Normally I post book reivews on my Goodreads page, but when you job is as boaring as mine is, its really easy to obess about things. I have been carring my reaction to this book around in my head for a couple of weeks and I need to get it out (again).
I appreciate the delicate balance between the practical and perfect echo friendly life. I'm living it. I take my own bags, bring my own cup, but then... I throw a bag of Chex Mix into my basket along with my Kraft Mac and(chemical powder) Cheese. There are a lot of echo writers out there who standerds are fair above mine and they have no sympathy for us smucks still holding on to our processed foods.
It was with this mind set that I picked up Vanessa Farquharson's book Sleeping Naked is Green. She is different than most environmental voices out there in that she's young, hip and not without a sense of practicality. She spent a year making one echo change a day. Once she made a change she stuck with it so when she unplugged her fridge at day 28 it stayed unplugged. Not all of her changes were so drastic. There was the day that she decided to use revolving doors and she did the switch from paper towels to recycled paper towels, but I can understand that coming up with 366 echo changes isn't easy.
So what did I think of the book? Over all I liked it. I liked that we saw someone who was freaked out by the stuff she had to do. Things are hard. Let's face it, there is a reason why we call this junk "modern conveniences". They make life convenient. Its not convenient keep composting warms, give up meat, live with out a fridge or bike instead of drive your car.
Okay, that last point leads me to my number one problem with this book. I'll be up front here and say that its a personal issue. Its just me. I know this. I need to get over it, but weeks after reading the book it still bothers me.... the no car challenge.
Vanessa decides to sell her car. She lives in the heart of Toronto which has a decent public transit system. She also bikes a lot and then she rents Zip cars when she is in a hurry. She talks a lot about how hard life is without a car is. She does a write up in the magazine she works for about a guy who sold his car and walks because its better for the earth. When she talks to this guy she talks about how amazing and inspiring he is. She puts him on a echo pedestal. *Gag*
There are millions of people in this country living without a car for no echo-self-aggrandizing reason other than they can't afford a car. They have jobs to go to, children to get to school and groceries to buy. They do this on foot, with unreliable public transit and no Zip car. Why not write a newspaper article about them? I'll gladly put them on a pedestal because I can't fathom living in my public-transit-hating-city without a car and yet, people are forced to do it.
I'm not diminishing Vanessa's experience. I get that life without a car is a pain in the butt. I just wish she would stop for a second and realized that when she gave up her car she gave up a luxury item.
Speaking of luxury. Right in the middle of her year long challenge Vanessa got a call from her mom. A really cute newly remodeled townhouse went up for sale right around the corner and she wanted Vanessa to check it out. Vanessa checked it out and fell in love. It was her dream house. She promptly called up the bank of Mom and Dad and got a loan. This again, is a personal issue of mine. I have numerous friends whose parents have bought them things like cars and houses and college educations. I came to this book with a chip on my shoulder the size of Alaska. I don't have parents who could buy me a car, let alone a house. Vanessa spent a good deal of time talking about the stress of buying the most adorable house ever. Why was it stressful if it wasn't your money? Because you had to figure out how to fill out the paper work in between string your compost and going on dates? Wow.
I'm not keeping a compost bin in my apartment anytime soon, unplugging my fridge or selling my car. I'm humbled by everything she did and still does. I enjoyed her writing and loved a lot of her stories. Its a book I would pass on to some of my friends (if I hadn't have checked it out of the library). I just wish she wasn't so flip about what she had and what she was giving up. Weeks later that is what sticks with me more than any else. Be grateful dammit! Its not just her, there are a lot of very nice people with this same mind set and they all bug the crap out of me. I waited several weeks after reading the book to try to separate my own issues from her story and I just can't do it. I'm tainted. I do feel better now that I've whined.