Friday, January 29, 2010

Go Green, Save Green

Earlier this week, I was inspired by Amy's post about tackling "nagging" tasks. While I wish the following hadn't become a nagging task, I finally felt motivated to get it done. To what am I referring? Last year, right before Natalie was born, I read a book titled Go Green, Save Green by Nancy Sleeth. It was very informative and practical, and I really wanted to process it and share it with all of you.

There are way too many tips in this book to highlight in a single post, so I'll just share some of my favorite ideas and quotes:

I love the prayer in the introduction of the book, which was written by the author's husband, Dr. Matthew Sleeth: "Give me a thankful heart, and free me from my wasteful habits." Amen!

The book is divided into 11 chapters that address various areas of our lives such as home, entertainment, school, church and community. In the chapter about "greening" our homes, Sleeth's simple and straightforward plan is to "consume less, save more." She includes a list of no-cost changes we can make to save both energy and money, such as doing laundry in cold water, adjusting the thermostat 3 degrees up/down depending on the season, and reducing shower time by just two minutes. This chapter also inspired Eric and me to sign up for an energy audit for our home, a topic which I will save for a separate post.

Nancy shares a list of household items that total about $100 in initial cost but are an investment for saving in other ways: 10 reusable grocery bags, 1 water filter pitcher (to encourage drinking H20 instead of other beverages), 2 spray bottles for mixing homemade cleaners, 5 CFL bulbs (we gave these to our dads and brother-in-law for Christmas this past year), 2 low-flow showerheads, 10 handkerchiefs (eww, I haven't gotten to this point yet!), 2 power strips (to decrease your use of phantom energy), and 1 furnace filter. (Later in the book, she suggests packaging some of these items together to make a practical wedding gift, which I think is a neat idea!)

Another awesome aspect of this book is that each chapter ends with a checklist for ways to reduce consumption and save money, followed by ideas for sharing some of your savings with others in a relevant way. For example, in the chapter about food, Sleeth suggests you bake your own bread and grow garden produce. With some of your financial surplus, you could donate to an organization that fights malnutrition or a ministry that seeks to provide clean water in impoverished areas. Very cool.

Love this quote, which was actually taken from Serve God, Save the Planet: "Our relationship to God's gifts can be one of entitlement, ignorance and gluttony, or one of praise, thanks and temperance." That last word is the one that really hit home with me while reading this book--temperance: avoiding excess, using resources in moderation, showing self-restraint.

The transportation chapter was enlightening for me, as it's not something I think about very much. Sleeth writes that driving an SUV that gets 13 mpg for one year wastes more energy than leaving the refrigerator door open for 6 years or the bathroom light on for 30 years! She also listed a site where you can evaluate the energy efficiency of your current car. I looked up both of our cars, and you can see the corresponding data if you're interested by clicking here.

You might be surprised that a book on green living contains a chapter about honoring the Sabbath. But as Sleeth states, we must shift our focus "from productivity to rest, success to service, material gain to spiritual good, and from the god of money to the God of love." She says that of all the steps her family has taken in the area of environmental stewardship, honoring the Sabbath has given them the most joy! They don't run errands, they have a simple noon meal of soup and bread and they restrict their use of technology. Definitely food for thought.

I hope you've read thus far--I know this post went all over the place, and I just made a drop in the bucket in regards to sharing about the book, but that's an appropriate metaphor for my own green journey! I'm glad I finally (smile) got around to writing this review. I enjoyed skimming the book again, and hope some of you will check it out!


Mom said...

Dear Carrie,
I remember reading this book when I was there last March when Miss Natalie was born and am glad to read this review. The chapter about the Sabbath is what has stayed with me the longest! I would be interested to read the book again. Thanks for the reminders about some of the ideas and wisdom presented in this gem of a book! Love you, Mom

Katie said...


Thanks so much for sharing this book ~ I enjoyed the first one you recommended by this husband's author a while back, so I am interested in borrowing this one from the library as well. You know, since I've been following your blog ~ you've inspired me to dig into this "stewardship" of our resources quite a bit. I look around our home and see what I can reuse in different ways. For instance, this year, I've had a lot of fun using (and decorating!) tin cans as containers for pencils, crayons, markers, pens, etc..., reusing jars and boxes for other storage and gift ideas... I would love to read what this book has to suggest in that regard. I really appreciate the fact that these authors are reverent of God and giving Him the credit and glory to motivate us to action on this topic. Thanks again for a great review!

Enjoy your weekend!

angie said...

So many good quotes in your post--I can only imagine there are many more in the book. I will add it to my library list.
We are really reducing waste in our home. So far, it has been 3 weeks since we have taken our trash can to the curb. My son is doing an experiment to see how long before it is filled to the top.

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

I enjoyed this post. And I'm with you on the handkerchief thing. Ewww! I have thought, at times, that we should switch from using paper napkins to cloth ones. One of these days, I may actually make the switch, especially as it seems like paper napkins are becoming more and more expensive.

I read Serve God, Save the Planet on your recommendation and enjoyed it very much. I may use it eventually in a lesson for our youth group. They're pretty aware of being eco-friendly and whatnot, but I don't think it's taught much from a Godly perspective, especially as having respect for what God gave us.

Don't get me started on fuel-efficiency. I'm an Oil Baby, so I'm all too aware of oil consumption and the dying oil industry. I get very angry at the attitudes of entitlement that many people harbor when it comes to gas-guzzling SUVs. Most people think, "Well, I can afford the gas, so who cares what I drive?" But my issue is with the consumption of more that one's fair share of world resources.

Of course, I may be a bit hypocritical, as my husband has to drive 20 miles or so into Dallas every day for work. But he drives our most fuel-efficient car to do so...

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

My library doesn't have this book. I'm open to buying it. Would you recommend that? On a scale of 1-10 how useful would you rate it?

(Obviously I answered my question of "have you read anything this guy wrote?)