VeganMoFo, Day 20: Frugal vegans stockpile staples as though the dead are reanimating.

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

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(This post has absolutely nothing to do with zombies; it’s just that time of the year, and you happened to catch me in the midst of a zombie kick. A more appropriate title might be “Frugal vegans buy in quantity.” Not nearly as catchy though, am I right?)

Naturally, the more you pledge to buy of any given item, the better overall deal you’ll get on said item – per pound, per box, per case, per widget, per whatever. This maxim is equally true of “normal people” foods (fruit, vegetables, grains, etc.) and vegan specialty items (meat analogs, faux cheeses, soy milks and dairy substitutes, etc.) – so buying in quantity is a strategy that frugal vegans can employ, no matter their dietary habits.

There are four ways that regular consumers like you and I can “buy in quantity”:

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1. Buy packaged foodstuffs in the largest available sizes.

Usually the savings here are minimal – we’re talking pennies per pound – but you can save a little money by purchasing the largest available size of cans (jars, bags, etc.) of food. Some stores make it simple to compare cost across sizes; Wal-Mart and Wegmans, for example, include price per pound (ounce, fluid ounce, etc.) information on the shelf pricing label.

If not, it’s fairly easy to calculate (and if you usually shop at the same store or chain, you only need to run the numbers once – then keep a list of the cheapest goods and stick with it!):

Price per ounce = The cost of the item divided by the item’s weight in ounces

Price per pound = (The cost of the item divided by the item’s weight in ounces) x 16

Price per fluid ounce = The cost of the item divided by the item’s volume in fluid ounces

Price per quart = (The cost of the item divided by the item’s volume in fluid ounces) x 32

Price per gallon = (The cost of the item divided by the item’s volume in fluid ounces) x 128

Always be sure to compare cost across sizes and brands. The largest size usually gives you the greatest savings per pound, however, this isn’t always the case. A two-pound jar of name brand peanut butter, for example, may actually cost more per pound than a 1-pound jar of the generic/store brand.

Of course, buying a gallon of tomato sauce will only save you money if you’re able to use it all; toss it out, and you’ve wasted money in the end. When buying perishable items, a) make sure you have a way to save or preserve the extras and/or b) don’t purchase more than you can actually use.

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VeganMoFo, Day 17: Vegan Treats On (Vegan) Etsy

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

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My mother is notoriously difficult to shop for. If you buy her clothing, odds are she won’t like it. Give her jewelry, most likely she won’t wear it (allergies). She doesn’t have much extra time to read books or watch movies; now that her nest is empty, she works three jobs (making her kids look like lazy asshats in comparison!). Edible yumyums are a good choice, but I’ve fallen back on chocolates so often that I’m starting to look somewhat unimaginative. So when Mother’s Day came around, I found myself in bit of a pickle. And while I love pickles, it’s not my favorite place to be.

For whatever reason, Etsy came to mind, and I decided to check it out. The craftacular Etsy, by the by,

is a website that provides the general public with a way to buy and sell handmade items as well as vintage items and craft supplies. Handmade items cover a wide range including art, photography, clothing, jewelry, edibles, bath & beauty products, and toys. The site follows in the tradition of open craft fairs, giving sellers personal storefronts where they list their goods for a fee.

Etsy allows sellers to self-organize into different “teams” – which are kind of like plazas composed of similar store fronts. Teams can form around a location, craft, medium, interest, lifestyle, philosophy…I think you know where I’m going with this! Etsy boasts two teams of interest: EtsyVeg (tagline: “Your source for unique goods from vegan and vegetarian artisans”) and the more discriminating Vegan Etsy (“We Read Ingredients” – please and thank you!).

After much browsing – I am an obsessive comparison shopper – I settled on some baked goods from The Cupcake Mint: 1 Dozen Giant Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies; 4 Oatmeal Raisin Spice Vegan Cookie Cream Sandwiches; and Half Dozen Jumbo Vegan Cinnamon Rolls, samples of which are pictured above (photo courtesy my lil’ sis). Naturally, I cannot attest to the yumminess of any of these, since 1,000+ miles separated my mother the baked goods and myself, but I heard from my mother, my grandmother, and yes, even my sister that they were incredible: huge, gooey, soft, sweet – everything cookies and pastries should be. Win!

