September 5, 2009

True Green Home: 100 Inspirational Ideas for Creating a Green Environment at Home by Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin

BOOK #: 70
REASONS READ: Colorful Reading Challenge
PUBLISHER: National Geographic
GENRE: Nonfiction, House & Home, Green Living
RATING: 4 out of 5

BOOK BLURB THAT SUMS IT UP: "This book is the cheat sheet you're looking for."
WHAT I THOUGHT: This book has a lot of tips that are simply common sense reminders (turn off the water while you brush your teeth). Some tips take that common sense and build upon the idea ('disposable' pens are not disposable). Then there are some tips that I would probably never have thought of on my own.

Have you, for instance, considered your home's footprint for future generations?

Do you know what "green noise" is? How about "green washing"? Be careful you could get swindled.

The authors say that "Times are changing: green is definitely the new black when it comes to marketing homes: 'smart houses', 'green homes', and 'sustainable lifestyle communities' are popping up everywhere."

WHAT I LEARNED: I want to share with you 8 things I learned while reading this book. That is 8% of the tips shared in this book. So if you like these, you might find you like the others as well. (Just look out for the 8% of the tips common sense has already told you, or at least should have.)

1. Face Up To It. The golden rule of real estate also applies to creating an eco-friendly home. Think about the direction your house is facing. Is it making the best use of the natural light? Are you getting sunrise in the bedrooms or noon day sun? Are you able to grill out in the sunset or are you turning on outdoor lamps because the sun is now blocked by the house?

2. Your Biggest Contribution. Water heating is the 3rd largest domestic energy expense on your utility bill. By replacing your old electric hot water system with more energy-efficient options, you can make your single biggest contribution to the environment.

3. Gray Water. Gray water is all non-toilet household waste water from baths, sinks, and washing machines. You can recycle all gray water for non-potable (non-drinking) purposes with a readily available gray water recycling system.

4. Ovens. Over 50% of the energy used by the oven is wasted. Consider alternatives like the microwave, electric frying pan, or a pressure cooker. Also there are tips on how to use your oven more efficiently.

5. Boiling Water. For every 10 cups of water boiled off, half a pound of CO2 is generated. Half a pound! Just putting lids on saucepans and simmering food gently rather than boiling vigorously can make a big impact.

6. The Bed. Make a switch to organic sheet sets. Conventional cotton is a water- and pesticide-intensive crop with significant environmental impacts throughout production, manufacturing, and processing.

7. E-Billing Saves More Than You Think. Research has shown that by switching to e-bills, online statements, and online payments, the average household can save 6.6 pounds of paper, avoid use of 4.5 gallons of gas, and prevent production of 171 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions every year. The USPS won't like it, but the Earth will.

8. Don't Get Washed Up. "Green washing" refers to the tendency of companies in the building or construction industry to falsely market themselves as green or exaggerate their green attributes. Do your research and ask your design professional before committing to a "green" company that may not be the real deal.

Other Reviews of This Book:

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  1. I just *knew* all along I was a environmentally good person, which is of course the reason I microwave these days more than bake. Well at least NOW it is the reason!

    Thanks for the tips!!!

  2. Those sound like great tips! We have a gas water heater - I wonder if that's more efficient than electric.

  3. Green is definitely the new "trendy" and so much is labeled green or natural, when it is simply not. In the drugstore the other day I was lured by a "green" label for a aromatic sticks, all "natural" made in China and all chemicals ingredients listed??? I guess it was natural because it used the color green in it's packaging paper! I didn't purchase it but someone not willing to read the pkg. notes might have.

  4. Tips that seem like common sense are not always so. I am from CA so I grew up with a lot of the "Don't waste Water" campaigns. When I moved to MN for school, some of the students in mydorm hadnever even thought of turning off the waterwhilethey brushed their teeth.

    I think I want to read this book, now. Like manyothers Ihav recently begun to give more thought to my own wastefulness, both active and passive. Thanks for spotlighting this book.

  5. I liked the tips that you listed. I've always incorporated a lot of this into my life anyway....but the book does look interesting!

  6. I always wanted to live in one of the "earth ships" that are made out of recycled materials and collect rainwater and have solar panels. There are a bunch of them near Taos, but you can't see them because they're partially underground. Like little hobbit houses.

    Natalie: I live in CO and had to watch a video in kindergarten about how not to waste water! (Which included not letting water run when you're brushing your teeth.)

  7. Sounds like a good one! I enjoy green books very much, and this one reminds me a bit of Green, Greener, Greenest that I read a while back.


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