Consumer Power Eco-positivity

Book review: Eco Thrifty Living

Eco-Thrifty Living by Zoë Morrison

Review by Clive Margolis,

Zoë has written a how-to book, and I’m a sucker for how-to books!

It’s full of handy hints and practical advice on how to be a better consumer. There are literally thousands of ideas out there on how to be greener so it’s all a question of picking the most practical ones, which this book attempts to do.

There’s useful advice on how to set goals and meet them. This book is about becoming more eco-friendly while saving money.

But it’s not always easy to know we are doing the right thing. For example, says Zoë, what if you take a second-hand fridge to stop it going to landfill but find yourself burning more fossil fuels because it’s not as energy-efficient as a newer model? Zoë is keen to point out that doing the right thing can involve a quite complex calculation. Sometimes we think we’re helping the environment but are we really? When we take everything into account?

There are chapters on: the kitchen, fashion, the bathroom, energy costs, kids, gardening and more. It’s clear Zoë is realistic and realises the challenges we all face in greening up our lives. There are no simple solutions when deciding what type of food to buy, but we can always reduce our food waste.

There’s an interesting chapter on consumerism, with more people than ever able to buy almost anything we want, and the problems that brings. Zoë describes the huge chain of events that is set in motion for everything we buy in the shops or online. Do you really need everything you have in your home? she asks.

There’s a big list of ways you can offload your stuff too, including the best – just give it away.

I enjoyed the idea of Buy Nothing Week, although we haven’t got there yet in my household (although I buy everything I can second-hand and blog about it).

The chapter on sustainable fashion shows how to be more zero-waste about your clothing. Look guys, we already know enough about the fashion industry to know we should tread very carefully when buying any clothes whatever. Do the right thing! Lots of good advice on how to get your clothes cruelty-free (and when I say cruelty I include cruelty to the planet, other humans and humans of the future who have to clear up after us).

I found things I didn’t know.

Who’d have thought an email with a large attachment can account for as much as 50g of CO2?

Who’d have thought an email with a large attachment can account for as much as 50g of CO2? Which considering how many millions of emails are sent every day is pretty scary. An average email however has a carbon footprint of 0.3g which sounds a lot less scary.

Instead of giving each other gifts we may not even like Zoe’s idea is to give “experience” gifts, like National Trust membership. I mean, what a great idea! Or a token they can call on for you to babysit or feed their cat.

The section on kids reminded me of when our kids were kids. At that time we were living in New Zealand – I don’t think we bought them any new clothes until they started school. Most stuff was just passed from one family to another, and of course from one child to the next. What goes around went around, and I don’t just mean the endless bugs small kids catch when they mix with other small kids. And we were aware too that this is how life is meant to be.

There’s a great chapter full of ideas on reducing your energy costs, including shopping around annually for a cheaper supplier. I like to do this as the bill always seems to end up more than what was estimated when we signed up. Always going for green energy of course!

On the subject of energy, it’s interesting to note how many people are happy these days to saunter down the motorway at 60 mph, where just a few years ago no self-respecting motorist would want to travel at less than the 70 mph speed limit. This one action saves so much carbon-emitting fuel, not to mention money.

All in all, it’s a well-written book with a positive slant. Great if you’re looking to green up your life, and your family’s.

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