A Green Living Book for the Newb: 48 Things to Know About Sustainable Living

Author’s note: Turner Publishing provided me with a free electronic copy of this book for reviewing. And sustainablog does get a mention in the book… thank you, Victoria!

48 ThingsGot a friend or relative who’s let you know that “I’d love to try this whole eco-living thing, but I’m just so set in my ways?” Or “I don’ t need to add more stress/expense to my life?” We all know someone like this… they love the concept of lightening their environmental footprint, but see it as something that’s going to require huge effort, and probably huge expense, to do right.

Despite our best efforts, the idea that living green requires radical sacrifices is still out there. So, a book like Victoria Klein‘s new 48 Things to Know About Sustainable Living (affiliate link) doesn’t just provide actionable steps one can take to cut their impact, but also helps dispel the myth that “green” has to equal “hard” (and “expensive”).

A volume in Turner Publishing’s Good Things to Know Series, 48 Things doesn’t pile on the theory and science behind green living. Rather, in concise chapters, it provides the reader with concrete actions s/he can take to feel a bit better about their relationship with the natural environment.

That doesn’t mean that this book isn’t thoughtful or thought-provoking, though. Klein (a writer I hired at Green Options a number of years ago) doesn’t just jump right into “tips,” but gives her reader some context for how to approach green living choices, and why they’re important. Ultimately, it comes down to needs vs. wants… and our consumer culture pushes the latter to the extreme. Klein helps her reader define these terms, and even provides some insight into her own struggle with the temptations constantly thrown at us. This personal element appears throughout the book, so when you’re reading, you know you’re engaged with a writer who’s been there… and understands the hurdles.

The “things” are the meat of the book, of course, and they range from the simple and practical (yep, change your light bulbs) to life’s major decisions (green career choices). No, not all these things are equal… they are, however, all areas into which sustainability can figure. Within each chapter, Klein constantly provides resources for her reader to explore as s/he finds the “things” that work best for his/her lifestyle.

Is Green Really Easy, Though?

The “easy steps” approach to sustainability has come under some fire within the green community: we all know that massive environmental challenges require major actions, and they won’t be cheap and easy. When we’re talking about policy (public or private), that’s appropriate; when we’re helping individuals make decisions, however, the “easy steps” approach (or, the “low-hanging fruit,” if you prefer) works well to get people seeing the connections between their current activities and practices, and the resources necessary to support a particular way of life. The framework is critical… and small steps can create that framework, and help green “newbs” apply that context to bigger challenges.

Beyond the information itself, Klein creates a supportive, almost nurturing voice that keeps the preachiness to a bare minimum. While you could read the book from cover-to-cover, it’s not necessary: the writer and editors made sure that chapter titles allow for easy “as needed” reference when you’re ready to take another step forward.

Want to give that friend or relative a “hand up” towards greener living without scaring them? Buy them a copy… at just under $10, it’s easy on you, also.


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