Green Chic – Saving The Earth in Style Eco Book Review

Green Chic – Saving The Earth in Style by Christie Matheson is a book for people who want to go green without giving up on great style. Being thoughtfully, consciously green makes a real difference in the fight against global warming. But did you know it’s also hip, classic and stylish?

Green Chic - Saving The Earth in Style Book

I like to think I’m knowledgeable about green issues, and not in an obnoxious way, but I read a lot of green websites and books. However I’m completely open to the fact that a lot of people haven’t got around to it yet even though they would embrace the ideas. Green Chic is definitely a book for beginners, going through the basics covered in may other places (such as our own 100 Ways To Save The Planet), but puts a unique spin on it. Doing green things that make you look and appear better, and even save money makes Green Chic a good read for those wanting to do their part.

The book is wonderfully realistic between changes a person might do and those they’re unlikely to do. Honestly, there is always going to be a range from what someone SHOULD do to what someone is WILLING to do, and the book covers that really well. Yes, it’s “light green” in terms of actions, but with the facts backing them up to show that people can go further than what is recommended as being easy.

Reduce clutter, eat organic food, less red meat and so on are all tips given, but so is the main theme or don’t stop buying, just be more thoughtful when buying products about where they came from, and what they are doing to you. They’re things everyone can do, and the book proves it’s not hard to be green and chic. Available for just over $10 from Amazon.

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Night Fire Eco Book Review

We read a lot of green books here at Life Goggles, so sometimes it’s nice to read on with a different slant. Night Fire by Ronnie Greene is subtitled Oil, Posion Air, And Margie Richard’s Fight To Save Her Town.

Night Fire by Ronnie Greene

It’s the story of how a woman who lived close (25 feet away!) to a chemical plant became determined to hold Shell accountable for the environmental poison that she, and her neighbours were exposed to. Margie Richard educated herself and her neighbours in environmental hazards and also legal matters in an effort to get to the truth. A truth that cost her sister, Naomi, her life as she succumbed to a rare lung disease linked to environmental poison.

Written by a prize-winning investigative journalist called Ronnie Greene, the author does a great job of bringing together interviews, documents and news reports into an interesting story. The largely poor African-American neighborhood of Diamond in Norco, Louisiana is brought to life in manner that makes it all the more familiar and real. From the early 1970’s to almost 35 years later, it’s an interesting journey and a shining example of what people, and the human spirit can achieve. It’s also frightening to see what circumstances some people are, perhaps unwittingly, living in.

Available now from Amazon, published by Harper Collins.

The Transition Handbook – From Oil Dependency To Local Resilience Book Review

The Transition Handbook – is written by Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Movement and published by Green Books in the UK and Chelsea Green in the US.

Now I can’t pretend to have read the entire book while I write this, but I plan to. It’s just that it’s 240 big pages long with two to three columns a page – it’s going to take me a while to get through it. And a lot of it is about starting your own Transition initiative which I don’t plan to do. Yet.

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But back to the beginning, the whole transition thing of this ‘Transition Movement’ is to do with moving away from the dependency on oil and building resilience – i.e. building a way of coping with the change when oil runs out. And the book is a guide to the issues central this change and how to prepare for a different future.

Split up into three main chapters: The Head, The Heart and The Hands, the book starts off with a great introduction to what it’s all about. The amount of text initially looks fearsome, but Rob Hopkins writes with a relaxed style that draws you in and the more you read the less hard work the book seems. What makes it more interesting is that Rob relies on his own experiences to draw you in and explains things in a clear and relaxed style.

There are also box-outs, quotes from newspapers, authors and experts to help spice things up a bit. There is a reliance of some graphs and charts at the start, but these soon make way to photos or communities and people who are going through the changes outlines in the book.

Having someone writing the book who has been through the experience readers of this book are going through is invaluable. The Transition Tools and Transition Tips are there to ensure future projects go smoother and the insights seem very useful. But the book also makes a good read for those not immediately planning on starting a cultural change in their local town or village. It’s interesting to see what real people from across the world have done and read about something inspiring.

As I mentioned at the start, I haven’t read everything yet, but the story the book tells is very compelling. Flicking to Part Three: The Hands, is an inspiring moment. Seeing the Transition movement in Totnes, Devon (UK) is amazing. Seeing what they achieved and being given a blueprint to do it yourself as well is food for thought. As is how the Transition approach differs from conventional environmentalism in its group approach, proactivity and resilience idea.

