carbon footprint http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7624/all en-US Book review: Farewell, My Subaru http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-farewell-my-subaru <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/book-review-farewell-my-subaru" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/farewell-my-subaru-cover.jpg" alt="Cover of Farewell, My Subaru" title="Cover of Farewell, My Subaru" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="376" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400066441?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1400066441"><cite>Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living</cite></a> by Doug Fine.</p> <p>There are a number of books now by people who set out to live a more local, more sustainable life, and wrote a book to document their experiences. Most of them approach the problem with the perspective that living a lower-carbon lifestyle is going to entail giving up some of the things that modern Americans have come to expect. Doug Fine, though, would rather not. Especially not ice cream.</p> <p>There's a fundamental trade-off that you can't really escape. All that carbon gets released producing energy, so if you want to release less carbon, you've got two options: You can make do with less energy or you can find a way to get the energy without burning carbon. The first option requires sacrifice; the second typically requires either doing large amounts of hard work or else spending large amounts of money. Unlike some of the other authors of recent books on low-impact living, Fine is inclined toward the second option--going to great effort and spending large amounts of money to get his modern American lifestyle with less carbon burned.</p> <p>The book is basically a series of funny stories of Fine's first year or so trying to live more sustainably on forty-one acres of rural New Mexico. The humor is largely of the self-depricating sort--Fine bumbles about making beginner mistakes, but through a combination of perseverance, help from friends and neighbors, a modest amount of good luck, a lot of hard work, and the expenditure of a whopping amount of money, manages to set himself up to be successful.</p> <p>The book actually ends before we see a lot of pay-off from the hard work. It would have been nice to hear about the ice cream that he was going to make from his goats milk. But that doesn't make the funny stories about his hard work any less funny.</p> <p>There are two things this book isn't.</p> <p>First, it isn't out to convince you that living a low-carbon lifestyle is the right choice. The audience for this book is largely people who have already decided that--but are daunted at the prospect of the changes involved in living in accordance with their values. (People who don't think low-carbon living is necessary to save the biosphere could possibly be amused to watch Fine go to all this trouble for no good reason that they can see, but I doubt if they'd really be interested.)</p> <p>Second, it most definitely isn't a how-to manual. Although the author talks about raising goats and chickens, and installing a solar-powered pump and a solar hot-water heater, and getting his truck converted to run on used cooking oil, he just tells the funny stories of his mishaps. It may give you some ideas and it may make certain choices seem more (or less!) reasonable, but this is not the book that's going to tell you how to do any of those things yourself.</p> <p>Probably the best thing about the book is the way it provides a worked example that doesn't seem too daunting. Instead of trying to achieve sustainability through the sort of extreme simple living that amounts to a repudiation of the modern American lifestyle, Fine tries to achieve it through a large investment of time, effort, and money. Where the other books leave you thinking that their writers are capable of superhuman feats of self-deprivation (admittedly alleviated by the opportunity to eat lots of great, local food), Fine's book gives you nice crisp stories that emphasize his foibles and leave you with a sense of &quot;If this clown can do it, I can certainly do it.&quot;</p> <p>Sometimes his tone bugged me. One example was in talking about trying to go hunting. His other stories sounded like the efforts of someone trying (and eventually succeeding) in some endeavor despite a certain amount of ineptitude--which make them fun to read. The story of his hunting endeavors, though, ends in failure. His ineptness is great enough in this case that it seems almost willful. That, combined with giving up right away, makes it less interesting to read about than the endeavors where he perseveres. That's a minor complaint, though.</p> <p>If you're interested in living a lower-carbon lifestyle, but you're not quite ready to make the leap yourself, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400066441?