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book coverGorgeously Green by Sophie Uliano Going green is increasingly fashionable, with books aimed at every possible demographic. This book is aimed at the shopping fashionista who isn’t sure that regular products are really all that bad and certainly isn’t going to risk looking dowdy to benefit the earth. I myself am pretty fashion challenged, passionate about being environmental, and have neither the money or the patience for a lot of shopping. But hey, the cover was cute, so I thought I’d give it a try. Uliano, a yoga instructor, is really trying to make being green easier, spiritual, and more fun. The tone is chatty, talking about her own successes and shortcomings, and the book includes frequent references to fun quizzes and prizes available on the associated website. Her advice includes thoughts on the usual yucky chemicals and processes, along with which warrant throwing away the product and which are safe enough to finish before being replaced; chatty product advice; some easy yoga and meditations, as well as recipes for beauty products and fast but tasty food. Each chapter focuses on a different area of life, and concludes with a menu of five action steps, from which you are supposed to choose one. I am getting sick of people saying that G Diapers, where you dump the gel in the toilet, stir with considerable force and several flushes, and wash the cloth cover, are so much easier than cloth diapers that modern cloth diaper options don’t even need to be mentioned. Everyone I’ve talked to that’s tried both says that cloth is a lot easier, yet every book I read on the subject lately assumes without trying that the opposite is true. Anyway, mini-rant aside, this is a fine book for those just getting started being green, especially those to whom the term “Gorgeously Green Girl” sounds appealing.
library_mama: (sunflower)
[ profile] odinyotoo wrote about this on her blog a while back. And then I was weeding in my 500s, and there it was, just waiting for me. I’d never even noticed it before. It falls in the dreaded number 508, the number for general natural history. This is where natural history memoirs go. They usually get starred reviews in the journals, so I feel obliged to buy them, but no matter how interesting the book may be to actually read, I can’t get any of my patrons to actually check them out. This book was over ten years old, though, so even though I read it and it was really good, and anyone interested either in gardening or in having a low-maintenance yard should read it, it’s now in my personal collection, not the library, but still up for borrowing.

book coverNoah’s Garden by Sara Stein Author Stein wrote in a previous book about her family’s journey to become Gardeners, after buying a largish property. This book is about her becoming an un-gardener, planting with native plants rather than exotic imported plants, letting the flowers feed the bugs and the birds rather than spraying the bugs and raking away the food. Noah’s ark wouldn’t really have worked without bringing the plants, because the larger predators eat the smaller insect- and herbivores, and everything is highly adapted to live off of the native plants of that particular region. That means that if we want birds, rather that buying birdfeeders, we can look for native flowers and fruiting shrubs, without even knowing what will feed who when. Though she’s got a recommendation from Michael Pollan, this book is closer to Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle than The Ominvore’s Dilemma, more her own particular tale with some background woven in than the reverse. Even though their property was an old farmstead, she talks about the power of everyone planting their corners and edges with fruiting bushes that provide food for birds and cover for small animals, creating safe corridors where they can travel. There are ideas here for yards small and big in this gentle and inspiring book.

For us, we were already planning on replacing the long-ago vegetable garden and more recent raspberry and maple jungle with a native meadow. (Sadly, they didn’t have the kits at the farmer’s market yet this weekend.) After reading this book, I’m hoping to put in more understory trees, shrubs and native woodland plants in, expanding the shady areas of our yard where the grass doesn’t like to grow anyway. We’ll save the front lawn, and in the back, eventually, have paths to three or so open grassy areas. That should provide a lot more for wildlife, and also make mowing much less of a chore. I’m anticipating that exploring paths will be more fun for children than one big open lawn, too.
library_mama: (reading)
book coverThe Apple-Pip Princess by Jane RayIn a kingdom long ago and far away, a king had three daughters. When the Queen died, the land turned brown and barren, and no one had enough to eat. Now, the king has given the princesses a week to show him which should inherit the kingdom. The older two sisters have grand ideas, but Serenity, the youngest, has only a single apple pip from her mother. The importance of the earth, growing things, and consideration for others are beautifully illustrated in Jane Ray’s trademark starry and ethnically indeterminate style.
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Here's one for Earth Day, a day early.

I'm happy to say that things have changed for the better since I had Mr. Froggie Pants. When I was pregnant and reading about how to have a green baby, everything seemed very fringe. The products they recommended were astronomically expensive, available only by mail order (I'm ok with mail-ordering diapers; paint, not so much) and looked like they would fall apart under normal usage. It all seemed so scary that I just ignored most of it.

book coverGreen Babies, Sage Moms by Lynda Fassa

Now comes this very accessible book, full of solid advice on every aspect of keeping dangerous chemicals out of your baby’s life. It's geared towards pregnancy and baby care, but since just about everything in the house affects a baby, it covers enough to be useful to anyone wanting to improve their health and the environment at the same time. Here's a short list: food, beauty products, gifts, cleaning, baby gear, clothes, detoxing the home, outside play, winning over family and neighbors, and connecting to other mothers. The advice is solid, and comes from a woman who didn't want to give up mascara or spend all her time in the kitchen cooking. The reasons for going green are covered without being too scary, and sources are given for everything she recommends. She has numorous small contributions from experts in the field, including makers of chlorine and gel-free disposible diapers and makers of cloth diapers. Every chapter ends with a summary, dividing steps to be taken into three levels of green: evergeeen, pea green, and spring green, with the easiest and most important steps under spring green. That makes it easy to determine your level of commitment or to take things in smaller steps. For example, for food, spring green is buying only the Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables organic, pea green is buying all organic, and evergreen is buying all local organic. The resource guide at the back includes even more resources than are given in the main text. This is a great start for anyone looking to go organic.
library_mama: (Default)
Green Living: The E Magazine Handbook for Living Lightly on the Earth by E Magazine I don’t normally include the post-colon parts of book titles here, but this one explains the book very well. I have it on loan from my friend A., but unlike many of my borrowed books, this one is very new. It’s divided up into chapters on things like food, home construction, baby stuff, and gardening. All of the chapters talk about the environmental and health risks of whatever methods or products are commonly used, practical things to do about it, and – perhaps most helpful of all – annotated resource lists. If you want to know where to get low VOC paints, or insulation, or fairly traded clothing that you could actually wear to work, this book will tell you where to get them. And by the time you’ve read the convincingly argued first part of the chapter, you’ll want to. I have to admit that the baby stuff still depresses me, as there seems to be no good solution for bottles, but on the whole, this book is matter-of-fact about the serious issues, and upbeat about ways to help. And if, like most everyone we know, you can’t afford to do it all right, it also talks about how to prioritize and which things are most important to put your money into. I hope my friend doesn’t want it back too soon.


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