If you’re interested in practical solutions to how you and your community can move away from a dependency on oil, or even if you fancy reading a story about how it can be done, I’d recommend this book. The Transition Handbook – From Oil Dependency To Local Resilience is available from Green Books, priced £12.95 and printed on 100% recycled paper. You can see a video of Rob talking about his book here.

Organic Places To Stay Book Review

This is the second edition of Organic Places To Stay (in the UK) by Linda Moss and it’s essentially a guide book listing four different types of places to spend a night or week around the United Kingdom – bed and breakfast, hotels, self-catering and camping.

More than 300 pages long with over 500 different accommodations, it’s certainly a thorough guide to finding an organic place to stay, and there are maps at the beginning to help you easily find somewhere in your local area. After that the book is in alphabetical order by county.

Each location includes the name, picture, address, phone number, website, email and so on, with this update edition also including things like whether dogs and children are accepted, and handily, icons depicting whether the place is within one mile of a train station or bus stop.

Although the term ‘organic’ is never clearly defined, it does say whether each place is certified by a particular organic body which is useful and you’d expect them all to be organic in some way to be in the book in the first place. It’s laid out in a very clear manner and as long as you’ve read the ‘How to use this book’ section, there’s little difficulty finding your way around, with an index to help too.

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The one area where this differs from a guide book is that the description of each place is written by the owner/landlord so there are no independent reviews of the places, and the author hasn’t actually visited them personally. This leads to each place enthusing about what they have to offer and one can only hope they live up to their claims, I certainly hope they would and I suppose it’s a testament to the book that I plan to go and check a few out for myself.

And when I do, I’ll be filling in the feedback form at the back of the book (well I’ll be emailing the publisher as I would quite like to keep the last page of the index which is on the back of the form) which is useful for them to add and I would expect the next edition to have some feedback from people who have stayed there. Obviously it can’t compete with the internet for space etc, but an independent opinion or two would be handy.

Overall, it’s a very handy reference book for both people visiting the UK and wanting to stay ‘green’ and also for a resident looking to have a green break. Organic Places To Stay costs £10.95 and is available from Green Books.

“Making good use of this book will help those who run these places to build relocalised and self-sufficient food systems for the future.” Patrick Holden CBE, director, Soil Association

Big Green Purse Book Review And Your Chance To Win A Copy Soon!

As the book Big Green Purse by Diane MacEachern is primarily aimed at women, I asked my wife to read it first. She gave me a sigh, rolled her eyes and said she would skim it, but it ended up being so interesting she read it cover to cover. Here’s a direct quote (honest!):

“This is one of the most informative and life changing books I’ve ever read. It beats those ‘self-help’ books hands down as this actually contains practical information that you can use and apply for the rest of your life.”

Women spend eight-five cents of every dollar in the US marketplace. Big Green Purse is about harnessing that spending power to improve the environment, influence manufacturers and to help you and your family to live a simpler, cleaner and healthier life.

Although my wife recommends reading the whole book, for those that are short on time it’s broken into digestable chunks, such as cars, produce, cosmetics, kids and babies, and so on. Even if you don’t read the whole chapter there is a wrap up section at the end which summarizes the main points.

Big Green Purse by Diane MacEachern

She found it extremely interesting as it gave lots of excellent facts and statistics but doesn’t lay on a guilt-trip. However you might feel unwell after reading about all the crap we’re putting into our bodies… It makes you want to change your lifestyle for the better and shows easy ways to do this without spending any more money.

There are lots of practical tips and suggestions for which products to buy and avoid. These tips are actually useful rather than generic “buy natural” advice you often get. The book has seven Big Green Purse shopping principles:

  1. Buy less
  2. Read the label
  3. Support sustainable standards
  4. Look for third party verification
  5. Choose fewer ingredients
  6. Pick less packaging
  7. Buy local

Instead of just telling us the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recyle) Diane actually tells us how we can do it. She expands on information that most of us know at least a little bit about, and my wife picked up a few new facts as well:

  • Clean, don’t sterilize. Avoid anti-bacterial products such as soaps and personal care products as they do more harm than good
  • Avoid fragrances, phthalates, parabens and triclosan in cosmetics and personal care products
  • Buy sustainable seafood with the MSC label and select small fish like trout over the larger predators like tuna and seabass
  • Only certain types of plastics can be recycled – if you have to buy items in plastic, buy ones that can easily be recycled
  • Plant an eco-lawn as a great alternative to a traditional lawn
  • If you plant three trees on the west side of your home you can trim your air-conditioning bill by up to 30% due to the shade they create

In summary it’s a great reference book to have on hand when you go shopping for certain products and although it’s geared to women, it has many ideas that men and women would equally find interesting. Finally, my wife says “buy this book and lend to all your friends!”

