Ecoholic by Adria Vasil
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The "how to go green" book, Ecoholic by Adria Vasil, gives you a quick and dirty yes/no list for all green aspects of your life. But does it offer anything "new"?Don't expect this book to be expansive on any of the topics she covers, from jobs to sex to transport to cleaning, as she spends just a few sentences on each. Really, this is more of a jokey, friendly primer that would be an easy gift to give for someone who is interested in going green but doesn't know where to start. Think: shopaholic meets the green guru. You could just keep the book in your bag as a pocket guide for every time you enter a store, or keep it next to your computer and just purchase directly from the top sites she recommends.
Each of the topics covered, which are pretty wide-ranging, include just the basic, key toxic ingredient or two that make said product or category bad, thus helping you easily identify what to look out for. Vasil then includes points on what particularly makes mainstream products bad and how even natural products may not necessarily be good for you. At the end of each section, she basically bottom-lines it for the reader with the top two or three products/items in the category that are the best, healthiest option available (most often with money being no object). For example with beauty products, there are lots of complicated ingredients, so Vasil narrows down the most toxic ones and tells you which brands to flat out avoid.
In every category, there are breakout boxes that give 10 reasons to eat organic, for example, or 7 fish you should promise never to eat. Each of the topics are discussed in a flip, sassy manner and include interesting statistics and facts that the reader, even the seasoned Ecoholic, may not know about. For example, "90% of our exposure to the dangerous pollutant dioxin comes from our food, especially animal fats such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs" (90). Also, did you know that farm-raised salmon aren't pink, they're dyed that way to look like the wild ones and that feeding farm-raised fish involves more trawling of the ocean to find "fish food." Yuck. Still in need of a plastic shower curtain? Well, Ikea, Target and Kmart sell ones with PEVA instead of PVC (they don't have the chlorine and thus no dioxine). Know what the item with the best return rate for recycling is? The Kodak one-time use camera! Seems un-treehugger to have a single-use item, but those cameras are turned in and reused and recycled almost 100% of the time, not too shabby.
Ecoholic is a light, easy read, which would be easy for anyone to pick up and read cover to cover in no time. There are a few times when she takes her wit a little too far, like making fun of Nicole Richie, seemingly for no reason, which takes away from the book. Also, one of the first few pages of the book gave me pause, when the author stated "just do what you can, one step at a time, until you're a full-blown ecoholic." All I could think after reading this intro was "really? Are we really still saying that? Haven't we all finally admitted that we're up against some pretty tough odds and its going to take things like giving up driving and giving up consuming to really turn this ship around." The book itself covers just about every area of your daily life, so one can only assume she intends the readers to use this guide for multiple changes, not just one or two.
Though, if you or a friend need an eco-buying guide to converting your life over to the green side and cut through all the greenwash, then this is an excellent addition to any library. Note: our very own Lloyd reviewed the Canadian version in 2007, and this is her updated book with tips for anyone with a computer and access to the internet. Ecoholic can be found now online at Amazon.com or your check out your local library.
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