Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thrifty Green by Priscilla Short

I was really excited about this book when I bought it. When I finished it, I was even MORE excited about it. So many little things that I can do to change the world. What I worry about with books like this is that they will be impractical. That they'll paint this overwhelming ideal of saving the world that is so over the top that it just completely shuts you down and you end up doing nothing but sobbing and worrying constantly because you are DESTROYING THE EARTH!!! But Ms. Short doesn't do that. Yes, she presents the extremes, but she says "let's meet in the middle somewhere." Priscilla was inspired to write this book after living off of the grid completely for one year in Taos, New Mexico. What I wouldn't give to live in Taos. I've never been but I have a coworker who goes at least once a year and it sounds gorgeous. She got rid of all modern conveniences. Well she had some, but learned that she couldn't use them as often. Her home's power came completely from solar energy. She didn't have a refrigerator...she used a cooler. And in doing that spent less money on food because she couldn't hoard it all. She collected all of her water for all of her needs in a tank that was filled with rain water. She used passive temperature control techniques like using the sun to heat her home. She decreased her garbage dramatically and found other uses for things due to no garbage pickup. These are just a few of a myriad of things that she did. And then she moved back to Colorado and back onto the grid a year later. But in doing so, she carried over a lot of her "green" habits and passed them on to us. What I love about this book is that it's not unrealistic. She's not trying to say that everyone should live completely off the grid, but instead talks about the benefits of it. The little ways we can make the world better, reduce our carbon footprint, form communities, be healthier...all through little choices that we make. It's also not preachy. Instead it educates with facts. Facts that are often big eye openers. I realized that there are a lot of things I can be doing that not only save the world, but save my life and save my wallet. There's a myth out there that living green is EXPENSIVE!! I can't do it because I can't afford organic food or to install solar panels, etc. etc. And that's fine! The truth is, living green is much cheaper. Reducing your energy consumption SAVES money. Growing your own food (if you can) saves tons of money and you can grow it without pesticides. And if you can't do that, there are plenty of other things you can do. Another excellent thing about this book is that it's a great guide for those thinking about moving off of the grid. She shows us what worked and what didn't work for her. What's realistic. One of the best things she said in this book was that we all have these material possessions that we feel are NECESSITIES. I'm not talking cell phones or alarm clocks, etc, but things like washing machines, refrigerators, electricity, plumbing, etc. We think we can't live without these things. And she's not saying to get rid of them all, but what she is saying is to reevaluate how you use them. She says that if it didn't exist 100 or 200 years ago, you don't ACTUALLY need it. People have survived for millenia on far less than what we have now. It's a good way to think. Here's just ONE example from each of the categories she talked about that shows what you can do to limit your consumption: Heat: Apply passive solar principles to your home, or find a new home (don't build one) An example of this would be opening the windows and blinds to allow the sun to naturally heat your home. Power and Light: Turn off your lights when not in use to enjoy natural light and darkness. Water: Do fewer loads of laundry and dishes by using clothes and dishes more than once before washing them. Food: Grow your own, whether that means herbs on a windowsill or full-scale crops in the backyard. Garbage: Stop buying packaged food. Transportation: Stay put. Slow down your life and enjoy being at home and all the places within walking distance. Stuff: Share big ticket items with a neighbor or friend: lawn mowers, tools, snow blowers or anything you use infrequently. These are ALL things that we can do very easily. We take for granted that we can just leave the lights on in every room whenever we want....when if we turn them off, we can enjoy nature AND save on electricity. Buying food in bulk instead of in packages saves us money...walking places that are close by instead of driving or biking there not only saves gas, but it makes us healthier too....who wants to do laundry and dishes every day? Stop :p And save money in the mean time. And in doing all of these things, we're saving the earth too. Oh, and she's a woman after our own hearts too. She says that we all have that one thing that we CAN'T give up...and that's fine. For her, it's books :) I really loved this book and was left with a lot of inspiration. Like I said...the tips I mentioned above don't even touch on everything she has to offer us. And there is a great list of resources in the back of the book if you want to continue your reading on the matter. Definitely a book that should be on every shelf!

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