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1400066441"><em>Farewell, My Subaru</em></a> packs a nice mix of inspirational and cautionary tales into one funny little book. I enjoyed it a lot.<br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-farewell-my-subaru">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-game-over">Book review: Game Over</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-in-defense-of-food">Book review: In Defense of Food</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-happier">Book review: Happier</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-your-money-or-your-life">Book review: Your Money or Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-wabi-sabi-simple">Book review: Wabi Sabi Simple</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living book review books carbon emission carbon footprint gardening goats ice cream review sustainability sustainable living Mon, 22 Dec 2008 20:39:42 +0000 Philip Brewer 2668 at http://www.wisebread.com A year without toilet paper - The Interview http://www.wisebread.com/a-year-without-toilet-paper-the-interview <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/a-year-without-toilet-paper-the-interview" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/noimpact.jpg" alt="no impact " title="no impact" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="200" height="135" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You wouldn&#39;t necessarily know it from watching him on his appearance on <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/energy/2007/04/10/stephen-colbert-vs-no-impact-man/">The Colbert Report</a>. He comes across as a soft-spoken, good-natured guy, for sure. But he must have a very impenetrable hide to still be blogging after being on the receiving end of the recent <a href="http://gawker.com/news/green-freaks/no-impact-man-is-amazingly-still-married-284524.php">Gawker snarkfest</a> about his family&#39;s infamous experiment, a year of extremely low-impact living in Manhattan. </p> <p>This enviro-aesetic lifefstyle includes giving up toilet paper, consuming only food that has been grown within a 250-mile radius, avoiding all carbon-producing forms of transportation, no air conditioning (in New York! in the summer!), and buying nothing new.</p> <p>I wrote a rather <a href="/life-without-toiletpaper-bum-deal">critical blog post</a> about Beavan&#39;s adventure last March, after reading about his family&#39;s exploits (can you use that term when talking about someone who DOESN&#39;T exploit stuff?) in the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/22/garden/22impact.html?pagewanted=1&amp;ei=5088&amp;en=e775250d1fe1ae13&amp;ex=1332216000">New York Times</a>. If you had asked me then, I would have said that Beavan&#39;s experiment was all a publicity stunt, and that the extreme conditions that he and his family were subjecting themselves to were really overkill. In fact, I did say something along those lines, but with more sarcasm. Many other people responded in a similar fashion.</p> <p>Months later, after having written a few blog posts of my own that caused people to freak out (&quot;How DARE you criticize <a href="/baby-carrots-the-frugal-idea-that-isnt">baby carrots</a>?! Do you want us ALL to be obese?&quot;) because their lifestyle choices were being challenged, and nobody likes that. In addition, I&#39;ve learned about the dangers of plastics, both to our <a href="/is-plastic-killing-us-the-true-cost-of-convenience">bodily health</a> and to the environment at large. My stance towards Beavan&#39;s experiment softened considerably. </p> <p>For one thing, it&#39;s really hard to pick on someone who is just trying something, while sharing the experience with the world. Anyone who talks to Beavan, or reads his blog, <a href="http://noimpactman.typepad.com/blog/">No Impact Man</a>, can tell that he&#39;s not the type of guy to foist his ideas on anyone. He&#39;s just an environmentally-conscious guy who got sick of talking the talk, and decided to walk the walk. Plus, he&#39;s got a sense of humor about the whole thing.</p> <p>I recently asked Beavan, whose blog is also a part of the <a href="http://liferemix.net/">Life Remix Network</a>, to answer a few questions about how is experiment is progressing, and how he feels about the furor surrounding his attempt to decrease his impact on our planet.</p> <p>--------------</p> <p><strong>What has been the overall response been to your experiment? The internet can be a vicious place, and I&#39;m sure you&#39;ve received a fair share of malicious criticism. But your own site seems to have many supportive readers. Do you find that the reaction is about 50/50?</strong></p> <p>What you can&#39;t see is the emails I get. I&#39;ve become so used to getting supportive email that it is quite a shock when something critical comes in. People come to the blog, I think, because they sense for themselves that there may be a way to live that is not so frantic and consumption-based that can both be kinder to the planet and make us happier.