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Going Green: Book Review 07/12/11

Going Green: the Greenest Read You’ll Ever Need. By Clare Martens.

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I have been meaning to recommend this book for ages. Going Green: 365 Ways to Change Our World ended up on the bookshelf one Christmas; dismissed intentionally because, in a family of environmentalists, another book about being green is bound to be old news. But, I got to reading it one day and loved how original and funny it is. It really speaks to South Africans, no matter how green you already think you are.

Simon Gear, a weatherman by trade, and eco-warrior by life, turns out to have other hidden talents. His writing is humourous, throwing in the odd quirky anecdote or funny idea now and then, just to keep this “green thing” entertaining. And that is what makes this book so good; it is not ponderous, limiting or patronising. He accepts that not everyone is perfect and that we don’t all have the money and time to be really good at being environmentalists. Instead, he offers various interesting and unusual ideas which really make sense, no matter how small the outcome.

I am sure not every suggestion he gives is backed up by hard evidence, but he does seem to know a good deal about what works and what doesn’t. He covers many aspects of life – from your garden and home, to the way you travel and what you eat. His suggestions are some of the same-old same-old, but he also offers others which make you want to get up and do them. Like his suggestion to “get to know your garden”. He has some very eccentric ideas too, but they get the point across. He suggests minimising lawn space, keeping bantam chickens, meditating (which includes hot baths and long walks) and learning how to make a salad taste good.

I particularly liked his section on what you can do in your office to make it more green. He suggests adding a quiet room, installing a shower and greening your printer. Don’t forget, the benefits are spread among all your colleagues. I also liked the ideas he puts across which are only environmentally-orientated at a push, but good for humankind nonetheless. For example, he suggests donating your organs, donating old books, buying simple and inexpensive Christmas presents and donating money to charity instead of sending flowers. I really like his suggestion to “do less”, but do it well.

If you want a wide range of very practical, very unpredictable and very exciting ideas for going green, I suggest you read this book. I can promise you that if you follow only a fraction of his suggestions, which is very easy to do, you will feel better right away! Perhaps slip it onto your boss’s desk and see if you get that shower installed. You will soon be cycling to work.

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