I bought this book based on recommendations from Amazon readers of Clean House, Clean Planet, which I was interested in picking up. They said that botI bought this book based on recommendations from Amazon readers of Clean House, Clean Planet, which I was interested in picking up. They said that both books were great, but that Better Basics for the Home was more all-inclusive, with recipes for not just cleaning compounds, but also personal care products, paints, insect repellents and traps, chemical-free gardening tips, etc. I've been slow to incorporate many of the books suggestions into my routines, but have been referring to it a lot and looking for (and finding) ways to cut out damaging chemicals here and there. It's a really great reference....more
It was exciting to hear how much is being done already in terms of renewable energy, with lots more in the building or planning phases. The author calIt was exciting to hear how much is being done already in terms of renewable energy, with lots more in the building or planning phases. The author calls for a an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 (not very far away), but makes it sound like a very reachable goal. We have the technology, we just have to have the political will (particularly here in the U.S., which lags way behind the rest of the developed world) to make it happen. In the "what you and I can do" section at the end of the book, I was surprised that the author didn't say things like "buy EnergyStar appliances and a hybrid vehicle" (although he did say things like this in the course of the book), but instead left off with a take-home message of "keep writing to your congressmen and senators--even meet with them in person if possible--for as long as it takes for them to get the message that we have to do this now." The earth's ecological systems are on the point of collapse and won't wait, and while individual purchasing decisions do make a difference, what the only way to really avert the end of civilization as we know it is to change public policies and start investing in and subsidizing renewable energy instead of fossil fuels....more
This book talks about how our current manufacturing systems allow for very little recycling (did you know that the aluminum and steel cans that you thThis book talks about how our current manufacturing systems allow for very little recycling (did you know that the aluminum and steel cans that you throw in your recycle bin can't be turned into new aluminum and steel cans because the tops of the cans are made from different alloys than the cylindrical part?) and how these systems could be tweaked to allow for true recycling rather just down-cycling (those cans in your recycle bin get downgraded to low-quality metal that's not nearly as useful as the original stuff). There's also a lot of discussion about how to create buildings that are healthy and enjoyable places to be, while also minimizing the amount of outside energy needed to make them function well....more
This book outlines one of the most important messages for Americans to hear: if we keep building in the way that we have for the past half-century (suThis book outlines one of the most important messages for Americans to hear: if we keep building in the way that we have for the past half-century (subdivisions with no sidewalks because there's nothing to walk to, stores plunked down in the middle of highways and vast parking lots, offices set nowhere in particular and devoid of all human activity after 5pm), we shouldn't be surprised by things like increased rates of depression and anxiety, teen suicides and school shootings, voter apathy. There is a better way--the way that cities and towns have been built throughout history until the mid-20th century: a network of connecting streets (rather than individual collector roads with attached cul-de-sacs) lined with shops that have apartments and offices above form the downtown, whith houses of varying sizes lining the streets around, becoming less dense as you move away from the city center. It's a model that gives people chances to interact with a cross-section of thier community in ways that are simply not possible in suburbia. While zoning laws are changing in some places, in a lot of places it's illegal to build traditional communities because of single-use zoning rules that don't allow for shops and aparments to be on the same block, let alone in the same building. Until we, as a society, demand changes in the way we build our communities, most of us will continue to be slaves to our automobiles and more isolated than we'd like to be.
While the book's title focuses on the negative aspect of suburban growth, the book's real focus is to outline how to create traditional neighborhoods. It was an enjoyable read, and is also very skimmable for those who aren't prepared to read it cover-to-cover. I highly recommend checking it out....more