Five Green Books For Your Christmas List

Each year, Americans generate a staggering 25 million extra tons of household waste between Thanksgiving and New Year. That’s a pretty good reason to think about how to increase your green during the holiday season. And since it’s also a time for gifts and giving, we’ve got the perfect list of eco-friendly books to pop in the festive stocking for your nearest and dearest. Enjoy!

1. Green Christmas: How to Have a Joyous, Eco-Friendly Holiday Season, by Jennifer Basye Sander & Peter Sander, with Anne Basye
Based on a number of key principles including family involvement, entertaining without waste, improving energy efficiency and supporting local business, Green Christmas is a wonderful way to enjoy a more ethical Christmas. From throwing greener parties to eco-friendly Christmas decorations, this book reminds us of what the holidays are all about – enjoying time together as a family while doing our bit to protect the environment. So, if you’d like a fun, stress-free and more economical Christmas, check out this guide to a greener holiday!

Green Christmas

2. Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home, by Renee Loux
If you’re keen to make more ethical lifestyle choices for you and your family, this book is a great place to start. Renee Loux covers everything from green cleaning to personal care, lighting and home furnishings to interior decorating. Loux encourages readers to take small steps towards greener living, by focus on how we can all make simple, healthier and more sustainable choices, which are good for us and good for the environment. A great book to help put your greener new year’s resolutions into action.

3. Easy to Be Green: Simple Activities You Can Do to Save the Earth (Little Green Books) by Ellie O’Ryan
If you’re interested in inspiring your children to think green, this great little activity book could be just the thing. It’s packed with lots of information about global warming and why it’s important to act now to help reduce our carbon footprint. With chapters on trash and landfill, endangered animals, recycling and composting, there’s plenty of practical ways to encourage your children to take action. Each section is also accompanied by games, activities and puzzles to reinforce learning and raise awareness of the environment and how we can protect it.

4. Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet, by Elizabeth Rogers
Packed with practical tips to help you save money and save the planet, Shift Your Habit helps you make simple new choices about the way you life your life. There’s loads of great ideas including brewing your own beer, reducing food waste and bringing food back to life, disposing of disposables (forever) and natural recipes for cleaning products – definitely something for everyone! And the best news is that these eco-friendly ideas can save you hundreds of dollars. Good for your wallet and good for the environment!

Shift Your Habit

5. The Green Body Cleanse, by Dr Edward Group III
If, like me, you’re inclined to over-indulge during the holiday season, this is the book for you. Dr Group provides a range of tools and techniques to help you detox your home, your office and your body. Packed with tips, recipes and ideas for living a toxic-free life, this book is a great way to feel better about yourself at the same time as taking care of the planet!


The Family Dinner by Laurie David

This is a guest post by my wife Sarah: My husband knows me well. After receiving a copy of Laurie David’s new hot-off-the-press book, The Family Dinner: Great ways to connect with your kids, one meal at a time, he immediately handed it over to me as he knew I’d enjoy anything about food and kids. Upon first glance, I thought it was a ‘green’ cookbook with some information about how to connect with your family, but as I started turning the pages, I realized it was quite the opposite. I became engrossed immediately and ended up reading the entire book cover to cover, which I definitely was NOT planning on originally doing!

Perhaps the best way I can describe this book is to call it the must-have manual or bible for anyone who wants to raise well-adjusted children and foster a loving and connected family atmosphere (and who doesn’t?). Definitely not your average cookbook. Laurie David, producer of An Inconvenient Truth, author of Stop Global Warming and former wife of Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David, is a passionate parent who strongly believes that simply by consistently having one meal a day together, today’s overwhelmed, busy, technology-addicted families can learn how to engage and converse with one another, feel more connected as a family unit, and eat healthier and help the planet to boot.

David shares that research consistently proves that everything we worry about as parents – from drugs and alcohol, promiscuity, to obesity, academic achievement and just good old nutrition – can all be improved by the simple act of eating and talking together around the table. The book is divided into themed chapters to cover everything well-meaning (but busy) parents need to know, including easy steps and rules to having a successful dinner, setting the scene, involving everyone in the cooking and preparing, ways to express gratitude, conversation starters and inspirational ideas from the news, books, and poetry.

There are over 75 fantastic recipes submitted by the family’s Danish friend and personal chef, Kirstin Uhrenholdt, including tips on getting kids involved. There’s also a great section about how to keep the family dinner ritual intact in the months and years following a divorce or family change.

The book also focuses on how family dinners offer an opportunity to help sustain our planet in addition to our family connectedness. There are plenty of green tips, including composting, growing your own vegetables and herbs, eating less meat (there’s a whole chapter on “Meatless Mondays” including plenty of veggie recipes) and using organic and local produce in your everyday cooking.

As if that weren’t enough, Laurie has incorporated personal stories, words of wisdom, tips and advice from a wide range of well-known chefs, restaurateurs, celebrities, authors, poets, academics, doctors, food activists, and family and parenting experts, which add credibility, interest and inspiration to this gem of a book. These contributions are scattered throughout the book amongst the recipes, text, and beautiful photos, making the whole thing very visually appealing and easy to read.