Anyhow, since my minor victory, I’ve taken to browsing Etsy in search of gift ideas. I prefer to support fellow vegans with my purchasing power whenever possible, and Etsy is home to some really talented vegans! (Many of them women, which is a double bonus for this vegan feminist.)

For example, the Vegan Etsy team features 146 members, including these storefronts, which are among my favorites:

* The Cupcake Mint, whose specialty is – duh! – cupcakes. Mark my words, cinnamon rolls – one day, you will be mine.

* KT’s Kitchen – Another vegan bakery, KT’s has a wide variety of goods, including Liz Lemon cookies, which makes me all smiley and happy.

* UberDuperCreations, which sells handmade dog dishes and treat jars, as well as vegan and animal rights zines. Dog treat production will be resuming sometime in the future!

* SweetFritsy is home to vegan baked goods and some homemade candies, too. Everything is crazy cute, especially the seasonal Halloween goodies.

* Cody Pendent rocks the party. And if you were to buy me the Little Red Riding Hood, you’d totally rock, too. (*wink, wink*)

* Starrlight Jewelry makes incredibly gorgeous goth jewelry – and for animal companions, too.

I could go on and on, but seeing as it’s 7PM and I’ve yet to eat dinner, probably all I’ll do is inventory vegan bakeries and drool on my keyboard, so it’s best to wrap this shit up. Etsy can be a magical place for vegans, especially if you know where to shop! Many of the sellers are individual DIYers or small businesses, so if you have a special request or need something made custom, Etsy is your friend. There are also lots of good deals to be had, plus the aforementioned fuzzy wuzzies that come from supporting Team Vegan.

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VeganMoFo, Day 14: Frugal vegans think outside the box (plate?).

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

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When people criticize the “prohibitive cost” of a vegan (or even vegetarian) diet, what they’re really saying is that specialty vegan foods are expensive. And you know what? They’re right. Meat analogs, soy yogurt made from non-GMO soybeans, gluten-free gourmet vegan ice cream and “melts like cheese!” non-dairy cheeses, when purchased on a regular basis, can really drive up your grocery bill. (There’s a reason vegans not-so/jokingly refer to Whole Foods as “Whole Paycheck”!) The good news is that one can adopt a nutritious, healthy and cruelty-free diet without consuming any of these things (although they’re all perfectly yummy and affordable when eaten in moderation!).

The “typical” American diet is heavy on protein (mostly in the form of animal flesh), sugar, saturated fat and processed grains and contains woefully little fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts. The average adult requires between 40 and 70 grams of protein per day, with needs varying according to age, gender and lifestyle. Women 14 years and older generally need about 46 grams, while men of the same age require slightly more – 52-56 grams. During pregnancy, a woman’s nutritional requirements change (obviously!); a woman eating for two should consume about 71 grams of protein per day. Estimates vary, but there’s a general consensus that Americans eat far too much protein (between 50 and 200% more than is necessary or healthy), while protein deficiency is a rarity.

When transitioning from an omnivorous to a vegan diet, it can be tempting to simply replace animal-based products with vegan substitutes: in place of bacon, Smart Bacon; instead of Yoplait, Whole Soy; in lieu of Kraft Singles, Tofutti slices – and so on and so forth. But, while you may be treating non-human animals compassionately by recreating a vegan version of an unhealthy diet, you are not being kind to your own body. Or – more pertinent to this discussion – your pocketbook.

Instead of reenacting the “traditional”* American meal of two overly-processed side dishes flanking an oversized centerpiece of “meat,” why not rethink how and what you eat? One of the unexpected benefits of veganism is the new-found culinary creativity, borne of necessity. When one is forced – or rather, compelled – to give up so many “staples” once taken for granted, you’ve got to learn new ways of doing things. And the dysfunctional composition of the American “fast food” diet should be the first (well, second) thing to go.

Many newbie vegans are concerned about protein intake. In fact, this is due in no small part to cultural indoctrination; “where do you get your protein?” is perhaps the most common question asked of vegans. While many faux meats and dairy substitutes do contain a large amount of protein, so too do raw, unprocessed and relatively inexpensive foods (what I call “naturally vegan”).

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VeganMoFo, Day 12: Frugal Vegans…Say "Hey" (Hey!)

Monday, October 12th, 2009

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Apropos my efforts to save money, here I am, dressing Peedee not in specially-made doggy duds, but rather my old baby clothes.
Pokey Little Puppy, that’s me!

While brainstorming possible topics in preparation for VeganMoFo III, one of the first ideas to come to mind was a post about how to live frugally as a vegan. The supposed expense (and, consequently, “elitism”) of a vegan diet and/or lifestyle is an oft-invoked argument against veganism (and even vegetarianism), and is only becoming more common in these tough economic times. Sometimes sincere, oftentimes self-serving – and occasionally even coming from the mouths of vegans – this is one mythconception in need of a good debunking.

Luckily, I was able to come up with so many tips that I quickly decided to make this an ongoing series of posts, rather than a single article. (Indeed, a few penny-pinching vegans have built entire blogs around this topic, as we shall see!) Since this is VeganMoFo, the focus will be on food, but should the series prove popular, perhaps I’ll cover other consumables in the future. Not to mention, it’ll be awfully helpful to have an entire category of posts to which I can refer the naysayers who think that you’ve got to have an annual salary of 75k+ in order to live simply (and let others simply live). (Oh, how I adore that phrase!)

But first, a disclaimer: I speak from a position of privilege. I was born and raised a middle-class suburbanite; my husband has a secure, well-paying job, and though we now live in a rural area (on the outskirts of the “barbecue capital of the world,” natch), where it can sometimes be difficult to find specialty vegan products, we have the means to easily procure most anything we need (or want): car, internet connection, credit card, etc. Much of my advice, then, assumes similar agency in my audience.

That said, not everyone can easily order a case of Teese online and on a whim. Some folks, particularly those living in low-income/urban areas, don’t have ready (or any) access to staples, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrain foods, or “meat” and “dairy” products – let alone meat analogs and faux cheeses! A number of factors are at play here: the dearth of grocery stores in low-income/urban areas, coupled with an invasion of fast food joints; broken and fragmented public transportation systems; a shortage of funding for public schools, resulting in cost-cutting in school food programs; and a patriarchical / kyriarchical / megatheocorporatocratic system that benefits the few at the expense of the many – for starters. If animal advocates wish to convince more people to adopt a vegan diet, these are factors we must address (and should be addressed anyhow, if only from a human rights perspective).

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Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty – Eat Green, Save Green

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

The following is the 2008 Blog Action Day post I wrote for Smite Me! [.net], my non-AR blog. At first, I’d intended to write a post about how to live frugally while also being eco-friendly, but it quickly morphed into a post about veg*n food. Blame it on VeganMoFo!

If I have enough time tonight, I’d also like to blog about the impact of the economic crisis (especially foreclosures) on our animal companions, but that remains to be seen. In the meantime, check out this piece at Invisible Voices, in which Deb links Nestle’s exploitation of women and children to that of animals.

Who says animal liberation isn’t a feminist issue?

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In the wake of the current credit and banking crises, many pundits have been predicting that the presidential candidates will have to curb their proposed spending plans drastically when the winner takes office in January. With home foreclosures skyrocketing, pumping money towards renewable energy may seem like a luxury. Yet, an investment in these technologies could create jobs and set us on the path to energy independence. Though the initial investment might be high, the cost of feeding our oil addiction may prove much higher.

Aside from voting and petitioning our state and federal representatives, there’s little we can do as individuals to impact federal spending on eco-friendly options. However, on a micro level, we have a chance to save both money and the earth through the many little (and the few big) choices we make on a daily basis. Just as with the federal government’s expenditures, being “green” may cost a little more up front, but could save us money in the long run.

In a recent piece at Grist, Miles Grant observes notes an obvious parallel between tips to help you save money – and tips to help you save the environment:

Who are you to deny me my two-car garage filled with junk, an elegant dining room I’ll never use, and massive heating/cooling bills?

That’s the basic response from critics when greens question McMansions in particular and our consumer culture in general. I mean, isn’t newer, bigger, better the American way? Didn’t President Bush urge us to go shopping more?

But one financial advisor says trying to look rich by buying so much stuff is keeping some Americans from being rich. And while he never once mentions the environment, his prescriptions for building your savings have a lot in common with tips for cutting your environmental impact.

Being green and being frugal aren’t mutually exclusive, you see. Oftentimes, the two go hand in hand.

