Thursday, 17 December 2009

The Green Living Guide

I was offered a review copy of the second edition of the "Green Living Guide", edited by Hugh Bowring.

Now that we are gradually realising that the "make do and mend" culture of grandparents and parents was progressive in terms of saving money and not wasting the planet's resources, a book like this is welcome. It's an opportunity to relearn some useful skills, approaches and way of thinking.

The book has been organised into 6 sections, Home and Garden, Family & Children, Food & Drink, Work & Office, Transport & Motoring, and Fashion & Beauty. This works quite well, as it is definitely a reference book that you might dip into now and again for useful advice, be it when thinking about tackling the rising energy costs and finding tips to save energy, what to think about before you buy at the supermarket or on the high street, greening your office, and causing less harm when you need to travel.

As a quick way in to some of the issues relating to sustainable living, this is a good buy. Some useful research has gone into this and the book is full of web links if you want to find out more.

If I'm being picky, there were 2 areas I disagree with.

The section on Food and Drink pushes us towards buying local as the more sustainable option on the basis that there tends to be fewer food miles involved and certainly not air freight. I don't think that this big issue is really that simple, as shown by the facts in the excellent recent report by Oxfam "Fair Miles: Recharting the food miles map", with much of the imported food from Africa coming by sea with a very low carbon footprint and local tomatoes in December would mean high energy costs and carbon emissions from heated greenhouses. In fairness, there is an excellent calendar that helps us remember seasonality to help us know when and what food to buy locally.

On a more minor point, based on personal experience of the product, the appliance section suggests you buy a Kenwood energy saving kettle at nearly £45. Whatever you do, don't but this kettle, as it is terrible! The lid breaks and if you live in a hard water area like me, despite regular descaling, it leaks. This ended up being disposed as WEEE waste at my local dump and I bought a Phillips one instead. Not the most sustainable outcome so don't make my mistake.

Overall, at £7.99 this is well worth buying as an interesting and useful guide to how to save money in these tricky times and cause less harm to people and the planet. Could be a good stocking filler?

It is available from Magbooks, WH Smith and online at Amazon.
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