I’m in between classes right now so I have a few weeks of relative freedom; that means I get to actually pick what I read for three short weeks. While searching through the library shelves for another “fun” read, I come across Sleeping Naked is Green. The title, obviously, encouraged me to stop searching, pull the book out and give it a look.
The description on the book jacket piqued my interest, so I decided I’d given it shot. Written by Vanessa Farquharson, an arts reporter and film critic for the National Post, the book chronicles her efforts to take an action a day to green her life for an entire year.
In fact, she first chronicled her efforts in a blog she started to record her daily challenges called Green as a Thistle. The book is not simply a collection of blog posts, but sort of a behind the scenes look at the making of the blog throughout the year. While many of the most interesting green challenges and stories are retold, they are accompanied by personal insights and other stories about the stories. The wit, pop-cultural references and self-deprecation that blog readers had grown to love are definitely present in the book.
Vanessa begins her year of green after having an epiphany of sorts. Her fast-paced, trendy, big city lifestyle was not a model of green living. In February of 2007, she realizes that she wants something different. Vanessa’s finding Gaia moment leaves her wondering what “real people” can do. As she so thoughtfully puts it “When it comes to the green movement, everyone from politicians to musicians talks about what should be done. But no one seems to be talking about what all this doing actually entails”. In short – she wonders what someone like her could actually do to have a positive impact, or more correctly, reduce their impact.
Eco-Cynicism: Bridget Jones Meets Al Gore
This tension between what should be done and what the average person could be reasonably expected to do is the core theme of the book and one that really resonates with me as I endeavor to green our life. This healthy dose of cynicism provides a “practically lens” through which green ideas can be evaluated. It grounds the challenges and for many it keeps the whole project realistic and approachable (even after she sells her beloved car and stops using her fridge). It also adds a lot of fun and humor to the read. One Amazon reviewer referred to Sleeping Naked is Green as “Bridget Jones meets Al Gore”. Frankly – I can’t think of a better description. That’s the essence of this book.
On the final day of her challenge, Vanessa reflects on her year of green and realizes that not only has she made changes in her own life, but that through her, many of her friends and family have also made changes to the way they live and reduced their ecological footprint. She also realizes that through her blog, she has provided useful greening information and more importantly inspiration for thousands of other people.
The impact that Vanessa had (and continues to have through the legacy of her blog and this book) is wonderful example of local leadership. By changes in her own life, she has inspired others to change and do better.
Sleeping Naked is Green – Worth the Read
I was looking for a light read to spend some of my school break and this book provided just that. If you’re looking for hard hitting analysis of the impact of our modern world, or are looking for a practical guide for greening your life, then this isn’t for you. If you’re already into pocket composting and are annoyed by the fact that others aren’t – this book is most definitely not for you. Just walk away.
However, if you’re interested to learn more about what this “green thing” is all about – or if you’re looking for some moral support as you make some green changes, then pick this book up. If you’ve ever felt a pang of eco-guilt as you waited in the drive-thru line at Tim Horton’s with your car idling but feel helpless to do anything about it – then read this book. If you already wear bamboo shirts, hemp pants, Birkenstocks and drink locally grown herbal teas on your bike commute to the handmade soap shop your worker co-op runs, but are amused by watching others “see the light” – then you’ll like this one too.
Reading Sleeping Naked is Green has left me feeling a bit inspired. Not only is it a pretty solid case study in local leadership – but it served as an example of what can be done with a little blog. After years of academic and business writing – my style is pretty dry and lifeless as times. Vanessa’s writing is most definitely not. It was great to see how a touch of personality can make these topics fun and approachable. I’m going to try and bring more of that to my blog. You have been forewarned.