Living Green is a practical guide to simple sustainability written by Greg Horn, who was the CEO of General Nutrition Centers (GNC). He wrote this book to help prove to Americans that there is a way to help the world become more sustainable, and it's not hard. We can make a change by making better decisions while performing our everyday tasks. This book is broken into three sections: Sustainable Health, Sustainable Home, and A Sustainable Future. Horn begins by explaining the "sick building syndrome" that he developed shortly after moving into a new office for work. This condition causes burning eyes and lungs, skin rash, loss of concentration, achy joints, and headaches. Come to find out, these were all symptoms caused from invisible gases that leak from new synthetic carpets, wall coverings, and most office furniture. With the experience of seeing how many harmful things we are exposed to first hand, Horn began his journey of leading a more sustainable life in all ways possible.
The message of this book is that we can choose where we live, what we eat, what we buy, and even what we think and believe. So why not make smart decisions, and help prepare our environment for the future? With the way our environment is suffering now, we cannot continue doing what we are doing. Sustainable development has been defined as, "the ability of humanity to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Horn informs us of several ways we can help do that in our everyday lifestyle. According to the book, the top ten sustainable steps to getting started are: 1) eating organic, 2) going carbon zero, 3) recycling, 4) denying disposables, 5) switching to natural personal care, 6) using natural lawn care, 7) cleaning green 8) filtering tap water, 9) increasing energy efficiency, and 10) staying informed. An important concept that the book makes known is the "ripple effect", meaning that if you get involved and make a difference, others will see your progress and want to get involved also. We are already seeing this with a lot of Americans who are trying to find ways to be "green". Buying organic food, eating low on the food chain, filtering our water, reducing sugar and soda are all ways that we can help ourselves while helping our environment at the same time. The average American eats nearly 160 pounds of sugars a year, 40 times more than Americans ate a century ago! No wonder we have such a bad problem with diabetes and obesity.
The book also tells 6 steps for sustainable personal care which include, choosing natural, organic-fiber clothing, not compromising with your children's clothing, finding a greener dry cleaner, buying safe personal care products, filtering your shower and bath water, and choosing natural feminine hygiene. The key point is that if you wouldn't eat it, don't put it on your skin. It is proven that sunscreens, lotions, etc. contain harmful ingredients for your skin.
Some ways that we can create sustainability in the home are by conserving more energy, recycling , cleaning green, furnishing for health, breathing easier, saying "no" to disposables, and greening the yard. We can do these things by sealing cracks in our houses, turning the thermostat down, turning off the lights when they're not in use, and conserving water. The book even goes into detail about what laundry detergents are safer than others. Other important tips are knowing the climate, weather patterns, and sun orientation. You should not use carpet to reduce dust and molds, be efficient with the layout of a new home, and think small and don't overbuild, while using sustainable materials. You should always incorporate ventilation into the design of a new home to reduce dust and mold, for energy efficiency and easier cooling.
The book closes with the section on a sustainable future. It stresses how important it is to live a greener lifestyle, so that we can leave a good environment for our children and generations to come. Some ways we can do this are by buying natural electricity, living closer to work, thinking globally, and buying locally. We should tune our cars and save gas by going hybrid. The book gives great examples for power alternatives.
In my opinion, this was a very educational book to read. I would recommend it to anyone who has a desire to help the earth become a safer, healthier environment. Greg Horn lists ways that Americans can help the environment in every aspect, from sustaining health from the inside and out, to healthy building tips and what kinds of light bulbs are energy efficient. Surely, if someone wanted to help the earth become more sustainable, they could perform a number of these helpful, simple tips and make a great difference in the world. Being a female, I especially enjoyed the section of the book about hair and skin products. I never realized the harmful ingredients in some of these products that I use every day, such as shampoos, antiperspirants, sunscreens, and hair dyes. I learned from reading about these that I will pay closer attention to ingredients on the labels from now on, and choose more wisely. My favorite point that Horn makes is about the ripple effect. I believe the most important part of this issue is not only practicing the green activities, but sharing what you know with others and informing them of the importance of being green and what it means to our future. The best part is that none of these tasks will break your budget, and the impact you make will be enormous.
Reviewer: Amanda Shaw