This year’s Blog Action theme is poverty; because I’m all about intersecting oppressions (such as classism, environmental destruction and the role of the megatheocorporatocracy in each), I thought I might offer some food-related tips for positively impacting your cash flow and your ecological imprint. Since we’re in the midst of the Vegan Month of Foods – for which I’ve been baking, cooking, drying and otherwise experimenting like mad – I’d like to focus on food, specifically, how one can eat green to save green.

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VeganMoFo, Day 1: Eating Locally (X-Treme Edition)

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

As I mentioned in yesterday’s link roundup, the Vegan Month of Food is upon us!:

Join us for VeganMofo – the Vegan Month Of Food. The idea is to write as much as you can for the month of October about vegan food. The blog entries can be about anything food related – your love of tongs, your top secret tofu pressing techniques, the first time your mom cooked vegan for you, vegan options in Timbuktu – you get the idea.

Last year we didn’t come up with strict guidelines for how often we wrote, but I think the idea is to shoot for every weekday, or about 20 times in the month. Don’t forget to tag your stuff “veganmofo” and you can use the VeganMoFo banner (^up there) on your mofo posts. If you’d like inspiration or would just like to whine about how hard it is, check out the MoFo forum on the PPK message boards.

As the world catches on that vegan food really is the best choice for animals (suck it, humane meat!), the planet (bite me, melting ice caps!) and people (piss off, heart disease!) let’s show them what vegan eating is all about.

One last thing – you may remember that VeganMoFo was in November last year, well, this year it’s in October because there’s more produce and stuff. Also, I’ll be in NYC this November and not really near a computer.

To be included here, just leave a comment on this blog entry with a link to your URL. I will then include you in the RSS feed, once I remember how to update it. You can also join the VeganMoFo Flicker group. Happy writing everyone! If you’re feeling at a loss for how to start this off, why don’t you make your first entry about that?

If you want to participate, it’s not too late. Head on over to the Post Punk Kitchen to register your blog, join the Flickr group, and grab a banner.

There’s been quite a bit of talk on the internets lately about the (dis)advantages of eating locally, eating organic, “voting” with your dollars and “happy” meat. All of which has gotten me thinking about where I shop, how I shop, how much I spend and whether I’m using my “vote” wisely.

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Everyday Activism: DIY Purell

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

According to Michael Greger, Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States and M.D. (and author of Bird Flu, which I recently reviewed here), people are, shall we say, quite lax when it comes to washing their hands. Given that handwashing is one of the most effective ways to protect against infectious diseases such as Ebola and – yes! – avian influenza, findings such as these

Ninety-five percent say they wash their hands after using a public toilet, yet the American Society for Microbiology published a survey of almost 8,000 people across five U.S. cities and found the true number to be only about two-thirds. Chicago topped the list at 83%; in New York City, the actual number fell to less than half.

are a wee bit problematic.

The experts say that:

Proper hand washing, according to the director of clinical microbiology at Mount Sinai, involves lathering with plenty of soap for 20 to 30 seconds (about the time it takes to sing the “alphabet song” three times at a fast tempo), rinsing, and then repeating for another 20 to 30 seconds. CDC guidelines are similar, with additional reminders to wash between fingers and under the nails, and to soap into the creases around knuckles.

and:

At a minimum, experts advise, hands should be washed after every cough, every sneeze, and every time we shake hands with anyone. These simple recommendations may decrease the number of colds we get every year, the number of work days we miss, and the number of days we are laid up in bed. During a pandemic, they may even save your life.

As a true-green enviro, that strikes me as a crazy amount of water to be running through every day.

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Book Review: Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love, Lisa Carlson (1997)

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005

Care for the Dead…and Their Hard-Earned Savings!

five out of five stars

In “Caring for the Dead,” Lisa Carlson provides both an informative guide to DIY funerals and cremations, as well as a searing exposé of the funeral and cemetery industries.

Carlson divides her book into three sections: “Personal Stories” is a 40-page introduction to the text in which different individuals (including Carlson) discuss their experiences with death and the subsequent disposal of the dead; “General Information” consists of 14 chapters and explains both “traditional” and non-traditional funerals, as well as cremation and body and organ donation; finally, “Caring for the Dead” details the relevant laws and regulations of all 50 US states.

It was the “General Information” section that I found most captivating. I’ve never had to arrange a funeral (and hopefully I won’t need to for some time yet!), so I was woefully unaware of what actually takes place during the course of planning and implementing one. Carlson demonstrates how greed and callousness have pervaded the funeral and burial industries, causing prices to skyrocket while sales tactics plummet to new levels of depravity.