Perhaps the only criticism I have of The Family Dinner is how the recipes are organized. They are included within certain chapters by theme; for example, vegetarian recipes can be found in the Meatless Mondays chapter, easy and fast recipes are to be found in the Fast Recipes section, recipes that the kids will have fun helping out with are in the Cook Together chapter, etc. It makes sense as you read the book straight through but when it comes down to finding a recipe to cook for tonight’s dinner, you’ll have to do a bit of searching and flipping pages to find the one you want.

Aside from that, I found this book to be incredibly powerful. I am pregnant with our first child and already have visions of our happy little family sitting around the dinner table, playing games, talking and laughing, eating healthy and nutritious food, and simply being together. Thanks to this book, it’s not simply a pie in the sky notion now, it is an easily obtainable dream.

The Family Dinner will be making itself a permanent home on our kitchen shelf and every time I find myself needing pointers on how to engage everyone in a productive conversation (I’m sure we’ll reach those teenage years before we know it!), fun word games, thought-provoking readings, ideas for saying grace, how to get kids involved in the process of preparing and enjoying food, or just simple inspiration on how to stay connected in today’s harried world, there is no doubt I will be reaching for this book again and again.

Available now from Amazon.

Grow Your Own Mushrooms – In An Old Book

While you can give old books to charity or sell them, why not grow mushrooms in them?

Yep, you read that right, mushrooms in an old book. Check out the picture below. Nigel, from Nigel’s Eco Store fame has been trying them himself and written about them on his blog here.

Oyster mushrooms grown in a book

The store sells a kit which contains oyster mushroom spores and all you need is a book, a little bit of water and five weeks to wait to eat them. Well it’s a little bit more fiddly than that, you need to keep the book (in its bag) in different places to ensure they grow right but looking at Nigel’s post the results are spectacular.

The kit costs £11.99.

Free eBook – 133 Ways To Save The Planet

Remember 100 Ways To Save The Planet? Well we’ve made it 33% better with making 133 Ways To Save The Planet now available as a free download.

Updated and redesigned, the eBook yours free by entering your email address and signing up to our weekly mailing list. It contains tips and ideas of how to start making small steps to becoming more environmentally friendly. There’s nothing too taxing in there, being eco-conscious is easy.

133 Ways is also focused on saving money so we home you find the tips both useful and frugal. A couple of sample tips are below, so you can try before you buy, even if it is free!

“Buy used nappies for your baby. Clean, reusable ones anyway. is an auction site that specialises in, you’ve guessed it, nappies. Buying previously used nappies is better for the environment and I would have thought, cheaper too.”

“Use a drain sieve. Keeping food and other bits out of your drains will mean they won’t become blocked and lead you to pour chemicals down it to unblock it. Also never pour grease or fat down there as it will solidify and block your drains and the main sewage system.”

“Be gentle with your boiling. A pan gently boiling and a raging cauldron will actually be the same temperature, so turn down the heat a bit and save some energy. You can actually turn the heat off after boiling with vegetables and pasta. Just keep the lid on the pan and check after a few minutes to see if it’s done as you like.”

Get it for free below.

Going To Environmental Study School?

The Fiske Guide to Colleges is a book designed to help make the most intelligent educational investment you can. The revised and updated 2011 edition of The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2011 by Edward B. Fiske features over 300 of the country’s best and most interesting colleges and universities.

In this edition Edward Fiske has personally handpicked ten undergrad environmental studies programs that should be on YOUR radar for the 2011 academic year if you’re planning on studying the environment.

Colby College – In small-town Maine, an ideal perch to study the environment.
College of the Atlantic – Tiny college for alternative types that is totally devoted to human ecology.
University of California, Davis –Renowned for its research and innovation in the environmental, agricultural and biological sciences.
University of Colorado at Boulder – There is no bigger draw than Boulder for the nation’s green movement.
Dartmouth College – The Ivy League’s only rural outpost, and its leading program in environmental studies.
Eckerd College – Small college near St. Petersburg with its own stretch of Gulf Coast beach.
The Evergreen State College – Epicenter of all things green in the Pacific Northwest.
University of North Carolina at Asheville – Set among the North Carolina mountains
Tulane University – After Hurricane Katrina, Tulane stepped up its game.
University of Washington – Leader in the study of the environment in the seas as well as on land.

The guide accepts no consulting, advertising, or other fees from colleges and has no outside relationship with colleges working on its behalf.

For more info go to Amazon, Source Books or Fisk Guide.

Book Of Green Has Eco Living Covered

Life Goggles is in the 2009/10 Book of Green – the “eco living directory”.

It’s a printed and online directory of eco businesses from fashion to building, from green electricity suppliers to earth-friendly nappies. So if you want to find something green, this should have it covered.

As I said, it’s available online but also in independent organic and green shops. We’re on page 74 by the way.

Ecological Awareness Audio CDs Released

More Than Sound publishes audio books and interviews. They sent us news of their new Ecological Awareness 3 CD series.

“Daniel Goleman as he talks strategy with key leaders of Ecological Intelligence. Goleman and his guests delve into the practical applications, and urgent necessity, of radical transparency – explaining the coming paradigm-shift that will change the way we consume, the way we create, and how we understand the world and ourselves.”

You can listen to a 15 minute sample of the audio below, quite interesting.

If you can’t see the mp3 player, click here).

You can learn more about it on More Than Sound.