Wake Up and Smell the Planet, by the writers of grist.org, is another one of those environmental guide books that give you loads of quick tips on how to be a better environmental steward. The reason why I decided to read this one is because I heard it had a section on safely composting cat poop. And it did. About a paragraph long and not terribly helpful. I decided to read the whole thing, just to see what it had to see. Overall, I was frustrated with many of the answers, agreed with many others, and learned a few new things.
Some annoying "tips" include forgoing ziplocs to instead wrap your sandwich/snacks in waxed paper or a disposable napkin. Umm, how about a reusable cloth bag or a cloth napkin or re-purposed plastic bag? Encouraging folks to use disposable items seems a little UN-environmental. It also encourages using a microwave to save energy. How about the fact that it is not safe to microwave breast milk ( or any other items that contains dairy or meat) as it will change the genetic structure. No thanks. It also gives a thumbs up to both McDonals'd for the pro-environment options they offer (like offering organic coffee at some locations). How about all of the other very eco-UN-friendly choices they offer as well? GMO corn, feedlot cattle, and non-local foods just to name a few. And happily accepting to-go in styrofoam containers, but just bringing yoru own metal silverware to make up for it. Umm, what? This book also encourage on-line shopping instead of shopping at the mall in order to reduce one's carbon footprint. How about NOT shopping? Or shopping less? Or buying used?
But, there were some interesting (and useful) points in here as well. Like taking a train instead of flying to drastically reduce the footprint of your travel. using vinegar during the wash cycle instead of putting dryer sheets or fabric softner in (both of which are carcinogenic). And the fact that some Goodwills will take unwearable clothing to be shredded, baled and re-purposed. Cool!
So should you read this book? The writing style was pretty humorous and it was mostly entertaining, but for me I found myself getting frustrated at the lack of environmentalism in this environmental book. Seriously. I like that it isn't trying to get anyone to be an uber-eco-freak, and is focused on more realistic goals, but I think people can do a little better than driving through McDonald's for their eco-friendly (not) meal. I actually found myself talking back at this book on more than one occasion, which maybe says something about me as well, but I felt like these were mainly eco-tips for very un-eco people, which clearly does not include any of you.
So, I would take or leave this one. I have never spent much time on Grist's website and am now curious to know if their website is of better quality than the tip book they published.
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