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!


We Are What We Do – Something To Inspire Us All

Every now and then, we come across an organization or product that really inspires us. One such organization is the simple, engaging and environmentally-friendly We are what we do. Rather aptly titled, the UK-based charity describes itself as ‘a global movement that inspires people to use their everyday behaviour to affect big environmental and social issues.’ It’s a pretty ambitious aim, but when you check out their credentials, they certainly pack a punch.

Remember the wonderful bag, designed by Anya Hindmarch, with the strapline ‘I’m NOT a plastic bag.’? A limited edition run, the bag became synonymous with the move away from plastic bags, and towards an altogether more sustainable way to carry groceries and other shopping. And the idea for the bag? It came from this great little charity that seems to be brimming with good green ideas.

I am not a plastic bag

Simple actions
If you check out the We are what we do website, you’ll find ideas for 132 actions that you can do right now, to help make life a little bit better for everyone. From saving energy to recycling, donating money to improving the area that you live in, there’s something for everyone. The website includes a live counter, which allows you to ‘report’ when you’ve completed an action – and with almost 5 million actions taken by site visitors, they’re definitely on to something! Examples of individual actions include:

#094 Make coffee for someone busier than you
#025 Use a mug, not a plastic cup
#101 Make someone smile
#013 Recycle your mobile phone
And my personal favorite…..#123 Don’t start a war.

The site demonstrates that small, simple actions have the power to change lives and improve our planet.

From humble beginnings
Founded by David Robinson, a community worker, and Eugenie Harvey, a communications and marketing specialist, the charity has attracted creative thinkers from business, government and the voluntary sector with the aim of finding new and innovative ways to change society for the better. The charity has published two books – including their bestselling Change the world for a fiver which included ideas contributed by people around the world which would make the world a better place. This was closely followed by Change the world 9–5 which focused on encouraging positive behaviour change in the workplace.

The organization is also committed to inspiring young people, and now runs a Young Speakers Program, training young volunteers to give talks and run assemblies in schools across the UK, which encourage their peers to take action on the issues that matter most to them. Their latest campaign, ‘Teach your granny to text’, is designed to encourage intergenerational bonding – helping young and old people to spend time together and learn from each other. So, there’s no shortage of great ideas, and site visitors are invited to contribute their own ideas too. So, if you’ve got a wonderful idea for improving life as we know it, why not email …if anyone can make it happen, they can!

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.

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.

Bill Streever – Cold Book Review

Cold – Adventures in The World’s Frozen Places is a book that looks cold. But that’s OK, it was 100°F today so I don’t mind.

Living in Anchorage, Alaska, Bill knows what it’s like to be cold. Split into 12 monthly chapters – July to June for some reason, the book is a nice change, rather than global warming it talks about the places that are still cold, and how this effects the people and animals there, and across the world.

There are plenty of historical references setting the scene in context and I enjoyed the nature parts the most, learning things on almost every page. I thought all Polar bears hibernated (nope, just the females), some frogs can freeze and still return to life, and a full-grown musk ox can shed five pounds of underfur per year.


I’ve never made it to Alaska, or the Arctic, but this books makes you want to go, it’s almost a travel guide in one respect. There are slow parts, and parts where I would have liked more information (though there’s a great notes section in the back for further reading), but no more than any other book I’ve read.

Definitely worth a read.

Time’s Up! An Uncivilised Solution To A Global Crisis Eco Book Review.

Published by Green Books, Time’s Up! by Keith Farnish is an intriguing analysis of industrial civilisation which depicts a denunciation of populist consumer culture and an ideal of an environmentalist global population which ‘re-connects’ with the natural world. It is clear and well written but thorough and in no way is it a light read…

In terms of the success of the book in not only explaining the motives for change and the methods by which we could make the change, the clarity of the language is equalled by the confusion of ideas; although there are admirable concepts explained well throughout, Farnish is never able to completely get to grips with them.

Time's Up

The book is structured initially as an explanation of global warming by scale – for example, climate change would have effects on the proliferation of viruses as well as the rainforest eco-systems. This is a fresh way of looking at the issue and works well, even if I was left a little terrified. Moving on, the reader wades through the vast mire of the immorality of consumer culture, before Farnish unveils his ‘subversive’ solution to these problems as ‘Undermining’ western culture and thus saving the planet in one self-righteous swoop.

Farnish critically analyses many of the predominant issues which link our consumer lifestyles with environmental decay. The main problem with the book however is that Farnish comes across as someone who has addressed a lot of post-modern theory without thoroughly understanding it; his somewhat shameful plagiarism of Baudrillard’s Gulf War casualty statistic does not go un-noticed and his constant relation to some form of neo-Marxism is never fully explained.

Furthermore, I was left wholly dissatisfied with the conclusion of the book as Farnish talks up the ending constantly. A quote on the back by Ana Salote, Author of Tree Talk that it is, ‘the most subversive book I have ever read,’ is almost embarrassing and Farnish’s assurance that we can make a global change through undermining is insufficient.

However, Farnish’s assertion that the key lies with education shows that he does at least identify where change must be made for the good of the environment although he never fully develops this crucial idea.

In sum, the book is well written and thorough but does suffer from becoming a bit heavy in the middle as Farnish bashes western culture. Indeed, Farnish appears much more distracted with deploring modern consumerism than espousing environmental issues, which unfortunately serves to fatally undermine Farnish’s authority on the environment.

Time’s Up costs £9.95 and is available from Green Books.

50 Of The Best Green Books For You Or As Gifts

I wish I could take credit for this one, reading 50 green books and giving you my recommendations, but I can’t. That credit has to go to Raz from Eco-Libris. We’ve written about Eco-Libris before and the good work it does and even interviewed the co-founder and CEO, Raz Godelnik.

In a five-part series of blog posts he give his thoughts on the top 50 green books in his opinion. Intended for the holidays/Christmas 2008, the guide is relevant at any time of the year and not only is it good as a guide for presents, but he gives so much detail about each book you may find yourself shopping for a copy for your own bookshelf.


The links to the five parts are below:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5