</p> <p><strong>How do you deal with some of the attacks leveled at your family? Is it difficult to balance sharing your life and protecting your own emotions?</strong></p> <p>By concentrating on the huge level of support and on my mission with this project, which is to allow people to examine the lessons I&#39;m learning this year as one method to make more positive choices for themselves. My style is not for everyone, though, and that&#39;s okay.</p> <p><strong>I imagine it&#39;s nice to avoid having to buy lead-painted toys from China for a while. Do you find it easier to raise a child in your apartment now than it was before? Are there challenges with the experiment specifically related to child-rearing?</strong></p> <p>With no TV or electricity or video games, this experiment has meant that Isabella gets so much more of our attention than she might have otherwise. We play, we ride around on our bikes, we go to the park, we splash in the fountain. This is the biggest gift of the project.</p> <p><strong>Has this endeavour helped you to save money, or is it more costly in the end? Fluorescent light bulbs, for instance, are quite expensive.</strong></p> <p>CFLs, over their lifetime, work out cheaper, thanks to electricity savings (though of course we don&#39;t use electricity right now). Our grocery bill is higher, but our restaurant bill is lower. We don&#39;t fly or drive. We&#39;re saving money and eating better and getting more exercise and feeling healthier and sleeping more.</p> <p><strong>When your year is up, do you think that you will continue to practice any parts of this experiment? Are there any aspects of this lifestyle that are more difficult than others?</strong></p> <p>Which bit shall I give up? Spending time with Isabella or eating better? Just joking, but honestly, much of what we&#39;ve changed we&#39;ll keep. But probably not all. Still, that&#39;s all hypothetical. We&#39;re not there yet.</p> <p><strong>Do you feel like this lifestyle is made easier due to your work-at-home status? Could a family with two parents who work outside the home, making a net income of $60K, engage in the same kind of practices?</strong></p> <p>I&#39;m not hoping to make everyone live like me. I&#39;m just hoping people might feel encouraged about the possibility of finding their own suitable options that might both be better for the planet and make them happier.</p> <p><strong>Many people have questioned your motives in this experiment, suggesting that you&#39;re only doing it to sell books. Also, there&#39;s been a bit of snarking in the blogosphere that your book is going to &quot;kill millions of trees&quot;. How to you respond to those attacks? Is there any validity in them?</strong></p> <p>There might be easier ways to sell books! The good news, for me, is that <a href="http://www.fsgbooks.com/">FSG</a> plans to publish my book by the most sustainable method they can find. I&#39;m happy about that. Every time a book like mine gets published in a sustainable way helps smooth the way for the publishing industry to eventually publish all books sustainably.</p> <p><strong>How do you apply the no-impact lifestyle to your dog? What do you feed her, and how difficult is it to clean up after her without using SOMETHING plastic?</strong></p> <p>I pick up her poop with found plastic bags. </p> <p><strong>Overall, are you enjoying your new lifestyle? Are there some aspects to it that you just can&#39;t WAIT to finish up? </strong></p> <p>Although the experiment will be officially over in November, the investigation may never end. It&#39;s fascinating and satisfying to take the life you&#39;ve inherited from your past and your culture, to question the underlying assumptions, and see how you put it back together when you choose deliberately.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-year-without-toilet-paper-the-interview">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-reasons-to-compost">10 Frugal Reasons to Compost</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-helpful-and-weird-uses-for-hair-and-excess-pet-fur">9 Helpful (and Weird) Uses for Hair and Excess Pet Fur</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-spare-a-square-5-quick-tips-on-toilet-paper-usage">&quot;Can you spare a square?&quot; 5 quick tips on toilet paper usage.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-own-mulch-a-beginners-guide-for-the-lazy-composter">How to Make Your Own Mulch: A Beginner&#039;s Guide for the Lazy Composter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/urban-composting-it-can-be-done">Urban Composting - It CAN be done!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living carbon footprint CFL Colin Beaven compost environmentally friendly Gawker low impact no impact man pets toilet paper Thu, 16 Aug 2007 23:16:09 +0000 Andrea Karim 1011 at http://www.wisebread.com