So, let me just state for the record here that I'm an electrician (a solar electrician), not a writer. So when my husband, Stephen, and I embarked on our book tour for The Carbon-Free Home
this summer, I had no idea what to expect.
We are taking the train around the country, stopping in about 20 different cities, and speaking at a variety of locations: green building stores, energy fairs, and of course, independent book stores.
We are about halfway through our trip, and it has been eye opening, to say the least.
Attendance at our talks has ranged from zero (yes, zero!!) to about 125 people. And I surely can't say why 75 people show up in the middle of the day at the public library in Omaha, Nebraska, while not a lone soul stops by our table in a hoppin' natural food store on a rainy Saturday in Flagstaff, Arizona (except for our friend Kevin's parents, who drove all the way from Phoenix).
But I've got some theories for the low turnout events. I know for certain Stephen and I are wonderful and inspiring public speakers, so low turnout surely can't be blamed on us! The most prominent of my theories is green fatigue.
You've probably heard of greenwashing (the thin false veil of sustainability corporations will throw over their operations and marketing materials), but from what I've seen, green fatigue is the natural next step. To wit: my new favorite hobby is stopping by bookstores in towns we visit to see if I can find our book on the shelf (wow, that's embarrassing, sorry). And since our book is a "green" book, if I can find it, it is usually hiding amidst the greenery. And whoa! There's some foliage there to take out with the machete: green biz, green money profit, green cars, green clean, green sex, you name it. What flashes through my mind as I stare at the shelves is brain clutter, paralysis of options, media overexposure, green fatigue.
Stephen and I bought literally scores of these sustainable, natural building, eco-friendly books when we were doing the research for our book. And what we found is that a fair share of these books are either impractical, talking about the wrong kind of green (cash dollars), or too labor-intensive. So when I find myself standing at the entrance to the grocery store in Flagstaff trying to convince innocent shoppers to enter into conversation about my book, I'm not all that surprised when they shy away to thump the seedless watermelons on special in the cardboard bin next to me.
What to do? I want to cry, "Wait! My book is honest, I wrote it to get people to take one step, any step, towards energy independence. I'm not just hanging on the bandwagon here, this planet and your eco-interior design firm are going straight down the suck hole if you don't start to make some serious changes." I know there is a lot of eco-noise out in the world right now. If I hear one more thing about solar panels that stick to your window and are 50% more efficient, I might just bust that window with a baseball bat and jump right out. Hang up your damn clothes to dry on your solar clothes dryer, build a solar oven, open your curtains on a cold sunny day, but don't worry about some hypothetical solar electric panels 20 years away from reality. Solar energy is FREE, dude, so start using it however you can ? right now!
So In the interest of alleviating a bit of green fatigue, here are some of the very few "green" books and articles I've read and recommend!
Art Ludwig, The New Create an Oasis With Greywater and The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting
Since much of the country has been under drought conditions over the past few years, these two books together can help you make the most of your water resource through recycling greywater and catching the rain that falls on your own roof.
Lyle Estill, Small Is Possible: Life in a Local Economy
A quirky and engaging look at ways to revive moribund local economies. Lyle is a visionary, to say the least.
Mike Oehler, The 50 Dollar and Up Underground House Book
This is the book that Stephen and I found a copy of, oh, about seventeen years ago (when we were seventeen years old). I blame it entirely for the crazy notions we got about building our first house together out in the woods.
Carol Verolia and Kelly Lerner, Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House: Bringing Your Home Into Harmony with Nature
Of the myriad green building books on the market, this one's legit.
And, last but not least:
Homepower stays on top of the fast-paced world of renewable energy, but keeps a practical approach, recommending only technologies that are field-tested and really work.