Thursday, August 27, 2009

Green Book of the week: Sleeping Naked Is Green by Vanessa Farquharson

Today we have a great book to share with you with a story of a challenge that I believe is shared by a growing number of people who want to green up their lifestyle significantly, but not to radically change who they are. Can it be done? one journalist from Toronto shows the answer is YES.

Our book today is:

Sleeping Naked Is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days

Author: Vanessa Farquharson

Vanessa Farquharson is an arts reporter and film critic at the National Post, based in Toronto, where she also writes a weekly column on the environment.

Visit her website: (Photo Credit: © Catherine Farquharson)

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Published on:
June 2009

What this book is about? (from the publisher's website)
No one likes listening to smug hippies bragging about how they don't use toilet paper, or worse yet, lecturing about the evils of plastic bags and SUVs. But most of us do want to lessen our ecological footprint. With this in mind, Farquharson takes on the intense personal challenge of making one green change to her lifestyle every single day for a year to ultimately figure out what's doable and what's too hardcore.

Vanessa goes to the extremes of selling her car, unplugging the fridge, and washing her hair with vinegar, but she also does easy things like switching to an all-natural lip balm. All the while, she is forced to reflect on what it truly means to be green.

Whether confronting her environmental hypocrisy or figuring out the best place in her living room for a compost bin full of worms and rotting cabbage, Vanessa writes about her foray into the green world with self-deprecating, humorous, and accessible insight. This isn't a how-to book of tips, it's not about being eco-chic; it's an honest look at what happens when an average girl throws herself into the murkiest depths of the green movement.

What we think about it?

Firstly I'm proud to say that we spotted Vanessa's blog - green as a thistle - almost two years ago and warmly recommended it back then when she was still in the middle of her challenge.

And what a challenge it was! It's actually interesting to review this book now that another challenge is getting some more attention again - No Impact Man - with the new documentary and the upcoming book. What's the difference between the two? in two words: toilet paper. Colin Beavan (aka No Impact Man) didn't use toilet paper at all for a year (Just a hand and a bowl of water). Vanessa on the other hand didn't use toilet paper only for number one (She actually tries to learn more how he did it when they meet in New York...).

But of course it's more than that. The journey of Vanessa Farquharson is most likely a journey most urban young people can identify with, dream about and implement if they only want to. It's a significant journey in terms of results, but it's much more flexible than Collin's journey and in a way it makes it more realistic and more interesting. This flexibility also makes this journey more creative -Vanessa for example does not reject flying but decides to use the bathroom before boarding on a plan to decrease her flight's footprint.

Vanessa is always looking for the right balance - she doesn't want to become a treehugger (in its old version, not the hip cool new one), nor she wants to be what she calls "new age hippies"who "are often so intent about meeting X,Y, and Z standards when it comes to greening Sheri lifestyle but because they couple this with so little skepticism it comes off as flaky or even cultish."

She finds her balance eventually, but in the meantime we have the opportunity not only to learn on the changes she makes to green up her lifestyle, but also on her life, her family and her friends. It gets intimate sometimes, which adds an interesting layer to the "green" core story, and last but not least - it always comes with handful of wit, humor and sarcasm, which makes even the most difficult days bearable and this book a real gem.

Bottom line: it's a great book (and also a great gift), well-written, interesting and it's even really green - it's printed on 100% PCW recycled and FSC certified paper. Just go and get it!


We're giving away our review copy of the book, courtesy of the author, 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: What is the most meaningful step you took so far to green up your lifestyle? Submissions are accepted until Thursday, September 3, 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 Eco-Libris website's green resources section.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!


Beth Terry said...

I am a Professional Speaker. One day in an airport, a woman spotted my nametag and began regaling me with stories about how much my blog had changed her life. I soon realized that my CactusWrangler blog was not what she referred to. She had me mixed up with the other Beth Terry - the goddess of plastic activism (

I went in search of this Other Beth Terry, signed on to her blog, became internet friends with her, and immediately felt a need to hold up our reputation for not overdoing it on the plastics.

I'm not as dedicated as the Other Beth is. I still accept a plastic cup filled with my favorite adult beverage at a party... but I only carry reusable grocery bags, am careful to recycle the filmy produce plastic bags till they decompose on the way home from the grocery store; and I started using my own specially made chopsticks which I carry with me instead of using toss-away wooden ones.

In college, way back in the dark ages, we were all doing this stuff. How did we let it get away from us? It's not like we Boomers didn't know. I was happy to rediscover the little things that I can do to make a difference. When I start to wander away from being mindful about my footprint, I just take a gander at the Sargasso Sea photos and it's easy to step up to the plate again.

The "Other" Beth Terry

Miss Cinnamon said...

My mother's taught me to be frugal, but to save money, you have to get the most use out of your materials as well.

I am a college student as well as an on-again, off-again doodler. Instead of obsessing over whether my pencil is 2B, 6H, et cetera, I just grab the same mechanical pencil for note taking and for sketching (and yes, mechanical leads DO show up on Scantrons!). Instead of buying expensive sketchbooks with hot press/cold press paper, I recycle one-sided handouts and returned homework by stapling them together and using the blank sides for my drawing space.

I don't start new notebooks for each new class I take if there is space left in the old notebook. I sharpen any wooden pencils I have with a knife, to save leads and reduce the number of pencils I go through per term.

Reducing our waste for moral reasons may work for more self-conscious people, but I find that when that fails to motivate change, saving money works just fine. At this phase in the economy, who can afford to waste money when we can save it by drawing out the use of what we already have?

Carol M said...

I do little things. I use reusable grocery bags. I no longer use paper towels, paper plates or cups. I walk when possible and car pool whenever I can. I turn off lights when no one is around and I buy used books. I cut up junk mail and use it for taking notes. I recyle paper, cardboard, glass and plastic. Every little thing helps.
Carol M
mittens0831 AT

Unknown said...

Every step is important to becoming a greener citizen. The most important thing I have done is become a member of eco-libris. I am a book lover and have hundreds of them. I found eco-libris and thought it was a wonderful way for me to give back. Now I regularly check out book publishers to find out if they are going green, and look for authors who have printed books on recycled paper.

My son has me recycling on a regular basis and we reuse just about everything we can. Including spaghetti jars and jelly jars. They make great glasses!

Mary Preston said...

I try to follow the 100 mile rule. If it is not grown or produced within 100 miles of where you live - don't buy it. It is not easy but by being creative & saying we don't really need it we manage rather well. It helps that we live near the market gardens though.


tina reynolds said...

ive done four things so far gave up plastic bags only use resusable, gave up plastic bottles i use reusable changed my lightbulbs and im trying composting thanks for the chance to win

Alice H said...

Thanks for the book review! I'm new to your blog - found you through prizey. The biggest thing I'm doing to green up my life is recycling. I live in an area where the city doesn't pick up recylables - which makes it really hard. But I set aside a cupboard where I store things myself and then take a trip once every few weeks and drop things off myself. Thanks for the chance! alicedemskehansen at