**Warning: I wear my heart on my sleeve. This post has things to say and opinions (backed by science) to share.**
What’s the Point of Being Green? by Jacqui Bailey is the most depressing, worrying book I’ve read this year. It’s also the nonfiction book this year I wish all my blog readers and their kids would read.
What’s the Point of Being Green? tackles head on how you and I are slowly destroying the thing we rely on – our planet, our home, the Earth. It pulls no punches as it lucidly discusses the causes and catastrophic consequences of climate change and environmental destruction. It’s a message lots of people don’t want to hear, it’s a message lots of people outright deny, but it’s a message we all need to take on board and respond to.
With chapters on fossil fuels and their alternatives, the degradation of the natural environment and the concomitant impact on biodiversity (and why this matters), population growth, over-consumption and waste this book looks at the damage we’re doing from every important aspect.
And whilst it doesn’t shy away from the problems and their enormity, the book is packed with ways we can all make a difference with tips on how we can change our behaviour and why we should change our values, open our eyes and accept what is happening.
The book is brilliantly written for its target audience (fluent readers to 14, I’d say), with an urgency and liveliness that makes the book exciting and gives the reader a sense of empowerment; not only are the issues presented clearly, excitingly and thoughtfully, young readers will feel they can indeed make a difference.
M lapped the book up; she enjoyed retelling lots of facts she’d learned, and enjoyed even more “badgering” us to make changes suggested by the book, from collecting our shower water to reuse on houseplants to making sure we use lids on our pans when cooking.
The colourful illustrations, including lots of cartoons, are fun and although the book is jam-packed with information it is all presented in easy-to-enjoy chunks, great for both dipping in and out of, but also reading from cover to cover. There’s a glossary, well compiled index and a very useful list of organizations and websites to explore on the topics raised in this book.
This is a book with a powerful agenda. Some people won’t like that, but I love it. M loves it. It’s utterly depressing, compelling and essential reading.
In case you hadn’t guessed, the issues discussed in this book are ones very close to my heart. I’ve read the science, I understand what is happening, I’m frightened by the environmental changes that are taking place, but I’m trying my hardest to do what I can to keep the planet healthy for future generations.
That’s why we don’t own a car, we never fly, we really try to limit “stuff” we buy, we grow as much food as we can ourselves, we eat no fish and very little meat, all the electricity we use comes from renewable resources. I’m telling you all this because we still lead a vibrant, exciting, cultured and creative life. I’m trying to encourage you to see that you too can make changes that might seem enormous, but that are perfectly do-able, and are ultimately enriching. The biggest difficulty is changing one’s attitude.
Outburst over, we still could do better as a family. Absolutely. So that’s why in response to reading What’s the Point of Being Green? when M suggest we make our own handkerchiefs we can re-use I enthusiastically supported her request.
First we looked out favourite bits of cotton fabric remnants and cut them into squares (our happened to work out about 25cm square). M and J then hemmed them up, with varying degrees of help from me, to create handkerchiefs. If you don’t sew, you could buy some blank cotton handkerchiefs (we found them easily in a department store) and customise them with fabric crayons or paints, or even with a little bit of embroidery.
I created a tissue holder out of an old tights leg – we can hang it on a door, pop the clean ones in the top and pull them out from the bottom when we need them.
Whilst sewing and blowing our noses we listened to:
Arthur Smid came up with lots more wonderful songs about climate change and other environmental issues including Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by Jack Johnson, The Polar Bear Song, My Changing Planet, I’m a Climate Scientist (my personal favourite), a Sesame Street recycling song, and two long lists of environmentally themed songs – this one and this one. Huge thanks to @taigacompany, @polarbears, @hatfieldpdx, @AnnaEvely, @MomsCAF and @pdxmarian for helping compile this list.
Other activities which could work well alongside reading What’s the Point of Being Green? include:
The script, with extensive peer-reviewed references and additional information and links, is available at wakeupfreakout.org along with links to translations in more than twenty foreign languages.
Ok, now it’s over to you. As my husband asked as I drafted this post “What will your blog readers make of this? How will they respond?”. I don’t know, but I’m all ears.
This book is one of six books shortlisted for the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2011, an award that celebrates the best recent books that communicate science to young people. The winner will be announced on December 1st.
Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher. This review, however, reflect my own and honest opinion.