So you want a copy? It’s currently available for an absolute bargain of around $12 from Amazon (or £8 in the UK). Life Goggles will also be giving away a copy, though we have a couple of other competitions planned for the next two weeks, so stay tuned via RSS or email for your chance to win one.

How To Turn Your Parents Green Book Review

How To Turn Your Parents Green is written by James Russell, illustrated by Øivind Hovland and was supplied to Life Goggles by Charlie at Green Books.

Aimed at kids ‘from 8-80’ How To Turn Your Parents Green is a book for a future generation of eco warriors. Presenting the challenge to be green as a battle of the Greens versus the Groans (ungreen adults) the book urging children to become green by fining their parents if they’re not environmentally-friendly.

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But it’s more than that, it tries to put the pester power that kids have to good use – turn it away from sweets and candy to switching off the tap and buying local food. And it does this with the help of humorous phrases and great drawings by Øivind Hovland.

Although I make the ludicrous age range for this book, I’m admittedly quite a bit older than those it’s really aimed at. So at first the phrases ‘Ghastly Global Warming’, Hellish Halogens’ and other similarly alliterate and capital lettered ones got on my nerves. But after a while I got used to it and ‘Lazy Train to Chubville’ got me smiling.

While humorous, the book is also informative and it does this cleverly by asking questions but then often making up one of the answers just to make you smile. It nicely explained what a leachate is (rubbish sludge mixed with rainwater) and other facts are presented simply and in a way that a child could easily relate to a parent.

The explanations of subjects like importing fruit from abroad or having a standby button on the TV show how ridiculous they are and that the reader shouldn’t stand for such practices. Luckily it then tells you what you can do about them and gives examples of things done in the past – such as the boy who saved the Severn Beach railway line. Practical examples, goals and checklists make it almost an activity book and even inspired me to do more.

Apart from my initial problem of getting into the book, once you’re used to the style it makes an enjoyable and informative read for all ages. Aimed at kids changing their parents’ habits (fining them for using carrier bags etc), it also has useful tips for turning teachers green and also becoming a green citizen yourself.

Available at Green Books, How To Turn Your Parents Green costs £6.50, is 91 pages, is printed on Nine Lives recycled paper and published by Tangent Books.

The Green Book Product Review

The green book has been featured on TV shows and is a New York Times bestseller. Written by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen, I wondered whether it has anything to do with the celebrity quotes and endorsements from people such as Cameron Diaz, Robert Redford, Jennifer Aniston and Justin Timberlake?

Firstly the book is green, not just in colour but also it’s printed on 100% recycled paper. Subtitled as ‘the everyday guide to saving the planet one simple step at a time’ the book is more about being “more good” than “less bad” with a series of nicely structured tips.

Each chapter begins with The Big Picture on the topic, whether it be travel, school or shopping for example. Followed by Simple Steps which provides three practical steps to take in that particular area. Then finally The Little Things provides more details and small steps that can be taken.

the green book review

Chapters are broken up by the aforementioned celebrity quotes, which frankly don’t add much to the besides to show how big and clever these people are. Some of the tips can be a little confusing or contradictory, such as suggesting you take your own toiletries on vacation, but then not to check any luggage on the plane. Then also to use the library for books and then saying not to use libraries but go online. OK so these are minor points, but some tips are a little picky, I enjoyd the book more when it concentrated on practical measures rather than small, inconvenient suggestions that don’t make much of an impact when done.

What is kind of nice is the comparison it makes for each tip. For example when suggesting if everyone used one less paper napkin a day, the amount saved could be used to provide one to every person who eats a hotdog on July 4th (150m). Or the amount of trash saved is equivalent to the weight of the Great Pyramid. I’ve never seen a plastic frisbee 2.5 miles in diameter but thanks for the image.

The Simple Steps sections are useful, but not full of that much you can’t get for free online anyway, including our very own 100 Ways To Save The Planet. There were some useful facts that you can bring up at parties, like Blu-Ray discs can be recycled as they’re 50% paper, natural make-up only needs to contain 1% natural ingredients to be labeled as natural, and the world’s largest consumer of aluminum is the anti-perspirant industry.

The green book can be bought through our Life Goggles Reviews and Shop page or direct from Amazon.