If you want to be green but can’t face wearing hemp, if you get frozen in the supermarket deciding whether to buy the organic Italian apples wrapped in plastic or the non-organic apples that are loose and local, and if you feel guilty every time you let the tap run but still have to bath now and again, then Christie Matheson’s book Green Chic: Saving the Earth in Style is the book for you.
As Matheson says in the introduction, ” … we need to embrace the fabulousness of green living. And it is fabulous. Being green can help you look gorgeous, have a killer wardrobe, feel amazing, travel in style, create a home that’s an oasis, host fun parties, eat incredible food, and drink phenomenal wine, all while feeling more connected to your friends, family and nature.” She says that while buying an eco-friendly cashmere jersey will not stop global warming, it is the change in mindset, in starting to become conscious consumers, that will help us to reduce our individual contributions and encourage systemic change.
This week I bought some clothes for my kid, who needed shorts and T-shirts for summer. I have heard that you should wash new clothes before wearing them because of the chemicals shops spray on them to make them hang nicely, but I had never believed it until now. He put on one of his new T-shirts and within an hour had a rash across his neck. Cue parental guilt and vows only to purchase organic cotton tees from now on. Green is clearly not only good for the planet, but good for our health too.
Matheson’s book is clearly divided into useful chapters, from being green at home, to eating and drinking green, beauty, fashion, transportation and travel. There’s even a chapter on how to throw a green party. When I read blogs on the environment, like the No Impact Man or wonderful books like Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, my main reaction – apart from being grateful that there are people out there who are actually doing something about the environment – is to be intimidated and then feel guilty. Although in many ways we are a fairly green household, there is still room for improvement: we run two cars, still sometimes buy food in plastic wrapping, drink bottled water, forget to switch our computers off, even (aargh, pains me to admit) use paper napkins sometimes. Once I feel guilty, I get overwhelmed and can’t imagine how I could even start to change these things that prey on my conscience.
What Matheson does so well is to praise the baby steps. She’s not saying we all need to get solar panels tomorrow, but she is saying that we should be aware and start to make small changes in our lives. Very kindly, like a lovely big sister, she points out the small changes we can make. Here are some that resonated with me:
* Time how long your standard shower takes and then challenge yourself to cut it down
* Keep a full fridge (if you don’t have a large family like mine, fill it with organic wine instead of food) and only run a full dishwasher
* Avoid PVC in any form – it is evil
* Choose local and non-organic over organic food that has travelled a long distance (but long-distance organic is better than long-distance non-organic)
* Eat more whole food – it puts less strain on the environment than processed food (bye-bye chilli rice cakes … sniff)
* Cut back on meat – it is also a strain on the environment
* Use chemical-free lipsticks – the chemical ones contain a long list of hideous ingredients which we eat since they are on our lips. Yuck!
* Edit your closet so that you only shop for clothes you need
* Buy organic rather than conventional cotton, which is the most pesticide-intensive farming in the world
* Drive smoothly (no abrupt braking) and stick to the speed limit
* Switch the car’s air conditioning off and open a window
* Use the car wash instead of washing it yourself (or you could leave it dirty, like mine)
I have cherry-picked (ahem, nature pun alert) the tips that I can actually imagine myself doing, but there are many more which might resonate with you in this excellent book. For US readers, Matheson includes a long list at the end of her favourite eco-friendly retailers, many of whom have websites.
To celebrate all that is green, I would like to offer Green Chic to one of my fabulous readers. Just put your name in the comments if you’re interested, and in the course of this week I will draw a winner.
Now I’m off to town (on foot) to return some books to the library (borrowing, not consuming)!