Monday, October 20, 2014

Review - Save the planet & stuff

Review of "Save the planet & stuff" by Gail Gauthier
I recently had the pleasure of reading Save the planet & stuff by Gail Gauthier.

Save the planet & stuff is an environmental fiction. It's geared toward young adults and offers readers a delightful comedy about a typical teenage boy from the city who accepts a summer job in Maine with two of his grandparents' elderly, Eco-dedicated friends.

Let's take a look at the book's trailer:






The clash between generations and lifestyles gives the book a solid premise. It's hilarious when Michael has to endure the absence of air conditioning and finds himself living in a cabin with no television and limited hot water.

Michael's job at The Earth's Wife, an environmental magazine, brings him together with a cast of interesting characters and situations. There's Todd, the managing editor, who isn't everything he seems. Teenage Amber catches Michael's eye ... he wants to know more about her and she wants to know his thoughts on composting toilets. Roberta, a photographer, becomes Michael's friend and mentor ... until he finds out who she is. And then there's Walt and Nora. Walt "flips off" truck drivers who work for companies that he doesn't approve of. Nora is a loving person who cares for her household, the earth.

My thoughts on Save the planet & stuff


The story and characters are believable. I could definitely feel Michael's anxiety at being tossed into a strange set of circumstances and Walt and Nora's frustration at a world which isn't doing enough to save the earth.

The book carries a strong environmental message without being obvious. In fact, I got caught up in the story and while protecting the planet was a central theme, I didn't feel that I was being preached to ... I was simply enjoying a story which happened to include environmentalists.

Who will enjoy Save the planet & stuff?


This book is especially great for pre-teens and teens who will be able to relate to Michael. The story is also wonderful for adults, of all ages, as it touches on the challenges of living life as a "greenie", in a fun and interesting way.

I liked the book ... and think you will, too!


Review - Save the planet & stuff by Gail Gauthier
Gail Gauthier, author of
Save the planet & stuff
Gail Gauthier is the author of eight books. Her books have been nominated for readers' choice awards in six states, and published in foreign editions in Italy, Germany, France, and Japan. She has spoken in schools in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, as well as at professional conferences for teachers, librarians, and writers.




You can get your copy of Save the planet & stuff by clicking HERE.


I received a copy of "Save the planet & stuff" in order to write this review. I received no other compensation. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and reflect my honest opinion of the material reviewed.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Would you conserve if you had solar power?


Would you conserve if you had solar power?
The sun provides energy
Our new home will be solar powered.

As a "greenie", I am "geared" towards conservation. We turn off lights, use little or no heating/cooling, etc.

I spoke to someone who has solar power and they commented that they don't conserve energy.

That got me thinking and is the basis of this survey:


Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Monitors

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:


Last week we took a serious look at our expenditures, categorizing each based on need versus want. One might think that this task is easy, but it's not. "Need" is a subjective concept. While we can all agree that we need certain things to survive, there are varying opinions on the necessity of pleasing ourselves via an item purchased, or smart buying (buying when things are on sale). There's also the question of replacing an item which operates but isn't energy-efficient, and purchases which make us more marketable in today's job market. Clearly, the line between needs and wants is anything but clear. Let's see how the Honor Society did with this challenge.

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

Clare joined us and shared this comments: "I think everyone who lives green does this fairly regularly, and as a general rule I think we tend to buy less than the average consumer. But I appreciate this challenge because we can always do more. I found that as soon as I simplified my life – got rid of the clutter, moved to a small house, and stopped entertaining (except for the small informal gatherings that we really want to do), I purchase less and less. When it comes to need vs want, I do the same as EveryWeekIsGreen and keep a list. Most things fall off it. I also often think, yes, I want that skin moisturizer, but I don’t want the chemicals in it. So I’ll make my own beauty products instead. http://www.ecofriendlylink.com/blog/homemade-beauty-products-lemons. Similarly if I’m feeling under-the-weather I’ll initially think I want some medication, then I’ll remember I don’t want the chemicals so I’ll make my own (lemons work for many ailments http://www.ecofriendlylink.com/blog/lemons-cure). What I found initially was that if I refused to buy something because I didn’t need it (just wanted it), making something from pure, natural ingredients was not only healthier but also made sure I didn’t feel in any way “deprived”(which is probably something else advertisers have taught us). Recently I had a lovely birthday – my husband asked me what I wanted and I told him I truly didn’t need a single thing, it’s really powerful to be able to say that, and I’ve said it for many years now. So we took some time off and meandered over the island and enjoyed the peace and views. Yes, we did have some champagne (that was a want, not a need!), but an occasional treat does us all good. Thanks Small, and I’m delighted your family is doing well and that you are back safe and sound."

