Regardless of your New Year’s resolution, 2009 will be a year for change -- economic change, governmental change and, us willing, a change for the greener. And Jodi Helmer’s The Green Year has 365 ideas to help you reach your green goals. Eco-friendlier than The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and more educational than a Dilbert desk calendar, The Green Year contains a year’s worth of tips to help green your lifestyle, one day at a time.
Every day of the year finds a new idea, from recycling your Christmas tree on January 1, to filling your second-hand menorah with soy candles toward the year’s end (spoiler alert: the book ends with December). The ideas suggested range from small projects to slightly-less-small projects. On some days the author suggests researching larger scale changes, but only goes as far as that first step -- the rooftop garden and eco-friendly computer, it seems, may have to wait until that 366th day or later. That is, after all, how people change -- by making small alterations and saving up for the big ones. And it just so happens to be the book’s subtitle: 365 Small Things You Can Do to Make a Big Difference. And I’d wager to say that a gazillion little green gestures over a twelve-month period work out to be the equivalent of more than six earth-shatteringly (or, in this case, earth-repairingly) major changes. (Don’t quote me, the math is approximate.)
The tips are crafty and seasonally appropriate -- for winter, spring, summer and back-to-school -- and Helmer presents them in a way that’s easy to incorporate into daily life. Next to the date on each page is a little circle where readers can check off activities as they’re completed, and beneath each suggestion is a space where readers can write in modifications that better suit them. Most of the ideas cost nothing to put to use, like using an old sock to dust around the house or resetting the blade on your lawnmower, and those that cost more than a few dollars have a greater return than what’s put in.
Helmer’s writing is clever and easily accessible, if the ideas themselves are not super-fresh. Some of the ideas we’ve heard many times before, some of them are just pure common sense, but it can’t be denied that they are all good ideas. (And let’s face it: Some of us need to be told a good idea several times before we start to implement it. I, for one, am a huge proponent of badgering people into environmental friendliness.) Still, some of the suggestions are startlingly novel -- and more brilliant than a thousand fluorescent light bulbs (for instance, when I read September 17 -- skip an oil change -- you could have knocked me over with a sock-cum-feather duster).
Once you’ve started your compost pile, and lowered the setting of your water heater and sealed your windows -- once you’ve lived The Green Year, you’ll be ready to pass those recycled pages on to another and start the new new year on a new, green leaf.