Going green in 2009

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJanuary 3, 2009 

"The Salvage Studio",/b>

By Amy Duncan, Beth Evans-Ramos and Lisa Hilderbrand

200 pages

"David Suzuki's Green Guide"

By David Suzuki and David R. Boyd

192 pages

Have you resolved to live more virtuously in the new year? A couple of new books will help to keep that zeal alive. These are volumes that promote sustainability and elevate the reduce-reuse-recycle mantra to new heights - follow their advice and you'll be as green as Kermit in no time!

"The Salvage Studio" is a book by a trio of women who have a business of the same name in Edmonds. Artist Amy Duncan, garden stylist Beth Evans Ramos and landscape designer Lisa Hilderbrand transform other people's junk into useful items and decorative objects for the home and garden.

This lifestyle book, complemented with gorgeous photography by Seattle-based Kate Baldwin, provides ideas for recycling everything from old sewing machine bobbins to garden rakes and thrift store bedspreads. The authors start by advising you to assemble a junker's kit to keep in the trunk of your car so that you'll be prepared to take advantage of any salvaging opportunity should you drive by a garage sale, thrift store, or church rummage sale.

They also give directions for several projects. While ideas like the golf club trellis left me cold, I didn't miss the ladies' larger point, which is to look at old things in new ways. By rescuing items from their premature appointment with the landfill, and employing some imagination, the Salvage Studio crew is helping to lessen waste. Their book encourages all of us to think along similar lines.

But it is "David Suzuki's Green Guide" that provides solid advice for greening up in almost all aspects of our lives. The well-known Vancouver scientist and author has teamed up with David R. Boyd, an environmental lawyer in British Columbia, to present this wonderfully proactive manual.

The authors begin by presenting convincing and devastating evidence concerning the "ecological footprint" made by North Americans. Suzuki and Boyd compute that there are only about ten productive acres to sustain each of the six and a half billion persons on the planet. The average United States lifestyle, however, demands more than five times that amount.

Clearly, sustainability is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently, but is it even possible (much less desirable) to reduce our resource demands by 75 percent?

With cheerful purposefulness, the authors contend that it is. And chapter by chapter, topic by topic, they present a methodical approach to lessening our environmental impact.

Because 80 percent of our current consumption is related to household activities (heating, lighting, etc.), the food we eat, and the way we travel, a chapter is devoted to each of these topics and the green choices that are available.

Allaying the fear that reconfiguring our current consumption patterns will mean sacrificing the lifestyle we have grown accustomed to, the authors point out that many of the changes they advocate will actually lead to longer, healthier lives and save us money. "David Suzuki's Green Guide" is a great way to start off the new year.

I highly recommend it.

The Bookmonger is Barbara Lloyd McMichael, who writes this weekly column focusing on the books, authors and publishers of the Pacific Northwest. Contact her at bkmonger@nwlink.com

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