Deborah accepted this challenge and said, "Re: CTWW This week, before spending any money, I considered whether the purchase was a"need", a very important "want" which supports a need, or simply a "want"--and it was really quite easy for me because I have simplified my life and become very frugal with regards to shopping. My purchases are generally all needs--primarily the weekly plant-based, vegan staples and fresh produce that I buy from our local farmer's market or health food store. I no longer "shop til I drop" for the latest shoes and clothing fashions--which would definitely constitute a want. When I do determine that I have a reasonable "want" I go to my local thrift shop, donate clothing that I no longer wear and buy secondhand jeans, for example, insead of new. When I wanted a book to read I went to the public library and borrowed it, instead of buying it.I do "need" dental work so that has been something that I have had to invest i however I try to reduce my "need" to spend money on medical bills and medicine by living a preventive lifestyle, reducing toxins, eating organic food, drinking filtered water and focusing on wellness. I love this challenge because it is important to think about and avoid over-consumption and excess!"

Lisa makes an interesting point about how buying unnecessarily can prevent us from buying earth-friendly, healthy products. It's an eye-opening idea! In Prioritizing Needs and Wants she offers four solid reasons why prioritizing is important.

Mrs. Green wrote You’re trashing 99% of the stuff you buy – This one question will help you stop where she offers a great tool for determining wants versus needs. She also speaks to the idea that unnecessary expenditures can lead to more expenditures. For example, buying unhealthy food can cause one's health to suffer which would then require money spent on medical care, medicine, transportation to the health facility, etc.

In Need vs Want: Help the Earth, Laurel says that buying unnecessary stuff contributes to cluttering up our lives. She offers us 15 questions which will help us decide whether to buy or not. They include ideas like "Will it make life more bearable, easier, happier?"

Cinella gave this challenge a "thumbs up": " this is a great challenge!".

Lois wrote Change the World Wednesday, I Need It where she talks about unusual purchasing situations when remodelling a home. One of her dilemmas involves a large refrigerator which came with the house. It's too big for her use which means unnecessary energy expenditures but is buying a new one really necessary? Read her post to find out what she decided to do.

Aimee joined us and said this: " Great and very timely post. My husband & I are overhauling our entire backyard and garden, and were contemplating investing in cedar for raised beds as the Rebuilding Center here didn't have what we needed, and that exact question came up - do we NEED to buy all that lumber? Or can we just plant it in the ground? Or can we buy the wood LATER? Sometimes we just want things when we want it, ya know, when we often can hold off on purchases. And when we hold off, we often find other ways to solve the supposed problem that needs resolution :) "

Mary stopped in and shared this: "Glad everything is okay and that your mother is doing better! Great challenge though! I like how you also factor in the very important wants since it's not so black and white! This will be interesting to think about!"

Joanna accepted our task and said this: "Hi, I love this challenge! I've been keeping a 'wish list' for a few months now. If something's not 'essential', as you say, I write it down and review my list every month or two. If something pops up on my list on multiple months then I might buy it. It's great to give myself some distance from what I want to buy; there are so many things that I would've bought but didn't because I lost interest after a while. On the other hand, I've realised which are the items I genuinely want because I write them down every month (e.g. I bought running shoes to help keep my feet injury-free when I run, and a hi-vis vest so I don't get knocked down when I run in the dark. Both are items I felt that were necessary if I want to continue running). Great to have a reminder of how good it is to evaluate your spending habits regularly :) "

In Change the World Wednesday – 8th Oct, Argentum Vulgaris divulges his one indulgence. Can you guess what it is? He also talks about how he shops and shares a handy tool for ensuring that purchases are well made.

