Saturday, August 1, 2009

Currently Reading: Sleeping Naked is Green

Saturday, August 1, 2009

As the editor of Bird Watcher's Digest magazine, I get a lot of nature and birding books sent to me for review. Most of them I send off to BWD's hand-picked reviewers, often folks with an interest or expertise in the subject matter of each title. When Sleeping Naked is Green landed on my desk, I was intrigued enough to keep this one for myself.

Sleeping Naked is Green was written by a fellow journalist (she writes for The National Post in Toronto) and blogger, Vanessa Farquharson, who, as a self-professed eco-cynic, wanted to see what all this green stuff was all about. She challenged herself to make one green change in her life per day for an entire year. And then she wrote about each change—how she accomplished it, felt about it, and how it affected her (and the universe). Initially she wrote about these daily changes on her blog, which eventually attracted a significant worldwide readership and a book deal.

Having just finished Sleeping Naked I wanted to share it (and my reaction to it) with BOTB's readers. Why? Because this is a really interesting book. Ms. Farquharson writes with a delightfully light touch. I admit that I felt some trepidation as I started reading—trepidation that it was going to be a bit of a Gen-X snarkfest, chock full of navel-gazing and whiny griping about how badly this eco-adventure was making her life suck. As I got deeper into the book (which I read in small bites until the last 75 pages, or so, which I read in one day) I found the author's voice and writing style to be quite pleasing. She is that rare creature: an environmentalist with a great sense of humor. And some well-honed writing chops.

I was also curious to see how many of the author's green initiatives were ones to which I could relate. Answer: A lot of them. Some I already do: recycling, buying local food, gardening and composting, using permanent shopping bags, if it's yellow....—all the stuff many of you probably do, too. But I also got an insight into how much easier some green, eco-friendly steps are for city dwellers than for us country-living folks. For example, Vanessa gave up her car. This was a bold and admirable step, and my recycled bamboo-cloth baseball hat is off to her, but it's one I could never do, living 17 miles from the nearest hospital, grocery store, or taxi cab. She also unplugged both her freezer and her refrigerator. Wow!

Other ideas that Vanessa put into action are ones that I will be incorporating into my life: turning down the thermostat on the water heater, switching to all-natural cleaning products, stop shaving my legs (already have), not getting receipts if I don't need them for store and gas station purchases. Each chapter in Sleeping Naked begins with a list of the changes she made day-by-day in each month. This is a handy reference for readers to check themselves against.

Sleeping Naked is full of great ideas. It's also full of funny turns of phrase, great pokes at the ironies of environmentalism and consumerism, and hundreds of wonderful, thought-provoking stories about 366 days of trying to be greener than you were yesterday.

If you're feeling an urge to green-up your life a bit, Sleeping Naked is Green is a wonderful jumping-off point. I highly recommend this book.

To learn more about the author and what she's up to now, visit her website and blog at

Book details: Published by Mariner Books, paperback, $13.95, 267 pages.


On August 1, 2009 at 8:07 PM Beverly said...

Love your new site, but didn't your wife just leave Blogspot? This makes me wonder why she left and you joined. But then...I wonder about such things. LOL

Oh...and did you mean to say "When Sleeping Green is Naked landed on my desk..." in that first paragraph? I looked for the web-geek, but couldn't find her address. Sorry...

On August 2, 2009 at 1:24 AM said...

Quite and interesting articles you have!especcially about birds.i loved birds too since i was a little boy! I have plenty of birds here in my haus. i hope we can exchange links! Have a good day! God bless you and your family!

On August 2, 2009 at 9:11 AM Patrick B. said...

My wife just finished this book too. She loved it.

On August 2, 2009 at 11:58 AM Deborah said...

BT3 - If you're serious about the cleaning products, after MUCH through research (you know me), I can highly recommend Charlie's Soap:

I'll never buy any other kind again! You don't even need fabric softener. We've almost entirely quit using paper towels, but Seventh Generation are pretty good: 100 percent recycled/ 80 percent post-consumer; likewise the toilet paper. Marcal tp isn't bad, either (for, as Dave says, "used toilet paper!").

An environmentalist with a great sense of humor is rare? Seems to me like it's almost a prerequisite!

You and JZ would LOVE "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto," by Michael Pollan (author of The Botany of Desire").


On August 2, 2009 at 12:45 PM robin andrea said...

Sounds like an interesting and entertaining read. Always a good combination.

On August 2, 2009 at 1:33 PM Deborah said...

P.S. I forgot one: shampoos and lotions and such; all-natural, not tested on animals, work great . . .

On August 2, 2009 at 2:06 PM Julie Zickefoose said...

Happy to say I cleaned all day yesterday using Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day products--general all-purpose cleaner worked great even on the showers and tubs, and smells sooo much better than the caustic stuff I used to use. Plus, it's much faster to use than the spray stuff, since you just slop a sponge in a bucket of it and wipe away. Now, if we could only find a distributor closer than two hours away...might need to go online and order it. Is that green?

Toss that book my way now that you're done with it.

On August 2, 2009 at 2:47 PM Deborah said...

Hmmmm, I'v never tried Mrs. Meyers' but I might, given such a ringing endorsement. Charlies makes an all-purpose cleaner that really works well, too - but no dish soap!

I figure ordering online is nearly as green as driving; at least the truck is making multiple deliveries in one trip.

On August 3, 2009 at 9:41 PM littleorangeguy said...

I think your point about urban vs rural environmentalism is crucial, Bill. It is an irony that in many ways I am able to live more "greenly" in Toronto that I would in rural Newfoundland, where I grew up. We too live easily without a car and a freezer here, but would love to know how to do it without a fridge!