Through manipulative techniques and downright lies, funeral directors convince John Q. Public that embalming is both required by law and essential for public safety (in reality, it is neither, and the chemicals used are actually toxic to the environment), while cemeteries strong-arm consumers into paying maximum price for a minimum amount of real estate, all the while demanding that any upgrades be purchased, installed, and maintained solely by them (for a hefty fee, of course!). Even cremations don’t come cheap, as crematories guilt-trip survivors into buying expensive caskets (which will simply be destroyed within days) and cemeteries deceive them into buying niches in which to “bury” the cremains.

While this is all quite appalling, it hardly comes as a surprise; after all, it’s just another example of capitalism at its worst. Harder to comprehend is how funeral homes and cemeteries are allowed to get away with this sort of crap! Well, again, I guess I shouldn’t be shocked – we are talking about the FTC here. Like many savvy businesses, funeral homes and cemeteries simply band together in the form of associations, which then employ lobbyists, apply a modicum of political pressure, and top it all off with campaign contributions, and – presto! – the FTC at your command!

End of political rant, back to the book review!

In essence, the “General Information” section serves as an excellent consumer guide, informing you of your rights, detailing the immoral and sometimes illegal sales tactics you’re likely to encounter, and teaching you how to come out victorious over those who wish to separate you from YOUR money and rob you of the valuable opportunity to care for YOUR dead, YOUR way. The final chapters on state-by-state laws offer an excellent supplement to the general information.

I highly recommend “Caring for the Dead” to EVERYONE, whether you anticipate planning a funeral in the near future or not. Many Americans are duped into buying funeral and burial services that they neither need nor want. Chances are that, sooner or later, we’ll all be responsible for “caring for the dead,” or will know someone who is. As consumers (it sounds rather crass, but `tis true!), we must arm ourselves with information so that we aren’t caught off-guard when a death does occur. After all, we shouldn’t expect those involved in the funeral business to look after our bests interests; the bottom line is that they’re businesspeople who are concerned about their bottom lines! Educate yourself, and share your knowledge with your friends, your family, and anyone you know who’s in the unfortunate position of having to arrange a funeral or cremation.

Another excellent book that deals with this subject is “The American Way of Death Revisited,” by Jessica Mitford (to which Lisa Carlson contributed). Ms. Mitford deals with the subject in more of a muck-raking journalistic manner (as opposed to a consumer guide, as is “Caring for the Dead”), but it’s a highly informative analysis of the “American death” nonetheless. After developing a sense of the funeral industry’s antics in “Caring for the Dead,” you’ll appreciate Mitford’s dry wit and humor in “The American Way of Death Revisited.”

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Book Review: The Frugal Entrepreneur: Creative Ways to Save Time, Energy & Money in Your Business, Terri Lonier (1996)

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005

Worth a read, but don’t pay for it!

three out of five stars

The Frugal Entrepreneur” is truly a mixed bag of advice – most of the information is either very obvious or fairly useless, but there are a few tasty tidbits sprinkled throughout.

Some of the tips are pure common sense; for example, drop off your mail as opposed to having the shipping company pick it up, or use self-adhesive stamps on your outgoing mail. Others just consist of old adages, such as “measure twice, cut once.” Not exactly the sort of thing you should shell out money for – just visit mom and she’s sure to offer all this and more for free!

However, the author does throw in a few helpful tips that you might not have thought of on your own. Lonier advises readers to install a second residential phone line in their home office and then covert it to a business line later, thus saving a bundle in fees. While the ethics might be a bit questionable, it’s not a strategy that I would have been familiar with otherwise. Same goes for the advice to recycle old letterhead into smaller scratch pads, or to use your voice mail to record ideas that pop into your head when you’re away from the office.

If your local library carries this title, it might be worth your time to check out a copy out and thumb through it the next time you’re on hold or waiting in line at the post office. After all, what could be more frugal than utilizing the library as opposed to your credit card? Most everyone could learn a new trick or two from “The Frugal Entrepreneur,” but certainly not enough to justify actually paying for a new copy.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Book Review: One Hundred and One Ways to Save Money and Save Our Planet, B. Fleishhacker (1992)

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005

A fairly standard enviro guide

three out of five stars

101 Ways To Save Money and Save Our Planet” is one of a dozen or so “how to save money while saving the planet” guides that I’ve read in the past few months. I’m in the midst of conducting a thorough literature review for a book I’m writing on environmental issues, and I literally borrowed every relevant document I could find at my local library.

