Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Do One Green Thing: A Review

I recently finished reading Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices by Mindy Pennybacker. This book is presented as a manual of sorts and broken into sections like Food & Drink, Personal Care, Transportation, etc. For each section, Pennybacker provides easy tips for ways to make your purchases and choices in each of these areas more sustainable (as well as the options you should avoid altogether as they are the most environmentally damaging). Some examples are which plastics are OK and ones to avoid, which labels actually mean something (for example, something labeled "all natural" means absolutely nothing), and the best fabric choices for you and the environment.
One of my biggest problems with this book is that most of the green option it discusses are the more expensive options that your average person can't afford. Sure, I wish I could wear only recycled organic cotton, but it is definitely not in my budget. Pennybacker doesn't do much encouraging of reducing or reusing. For example, in my opinion, not buying any clothes and simply wearing what you have would be the 'greenest' option. When you do need clothes, heading to resale shops or garage sales are more sustainable choices that even the greenest new fabric. So, while I do agree that we should support these green-minded companies whenever we do make a new purchase (if we can afford to do so), I also think that encouraging reducing our consumption and buying used goods are so much more important, and affordable for everyone. I also completely disagree with her on her statement about cloth versus disposable diapers. She claims that both have an equal impact on the environment as cloth requires washing while disposable fills up landfills. She completely ignores the fact that both take raw material and water to make and transport, however, with the cloth diaper they will be used many many times (and last through several children) so that the impact of their fabrication is MUCH less for the cloth. My son wore mostly cloth diapers (one disposable at night) and so his 30 or so diapers were the same from age 1 to 2.5. Those diapers were only made and transported once!
However, Pennybacker does give some  good tips, like how to make your own cleaning supplies (cheaply) from non-toxic ingredients, how to choose a sunblock, and ways to cut back on your personal water consumption. She gives lots of great factoids and comparisons (like how much carbon you emit flying cross country versus driving) and some great information and resources. This isn't a book that you would want to sit down and read cover-to-cover, but it would be a great one to have handy to consult when you make everyday decisions.
I do feel like this read was worthwhile, and I hope to share some of Pennybacker's tips with you in future posts. Pin It Now!

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