A Novel World’s Guide to Green – Book reviews & More!

Having made significant progress in my journey to healthy eating, it seems that my mentality towards food is beginning to seep into other areas of my life. Namely, how I personally effect the environment. If I’m going to be green with my food, then why not be green at home, at work, in the car, on the road, basically…everywhere?

Going green seems to be such an overwhelming thing, particularly when you see the ridiculous number and volume of books, articles, documentaries, etc., about people going to the full extreme to either drop off the radar, or stop the sins of consumerism. I’m not looking for that. I love the San Francisco hippie/ hipster reputation as tree-huggers, but believe me, I love my luxuries of hot showers just as much, if not more. How can one live a sustainable and eco-friendly life in the city? My best friend keeps chickens in her backyard in Portland. Alas, I have no yard, front or back. My husband maintains the upkeep of his container garden on our apartment balcony, because I have a penchant for killing all living flora with my black thumb.

What do I do then, since homesteading is out of the question? I can’t do as much as I want to, but I hope that what I do actually is making a difference.

  • I use reusable cloth bags for all my shopping trips. Or I throw small items into my purse.
  • I don’t bag produce items. I don’t want plastic grocery bags, why would I want these? Most items don’t need to be bagged anyways.
  • I use a glass water bottle that I picked up from Starbucks (although they are starting to pop-up in other stores now). No plastic, no pollutants.
  • I use a Zorjirushi Tuff Mug thermos for my coffee. It was a present from one of my best friends, and it is seriously the best gift I have gotten. It keeps coffee warm for HOURS, and you don’t feel the heat holding the thermos.
  • Bikes! Well, I just picked up my bike last night, so I haven’t done much with it yet, but I plan to.
  • I take public transportation to work 3x a week, and I hope to take it more often. I’d rather have my money go to local city services than oil companies.
  • I’ve cut back on meat, which has really just saved me $$ on the grocery budget. I’m not sure how it is effecting meat production, but I can sleep easy knowing a baby moo, a baby oink, and a baby chick haven’t died because of me.
  • I’ve unplugged everything in my apartment. I run around turning off unnecessary lights at work too.
  • Print & make copies on both sides of a paper. Reuse paper as makeshift notepads.
  • I use bar soap instead of body washes.
  • Use cotton dishcloths instead of sponges for washing dishes, use rags instead of paper towels to clean up spills and messes.
  • I try to avoid using cleaning supplies as much as possible, and make my own whenever necessary.
  • Donate, donate, donate. All my friends know that I’m a bit of a Goodwill nut, and will usually donate a couple of bags every month or so.
  • Recycling. I’m big on recycling whatever I can, but recently it clicked that unless I actually buy goods made of recycled products, then I’m not really doing anything beneficial. I’ve been trying to find products that are made from recycled goods, and it’s actually a pretty touch search. =/

Keep reading! There’s more!

Mini Book Reviews

I have found a few book versions of Michael Pollan’s Food Rules. These green guide rules are a great way to make the most minor of changes to your life, but still help the environment, and make a huge difference, much like what I listed above. They go beyond simply changing the lightbulb, or ditching plastic water bottles. I’ve already started implementing and understanding why I should implement many of their tips. 

1. Its Easy Being Green by Crissy Trask

It's easy being green : a handbook for earth-friendly livingIncludes a detailed checklist of activities and habits to alter to live a more green lifestyle. Much of it actually applied to my situation (late 20’s in an urban city, working 30+ hours a week). Most books in this topic seem to be written for stay-at-home adults, or people with huge acres of land to do a lot of homesteading. This book actually provides useful tips for those of us who don’t own a home, and don’t have all the free time in the world to make jars of jam.

My only complaint is the font is super tiny which made it hard to read, as the book is also small in size. Larger font would have been helpful, as would have clearer separations between topics in the checklist.


2. The Green Book by Elizabeth Rogers

The green book : the everyday guide to saving the planet one simple step at a timeThis book is much better than Its Easy Being Green. The book is roughly the same size, but the font is much larger, and the tips are organized in a way that easier to read, and easier to refer back to. The advice in this book covers more topics and the ideas are very easy to implement without too much strain or going out of one’s comfort zone. There are also inserted messages written by contemporary celebrities describing how green and eco-conscious they are. Although I have my doubts about Dale Earnhardt’s message about the goodwill of Anhueser-Busch (they do sponsor him on the race-track, so I feel like this was just a shameless plug on his end). I also have a bias against that company for other reasons.

The downside to this title, is that the resources pages aren’t as detailed as Its Easy Being Green.

3. Green Chic by Christie Matheson

Green chicThis book has all of the same information as the above two books, but is written for the fashionable dames of the world. Matheson’s writing is personable, funny, and she is easy to relate too (she loves her hot showers too!). I’d start by reading her book as an introduction to green living. Her book is broken down into easy to follow chapters, with well explained tips and extra bonus advice sprinkled throughout. There is also a good set of resources at the back of the book.

Of the three books reviewed here, Green Chic is my favorite for its writing, but The Green Book has the best advice.

Other books of note

Movies to view

  • Forks Over Knives (documentary about eating raw & whole foods)
  • Bag It (documentary about how invasive plastic is in our lives, and the dangerous chemicals and toxins that effect our health)
  • The No Impact Man (About a man in New York who tries to go a year without creating any trash, etc.) This one is also a book.
  • Botany of Desire (A Michael Pollan documentary about 4 famous foods, and their history. It’ll make you want to eat healthy…or at least want to eat food that is real food.)


  • Ecovian – A website similar to Yelp, but for green businesses. Its a great resource, I’ve linked to the San Francisco results as an example.
  • Pharmaca – A European style pharmacy, it sells eco-friendly products, recycled goods (I found recycled trash bags!), and baby products, snacks, etc. 
  • www.simplyscratch.com – Easy recipes to make from scratch, baked goods, dinners, lunches, snacks…anything you could want.
  • http://frugallysustainable.blogspot.com – Eco friendly advice on everything from meals, homeopathic remedies, to eco-news and green crafts. This blogger has the best resources, and puts together links for the best resources online.

Dewey Decimal Numbers & Library Subject Headings to look for at your local library:

  • 304.2 (green movement)
  • 333.7 (living green as a society)
  • 338.9 (green economy)
  • 640 (home & body green living)
  • Environmental protection – citizen participation
  • Environmentalism
  • Organic living
  • Environmental responsibility
  • Sustainable living

These are a few of my favorite resources, but I’d love to hear about your go-to websites and books on this subject. 

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