If you've got "Go!Green!" overload, but still feel the need to make some positive environmental changes, then I've got just the book for you.
Don't bother with green craft books or organic cook books or any other nonsense.
Just get Jodi Helmer's The Green Year: 365 Small Things You Can Do To Make a Big Difference.
It's the simplest concept, really. A daily almanac, organized by seasons, of small steps you can take to tread lighter on the earth.
Similar to a daily devotional, and in a easy-to-carry size, The Green Year is a really good intro for people thinking about getting greener, for whatever reason. There are energy-saving techniques, cooking and housekeeping tips, consumer product information, transportation and travel recommendations and outdoors and garden ideas.
Here are few samples:
May 10: Toss lemon peels in your garden to keep cats from using your soil as a litter box.
October 28: Stock your bathroom with bars of soap. The scented body wash in your shower is packaged in a plastic container made of non-renewable, petroleum-based sources and uses a lot more packaging than a bar of soap. If every household in the United States replaced one bottle of body wash with a bar of soap, it would save almost 2. 5 million pounds of plastic containers from going to the landfill.
December 21: Pay a teenager to shovel your driveway. You could go outside and do it yourself or you could help one of the teenagers in your neighborhood earn some spending money. Shoveling the driveway by hand is also better for the environment. Research shows that small gasoline engines, like those used in snow blowers, produce the same amount of pollution as a car.
Not high-faluting stuff, no technical science, nothing requiring insane levels of carpentry or that you live in a Geodesic Dome home. But good, daily reminders of the steps you can take for a better world.
Because I'm always interested in the thrift side of the green movement, I asked Jodi Helmer where she found herself in the whole dilemma of thrift stores being simultaneously a "green choice" and an unfortunate by-product of our nation's unrelenting lust for consumerism.
"I fall somewhere in the middle, and here’s why," Helmer explained. "We do need to evaluate our consumption habits. We spend a lot of money on things we don’t need or and we don’t know their origins. We spend less money on things that are expendable – we buy something really cheap and then use it for a year and no longer have a use for it."
She continued. "We can’t change the fact that once somebody has purchased something, it’s out there. I think the best place to get it is a GoodWill or a consignment. Do we need to stop accumulating things and participating in mass consumption of goods? Yes. But because so many of us have accumulated things, there’s nothing wrong with giving those products a second life."
Helmer used an example from her own life. She had been a career counselor at one point and had accumulated a wardrobe of work wear that she found herself no longer needing.
"The suits already existed," she says. "I needed them at a point in my life. I could have tossed them in a trash bag. I could have given them to Good Will. I donated them to Dress for Success. It’s a choice we can make. It’s a great organization. "
Helmer also points out the obvious appeal of reuse.
"Somebody was telling me this the other day, about donating newspapers and blankets to animal shelters," she recalls. "Or pots and pans that are falling apart - you can donate them for food and water dishes for the dogs. We can’t get away from needing new things. But what we are going to do with the things we can no longer use?"
According to Helmer, about 4 billion tons of clothing every year get thrown away, 4% of which goes into the landfills.
"We can’t feel guilty about buying the things that we need and want," Helmer says. "It's part of our culture. But we need to reevaluate our idea of need. And we need to rethink some of our wants."
I think I'm digging Jodi Helmer. Check her more of her writing here.
The Green Year makes a great housewarming or wedding gift, and it's ideal for anyone who is reticent about going green and just needs some simple encouragement.