Sunday, January 3, 2010

Book Review - Sleeping Naked is Green by Vanessa Farquharson

Vanessa Farquharson is a movie critic for the Canadian newspaper National Post and doesn't care too much about the environment, until she sees "An Inconvenient Truth," and finally feels that she needs to do something. But what? She decides to take on a challenge of making one green change in her life every day for a year.

The book is divided into chapters by month and each month starts with a list of the changes she made each day. It starts out simply: Changing to recycled paper towels. But she soon starts to become desperate and shuts off her freezer, then her fridge. The order in which she makes her changes is... well, odd to say the least. For example, she turns off her fridge before putting a brick into her toilet tank. She gives up toilet paper before she gives up her vacuum. She also waits until day 198 to sign up for CSA.

She soon finds that being just a little green suddenly makes her want to be as green as possible. She wants to be the greenest in the green movement and often finds herself jealous and competitive of other environmentalists. At the same time she struggles with frustration over making certain changes and exhaustion from having to think new ones up. Some might be seen as a cop-out (writing only haiku poetry, signing up and then promptly taking down her profile on but you have to give her credit and cut her some slack, she's making 366 (leap year) changes.

She whines endlessly about how hard it is to be an environmentalist, but when it comes time for her challenge to end, she keeps almost all of her green changes. This book is just further proof that anyone who is educated about the changes they can make and why they should make them (not to mention how easy it can often be), will make them. And they will start to care about it too. It's easy to claim ignorance about the environment and do nothing, but once you do know, it's harder to forget. She even manages to green her family a little, even though they were adamantly against environmentalism at the start.

This book is inspiring. And funny. And down to earth. Plus it's a great read. It's good information for environmentalists or just people curious at where to start. The green movement is often seen as either too extreme or just not enough, but Farquharson struggles to find a middle ground. Reading this book made it more apparent to me just how easy it could be to step up my own greening. It's nice to see all of her changes in a list in each chapter, because although she doesn't talk about each one, you still know what kinds of changes she is making.

Because Farquharson is a journalist, her writing is interesting and engaging. She talks about the changes and why she made them, but also what the result is on her life as a a whole. Not to mention she's hilarious. The book isn't just a list of changes that you can make, it's a story about making a difference. At the end Farquharson isn't a preachy environmentalist. She sticks with her own changes, because she sees no point in going back. But there's no denying that the story is an inspiration to those who read it. It's a story about how little changes can make a big difference, not just to the Earth, but to your entire life.

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