As far as these types of guides go, “101 Ways To Save Money” is pretty standard. It features 101 practical tips, grouped into several topics (Household & Garden, Energy & Water, Personal, Automotive, and Other), and arranged alphabetically. Most of the advice contained in environmental/financial how-to guides is fairly commonsensical and interchangeable, and “101 Ways To Save Money” is no exception. For example, the recommendations to use cloth napkins instead of paper towels or rechargeable batteries as opposed to non- rechargeables aren’t exactly groundbreaking. However, there are a few gems in this particular guide, including recipes for homemade, non-toxic household products, such as drain cleaner and furniture polish.

One caveat, however: the authors suggest using garlic as a flea repellant for your canine companions, but this is merely an old wives’ tale (I’ve also done extensive research into canine nutrition, and all the reputable resources I’ve read have refuted this claim). Though this is a minor error, it certainly doesn’t boost my confidence level in regards to the rest of the advice offered. I can’t say that I’ve run into any problems with any of the other information, though, so perhaps it was the lone mistake in the book.

The only other gripe I have with “101 Ways To Save Money” is the authors’ shoddy documentation of their references. At the end of the volume, they list two pages of sources that were “used to create this book.” Nonetheless, they fail to reference any of this material in the text of the book, so the readers have no way of knowing what information was pulled from which sources. This not only cheats the audience (i.e., we have no way of knowing which sources we should consult for additional information on any one given topic), but it deprives the authors of the credit that they rightfully deserve.

Finally, like most guides of this nature, the authors of “101 Ways To Save Money” make vague environmental claims without providing any documentation whatsoever. Although I consider myself an ardent environmentalist and heartily believe that we’re rapidly destroying the planet, I don’t see how such superficial and unreferenced arguments are going to convince non-environmentalists that there is a crisis (and that it’s our responsibility to address it). Though I understand that this wasn’t necessarily the aim of their book, I still think it behooves the authors to include a few scientific references in their bibliography in order to persuade the nonbelievers to heed their warnings.

For those who are already convinced that we need to “Save Our Planet,” “101 Ways” is a decent guide, but nothing special. If you already own one or more books on this topic, pass “101 Ways To Save Money” by – you probably won’t find anything new here.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Book Review: Beyond Recycling: A Re-user’s Guide: 336 Practical Tips to Save Money and Protect the Environment, Kathy Stein (1997)

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005

Another useful guide, but nothing groundbreaking

three out of five stars

During the course of researching an upcoming book on environmental issues, I’ve been required to read a number of practical guides on saving money while protecting the environment. Many of these books follow the same cookie-cutter format: group the advice into themes, for example, room-by-room; begin each entry with a vague overview of the dilemma; present advice to help stem the problem; and conclude by offering a list of additional resources. “Beyond Recycling” is no exception: its tips are grouped in an encyclopedic format, with entries organized A to Z; each section begins by briefly describing the environmental issue in one to four short paragraphs, then counters with several tips to help combat the problem; and usually ends with a few “Helpful Resources” that interested readers can follow up on.

The author succeeds in providing her audience with “336 Practical Tips” to “Save Money and Protect the Environment.” The book is a good resource for those who want quick, practical, and efficient tips to conserve cash and help the planet. The entries are nicely organized so that information can be found quickly and without much searching. Although the grouping of the tips is self-explanatory, Ms. Stein really should have included an index as well, as some of the advice could be given more than one title, and some of the entries deal with more than one issue/activity. However, this is a minor point, particularly since the volume is relatively short and straightforward.

A bigger complaint I have with this guide (and most other environmental “how-to” books) is the author’s failure to document her claims. Although I consider myself an avid environmentalist and have no doubts that we’re steadily spoiling the earth, I’m also wise enough to acknowledge that many of my peers don’t share my sentiments (isn’t that why we’re in this mess?). While those who are already concerned with environmental issues might not question these sort of general, unreferenced statements, such arguments won’t succeed in convincing more skeptical readers that there is indeed a problem that needs to be addressed. Of course, I realize that these types of guides are targeted at the former audience, but it would be a nice bonus if “nature nerds” such as myself could also use them to persuade our disbelieving friends and family.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)