Our Twitter friend, @lbpaints, joined us and shared the following:

- Re-purposed pallet bookcase #saturdayrecycling #CTWW pic.twitter.com/QjQgRHLEc4
- Home and pool made from recycled shipping containers #saturdayrecycling #CTWW pic.twitter.com/F6yrXOOVtR
- Re-claimed wood stairs #Saturdayrecycling #CTWW pic.twitter.com/LJrLJblQkC
- Reclaimed shipping container garden structure #saturdayrecycling #CTWW pic.twitter.com/jZHRxRqI4N
- Keep calm.... #saturdayrecycling #CTWW ;-) pic.twitter.com/tJhQQR0Km4

The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@89linz @allcollegeplan @almosttruth
@amorytabaee @andreaptak @andthenitmooned
@annfinster @apoenagi @artbysandra
@aussiemoose @backyardforest @beatepdx
@bethcooperart @biculturalmama @biggreenpen
@bike2power @blockmomnc @blukatdesign
@cannyhighlander @cellomomoncars @cherylsd7
@cjrthemamiblog @cochranesustain @collegegogreen
@comusetravels @corneliagracchi @cptww
@csevenm_uk @debsmikdav1 @dehelen
@djdashzimbabwe @eco_novice @ecoexpert1
@factorydpromos @familyfocusblog @fleurdeb
@foggybottomgal @forloveofadog @freshcleanersaz
@georgehenry47 @ginavalley @givetreegifts
@grandmasdiaries @greenglobaltrvl @greenqueenofmod
@groovygreenlivi @herbgir1972 @hyeoksshi
@iamthelab @jnjgogreen @kaitlingarder
@kayelleallen @kayhahn1 @kriswetherbee
@krmbalclothing @laalicia @ladyjcmuses
@laralvira90 @laurelhounslow @lbpaints
@leslieveg @litartmagazine @luthienthye
@maleaab @mamasmoney @marbaird
@marjoriemcatee @mecheshier @mimibarbour
@moha_doha @momgamerwriter @momsmadhousex6
@myzerowaste @mzazeela @nikidanforth
@nolafusion @organicweave @p2pnyc
@pedalgadgets @rach_loh @rainbojangles
@rckweddings @realityarts @respiro
@romerojewelers @ruggieri88 @ruralmoms
@sdcdm320 @sergiobellotti @sfcouncil
@shiraaichan @sjoecable @sketchingkari
@spafloating @spookmore @starcreations
@suppressthis @sydweedon @terenceflyntz
@theworld4realz @thomasfelicett1 @treesgroup
@turningclockbac @twtfiona @ultimate_social
@urban_mining @visionaryvalues @waifro
@wanki_m @wencdj @whatsnxt4mylife
@whywelovegreen @wikanikowings @withuvip
@workathomemiss @yatrblog

My Final Thoughts:

Living a green life doesn't mean that we deny ourselves luxury items, show up at a job interview in sweats, or hang on to an old energy-inefficient appliance. It does mean that we consider the bigger picture, the ramifications of each purchase. Everything we buy is manufactured using natural resources. After the manufacturing process, the item is packaged and shipped. When we take an item off the shelf, it signals manufacturers to create more and the cycle continues. In some cases, buying an item forces us to buy more stuff and begins an unfortunate chain of spending events. This makes the true cost of an item quite high. In my opinion, too high!

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Monitors
A screensaver which shows
any image on the screen
doesn't save energy at all
How many of us just leave monitors on whenever the computer is on? Did you know that they use a LOT of energy?

A LCD monitor uses between 20-40 watts of electricity ... a CRT version uses approximately 80 watts.

Laptops run off of batteries but if we allow our monitors to shine brightly for any length of time, the battery will quickly need recharging.

Desktops have no battery so leaving the monitor running wastes electricity.

Here's your challenge ...

This week, reduce the brightness of your monitor to the lowest level you can comfortably stand. Even lowering it one or two "notches" will help. Then, set the energy saving preferences to turn off the display (yes, turn it off rather than use a screen saver) when dormant for a short time (2-15 minutes). Do the same thing on mobile devices to extend their battery life.

Are you ready to fine tune your computer's energy use? I know that you are!

Until next time ...

WE'RE CHANGING THE WORLD ... ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME!