book will replace the paper book, but I do think it is here to stay.

All in all, how do you see the future of the book market? is it optimistic or gloomy?

It's in transition, there are certainly those who sing a funeral dirge for the publishing industry but again, I don't think so. Experts with far more knowledge than me think the publishing industry needs to cut out the fat, change some of their policies (eliminate returns, publish less frequently in hardbacks) and use digital technology to its fullest benefit.

I've seen several suggestions that the expectation of the level of profit in the industry needs a reality check. Ultimately, people aren't going to stop wanting stories and reading, but how that is done with the intertwining of new and old formats is far from decided, but the industry must learn to re-vamp to meet new challenges and demands.

What is your favorite independent bookstore?

The Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, CA, it is where I dream of living and working when life is too crazy. It is one of the first bookstores I wrote on the blog, http://www.bookstorepeople.com/?s=mendocino, and it is the bookstore I write most frequently about in other forums.

What's the best thing that ever happened to you in a bookstore?

Actually, it happens over and over again, the thrill of wandering through marvelous books and finding a terrific one that I've never heard of before. Those actually are my favorite bookstore experiences, when I talk to someone at the store and they recommend to me a book the store is handselling. It occurred most recently at Laguna Beach Books, the owner recommended Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda, a book that was new to me and that the store had hand sold 550 copies last year. I left completely thrilled.

Will you ever be caught at Barnes & Noble?

In a pinch, I was in one last night actually. It was 9PM and we needed to pick up the next Rabbit book by Updike so there was only one option, B & N. However, whenever the cashier asks if I am a member of their "club," I answer no and then tell them how I feel about businesses requiring their customers to pay to be in a club to receive a discount.

You're an avid reader, but also a fan of bookstores, so I can't avoid this question - what you like more, books or bookstores?

Whenever I'm in a bookstore I usually tell myself that I should be spending the time reading not shopping, but I can't stop myself. Thank goodness it's books I like shopping for rather than shoes or jewelry, or we'd be in the poor house. There is a similarity between the rush of browsing in a good bookstore and reading a great book, although for me reading is far more solitary an activity because I'm talking to people in the bookstore (I talk to customers about the books they are picking and the staff about their business wherever I am, I've even stopped by tables in restaurants to ask people what they're reading and what they think of the book). So, I'm stalling because my head says I like books more and my heart says no, it's the bookstores.

You're also a writer - what are you working on now?

Claire is the true writer, her novel The Smart One and the Pretty One came out last September and was just sent out for another printing, it's selling very well. Yesterday, Growing Up on the Spectrum: A Guide to Life, Love, and Learning for Teens and Young Adults with Autism and Asperger’s that Claire co-wrote was officially published. She has one novel that she has been working furiously on and she recently sent it to her agent to begin the outside editing process. She is very excited about writing her first book in a new genre, young adult.

Thank you, Kim!

You're welcome to read Bookstore People at www.bookstorepeople.com


Raz @ Eco-Libris

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Reminder: tell us what's your favorite thriller and you can win a copy of the eco-thriller 'Freezing Point'

If you're a fan of thrillers and cares about the environment, here's an offer you can't refuse: tell us what's you're favorite thriller and you can win a copy of a great eco-thriller: 'Freezing Point' by Karen Dionne, who was praised as called "the new Michael Crichton".

One more day is left to this giveaway, so check out our review of the book from last Monday and add a comment with your favorite thriller right here or on the original post.
Submissions are accepted until Sunday, March 22, 12PM EST. The winner will be announced the following day.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

We have winners on our newsletter's special giveaways!

The March issue of our newsletter was released on Thursday with a special offer that included 3 great prizes: Into the Great Outdoors DVD/Book/CD Set, a copy of "Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa" by Jeanette Winter and a set of Every Man Jack's Body Bars.

The prizes were awarded to the first three subscribers that balanced out books on our website following the release of the newspaper. Congratulations to the winners!

We invite you all to subscribe to our monthly newsletter. We will continue to have special offers to our subscribers and it's very simple - all you have to do is just to sign up, using the box on the right side of the page saying
'Join Our Email List' and that's it.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Friday, March 20, 2009

Green Options - Book Review: True Green Home by Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin

As part of Eco-Libris' ongoing content partnership with Green Options Media, we feature a post that was originally published by Justin Van Kleeck on March 9 on Sustainablog. Today's post is a review of a new green book that will help making your home a green home.

Living a low-impact, eco-friendly life often boils down to simplicity and sheer common sense. Just follow the old proverb “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” and you will be a long way towards minimizing your impact on the environment.

But sometimes consuming less and acting with a green heart still leaves much in the “gray area” of wastefulness and pollution. To help make your life at home as green as can be, Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin compile 100 great eco-tips in True Green Home. Part of the National Geographic True Green series, True Green Home serves as an accessible introduction to the countless areas of your home that can be either eco-friends or eco-foes.

It is also a great “cheat sheet,” as the authors call it, by combining comprehensiveness with brevity and generality.1 That is, you get a lot of quick glimpses into where your home (or apartment) might be wasting resources and some basic steps you can take to reduce your environmental footprint. (Nearly every page has more space devoted to a photo than words.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Launch party of "Earth in the Hot Seat" at Hooray for Books!

What are you doing on March 29? If you're anywhere near Old Alexandria, VA (just 20 minutes by the metro from Washington DC), you are welcome to visit a great signing event at Hooray for Books!

Hooray for Books! is a very special children's bookstore in Old Alexandria, VA. They're also taking part in our bookstores program and offer their customers to plant trees with us for the books they purchase at the store. And on March 29 they will host a
launch party from 3-5 p.m. for award-winning author Marfé Ferguson Delano's new book, Earth In The Hot Seat: Bulletins from a Warming World.

Here are the details:

Earth in the Hot Seat: Bulletins from a Warming World
National Geographic Children's Books, March 2009

The Earth is getting warmer, and while the planet will survive this, many of its inhabitants may not, not if we can't slow the tons of carbon pouring into our atmosphere.
Earth in the Hot Seat clearly explains the phenomenon of and the science behind global warming. It uses real people and real-life examples to report from the front lines of the fight to protect our warming planet. It explores the challenges—and the opportunities—presented by climate change…. Most important, it inspires us to care about the planet. It's the only one we've got.

Marfe Ferguson Delano, an author living in Alexandria, VA, has written numerous award-winning National Geographic books. Hooray For Books! at 1555 King St in Alexandria, VA, is pleased to host a book-signing party for her newest book, Earth in the Hot Seat, on Sunday, March 29, 2009, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The event is free and includes light refreshments. Anyone who would like an autographed book but is unable to attend the book-launch party should call Hooray For Books! at 703-548-4092 to order her book for autographing and mailing (or later pickup at the store.)

You're all invited!

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The state of green printing: An interview with Deb Bruner of Pinnacle Press

We're constantly talking about the need of the book industry to increase its efforts to lower its environmental impacts and adopt greener practices. At the same time, we try to do a reality check every couple of months and learn from those who actually print the books how things are doing.

Last January we had an interview with Greg Barber of Greg Barber Company, who shared with us insights on what it means to be a green printer. Today we have the pleasure to host another experienced green printer, Deb Bruner of Pinnacle Press.

Deb Bruner serves in Pinnacle Press as director of book publishing and eco-friendly initiatives. She has more than 25 years experience in the publishing, paper and printing industries. Prior to Pinnacle, Bruner worked as the director of book publishing papers for New Leaf Paper, the environmentally friendly paper merchant, where she managed mill relationships and developed sales opportunities.

As you can see, Bruner has a vast experience with a specific focus on green printing, so we decided there's no better person to get our current update from. We also wanted to learn more about Pinnacle Press of St. Louis, MO, which is well-known for its quality services and commitment to the environment.

We hope you will enjoy this opportunity to learn what's going on in one of the major fronts of the book industry - the printing machines.

Hello, Deb. Could you describe please Pinnacle’s efforts to go green?

Pinnacle Press was the first book component printer to start stocking a recycled sheet for book jackets at price parity with virgin stock. We started doing this back around 2002 or 2003 due to customer demand from the university press community; presses like Cornell University Press wanted a recycled coated sheet for book jackets to help them meet their recycled paper commitments to Green Press Initiative.

It’s worth noting that the stock we continue to offer at price parity is New Leaf Paper’s Primavera Gloss, which is 80% recycled/60% pcw/FSC-certified/PCF and manufactured with Green-e Certified energy. It is also one of the very few sheets on the market to carry the Ancient Forest Friendly logo, which is awarded by Markets Initiative in Canada.

Two years ago we started stocking Kallima C2S, a board stock for covers, at price parity with virgin paper. This stock contains 10% pcw and is FSC-certified.

Whether or not our customers ask for recycled paper, we use these papers on all our jackets and covers since there is no premium to consider.

In addition to our recycled paper stocking program, we are an FSC-certified plant. We are also an AmerenUE Pure Power Business Leader and an EPA Green Power Partner.

Within our plant and offices, we have comprehensive recycling programs in place and continue to look for ways to incorporate more earth-friendly practices, including the elimination of Styrofoam coffee cups and using ceramic coffee mugs instead.

What is the biggest value Pinnacle gains from its eco-friendly practices?

Incorporating eco-friendly practices and offering eco-friendly products serves our business and customers well. Regardless of whether customers ask us for recycled paper on their projects, we take pride in our efforts to be environmentally responsible at the corporate level. Through breakfast “green sessions” at our plant, through our active participation at publisher meetings, and through our involvement with organizations such as the Book Industry Environmental Council, we strive to educate publishers and other customers on green products and practices so they can become more knowledgeable. The “green marketplace” is constantly evolving and we must stay up with it.

What responses does Pinnacle receive from customers when we tell them about our green practices? Does it make a difference for them?

Some customers come to us because of our green practices and paper offerings. Others are happy to learn about our practices and paper offerings and will try and use recycled and/or FSC-certified papers if they’re able, even if there is a premium involved (e.g. on special orders). Of course, there are customers who come to us strictly for pricing or other reasons and are not interested in green options. That is ok. We let our customers know that we are a resource for them regardless of their particular needs or interests.

You hear a lot these days that the price of recycled paper is decreasing; is there still a premium you need to pay for printing on recycled paper?

From my experience, which includes over 20 years in publishing as well as approximately 5 years in the paper industry and printing, paper prices are all over the map when it comes to recycled or FSC-certified papers. Whether coated or uncoated, some high pcw sheets are less expensive than lower pcw sheets.

For the most part, there does seem to be a bit of a premium on many eco-friendly papers, but because the availability of such papers has been increasing for several years, the competition has made pricing more competitive. Virgin paper, because it’s made on larger machines and on a larger scale, still remains the less expensive option for the most part.

As has been said many times, greater demand (for eco-friendly stocks) will increase availability and as such drive down prices. Since much of our domestically collected wastepaper fiber is shipped overseas to China and elsewhere, I remain curious as to how that will affect pricing over the long term. When we quote a job, we look at various papers and present our customers with a few options. Sometimes a sheet with 10% pcw will cost more than a sheet with 50% pcw. It’s never clear cut so we have to do our homework in looking for the best priced option.

What are the main issues that prevent more publishers and others who print with Pinnacle to use recycled paper?

Since we offer our cover and jacket stock at price parity with virgin, there is no price issue for publishers, but when we have to special order a paper (for a catalog, for example), some publishers just won’t pay more for a green sheet no matter how small the premium. In today’s economy every penny counts more than ever.

Back in the 1990s (and even earlier) the quality of recycled papers (particularly the brightness levels in coated) would often be an obstacle to using recycled (at least for a majority of designers) but now there are very bright recycled papers on the market and I don’t encounter any quality concerns at all.

I do find that sometimes customers need to be reminded that recycled or FSC papers can be an option for them; some still are on “auto pilot” when it comes to sticking with virgin. They have a “workhorse” sheet and just don’t think outside the box.

Does Pinnacle print on demand? If so, do we see a growing demand for POD in comparison with the “regular” printing model?

Yes, we do 4/c POD and short-run work on our Indigo Presses. We do see an increase in using this technology, and part of that comes from our efforts to inform our customers as to how this technology can best serve them. I will frequently show our customers the quality of our Indigo work and end up brainstorming with them about projects – it can be a lot of fun.

Pricing and quality are first and foremost our customers’ concerns when it comes to this technology. We have found that more and more eco-friendly papers are available to run on the Indigos and customers have been appreciative of that.

What are the current trends we see in the market with respect to green printing?

When I was working for New Leaf Paper prior to joining Pinnacle, I saw a demand for more and more FSC-certified papers; in fact, the demand for FSC-certified stock seemed to be bigger than for recycled. More and more printers are getting FSC-certified, and they are also carrying other certifications as well, such as from SFI or PEFC.

I have heard that some printers are not renewing their FSC certification due to economic reasons given the current state of our economy, but I don’t yet know how widespread that is. Again, printers follow demand, so where customers are asking for green papers, printers will offer them. When customers express an interest in a printer’s operations in regards to how green it is, printers take notice.

What is the influence of the economic downturn on green printing?

For anyone not fully invested (for philosophical or other reasons) in being green, belt-tightening will rule the day and some green options or processes may disappear if money can be saved by using alternatives. At the same time, I think most people are aware that being good environmental stewards is more important than ever and we have to consider our global footprint.

My feeling is that so many of us in the publishing and book printing industry are now so invested with such organizations as Green Press Initiative and the Book Industry Environmental Council that we will continue to “green up” and not let eco-friendly policies and practices fall by the wayside. . . .

Do you see the electronic book as a threat to our business?

I do not.

Thank you Deb! You can learn more about Pinnacle Press at their website - www.pinnaclepress.com

Raz @ Eco-Libris
www.ecolibris. net