When the publishers of Diane MacEachern's Big Green Purse book offered me a free copy for review, I jumped at the chance. We've been readers of Diane's Big Green Purse website and blog for some time, and have been impressed at her wealth of experience in the green-living world. You see, we at EnviroMom are fairly new to this green living stuff, having recently celebrated EnviroMom.com's one-year anniversary. If you're a regular reader of our site, you'll know that we are learning as we go, and taking baby steps to greener living when ever possible. So that's where a book like Diane's Big Green Purse is helpful. It filled in a lot of blanks for me.
What's cool to know is that Diane has been living an environmentally friendly life for a long time. She's raised her kids this way (so there's hope that mine will survive all my crazy green initiatives). Her well researched book is the kind of reference book that every green mom should have on her bookshelf. If you stumbled upon green living the way I did, you may have a lot of missing pieces in the puzzle (oh, like meaning to look up what dioxin is for that last umpteen months, but never remembering to). This book helped me clear up some of my areas of confusion, and Diane explained things in a way that helped me to understand them (i.e., unlike the very overwhelming wikipedia dioxin link above). Diane's book explores the many ways we women can use our spending power to support and underwrite eco-friendly products -- because 85 cents of every dollar spent is the marketplace is spent by women, as MacEachern explains. She also emphasizes that precycling (i.e., only buying new when you really, really need to) is an important cornerstone of the green life as well. But that when you do buy some thing, do your homework. Look beyond the "greenwashing" claims of many marketers and make sure you are buying a product that truly does minimize its impact on the environment (Diane explains a lot of these that are commonly used and very often misleading, even if you are trying to buy responsibly). She divides her chapters in key areas where you can reduce, simplify and go green. For example, she looks at personal products: toothpaste, deodorant, lotions, shampoos, sunscreen, shaving cream, makeup, etc. There's a surprising number of things use women typically buy. She delves into the nasty stuff these products often contain, the unsubstantiated claims the marketers often make in a highly unregulated industry, and then gives practical suggestions on how to find the safest, greenest and fewest products to meet our personal hygiene needs.
I will caution that this is a densely written book -- probably best not read "cover-to-cover" as I read it. If you come at it from the baby-step approach, I suggest you jump in and read when you need, when you need it. I, for example, have documented my frustrations in trying to find a natural deodorant that works. Diane's book gave me the whole story on all the nasty chemicals and anti-bacterials that standard deodorants contain. So while I don't relish the idea of being stinky, I do see the whole picture better now, and I'm more motivated to find that elusive, non-toxic deodorant that works with my body chemistry!! So this is just one area of the book that motivated me. There's 25 key areas. You'll learn a lot. I promise. Lots of good tips and suggestions for getting yourself to take a real close look at some sacred cows. Her section on transportation and the costs associated with owning and driving cars is tempting me to do an analysis of why we are keeping my husband's car in the garage, when we hardly ever drive it (since he's been bike commuting faithfully for over a year now).
I will stop now. Big Green Purse is a highly informative, well researched and important green living book for women. I learned a lot by reading it, and I think you will to.