Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Green book review: What Has Nature Ever Done For Us by Tony Juniper

There ain't no such thing as free lunch. This notion that Harvard economist Greg Mankiw described as "to get one thing that we like, we usually have to give up another thing that we like. Making decisions requires trading off one goal against another" is mostly true, but we tend to forget about it when it comes to natural capital.  

Yet, this is wrong, very wrong, as nature provides the 'natural services' that keep the economy going, explains Tony Juniper in his new book. Why? This important book written by one of the top 10 environmental figures of the last 30 years explains it, and it is our pleasure to have it on this week's green book review:

What Has Nature Ever Done For Us?: How Money Really Does Grow on Trees by Tony Juniper with a Foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales (publisher: Synergetic Press) 

What this book is about?
During recent years, and since 2005 in particular, the environmental debate worldwide has been dominated by climate change, carbon emissions and efforts to achieve low carbon economies. But a number of academic, technical, political, business and NGO initiatives indicate that there is a new wave of environmental attention focused on a wholly different set of subjects: namely that of 'natural capital,' 'ecosystem services' and 'biodiversity,' or in other words, what Nature does for us.

From Indian Vultures to Chinese bees and from recycling miracles in the soil to the abundant genetic codebook underpinning our food and pharmaceutical needs, Nature provides the 'ecosystem services' that underlie our economies. It is been estimated that these and other services are worth about twice the global GDP, and yet we take most of these services for granted, imagining them free and limitless- until they suddenly switch off.

This is a book full of immediate, impactful stories, containing warnings, such as the rabies epidemic that followed a disappearance of Indian vultures (hormones in cattle killed the birds and resulted surplus in carcasses, creating an explosion of wild dogs), as well as promising and enlightening tales of how birds protect fruit harvests, coral reefs shield coasts from storms and how the rainforests absorb billions of tons of carbon released from automobiles and power stations. Tony Juniper's book will change the whole way you think about life, the planet and the economy.

About the author:
Tony Juniper is a campaigner, writer, sustainability adviser and a well-known British environmentalist. For more than 25 years he has worked for change toward a more sustainable society at local, national and international levels. From providing ecology and conservation experiences for primary school children, to making the case for new recycling laws, to orchestrating international campaigns for action on rainforests and climate change, his work has sought change at many levels. Juniper presently works as a Special Adviser to the Prince of Wales Charities' International Sustainability Unit. For more info, visit 

Our review:
This book, What Has Nature Ever Done For Us, by Tony Juniper was an interesting read. It has many stories that are very current today in our drive to retain our world and the creatures within it. We, humans, tend to see immediate consequences to our actions, but I think most of us tend to forget about the long term consequences. The stories within the pages of this book bring them front and center, and make them hard to ignore. As an added perk the book is written in an easy to read and understand format.

The author also keeps you interested and turning the pages as the stories and events are told in a manner that I found to be compelling and entertaining. Some of the events I was quite aware of all ready before reading the book, but the author found more information and more background to add to what I already knew. I liked that a lot. It wasn’t just a quick fact dump either. Instead it was a comprehensive telling of the events and the story behind them. I really enjoyed this read.

There were a few sections I found to be a bit wordy and long, but that is my only real complaint. Anyone interested in our environment and in the world we live, I think will find use of this book. The more versed in this area may not get as much out of it as the newer people, but I still recommend it all the same.

The book is available on in both hardcover and paperback formats.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New book, Moonpennies by Alanna Rosette is going green with Eco-Libris!

We're happy to announce on a new collaboration with author Alanna Rosette on her first book Moonpennies. 100 trees will be planted with Eco-Libris to green up this great summer read, which is right now available in an electronic format on Amazon.

So what's Moonpennies about? Here are more details on the book:

About the book:

Lina Daniels was eleven years old when her mother divulged that true love doesn't exist and heartbreak is inevitable. Now a late-twenties struggling writer, Lina is terrified of opening her heart to anyone. She fumbles through life, battling bouts of depression and avoiding real relationships at all costs...until one too many glasses of wine at a New Year's Eve party undermines her resolve. 

She ends up in the arms of an irresistible prospect and decides to give love a chance. 

The better judgment of her best friends tells her he's not the right guy. But finding the courage to fall in love is only the beginning of Lina's journey. Uncharted risks and bold mistakes open her eyes to a life-changing realization. She may learn her mother was right about the certainty of heartbreak. Yet she may also find that true love does exist, and it makes the heartbreak worthwhile.

About the author: 
Alanna Rosette is a writer across various mediums of fiction and non-fiction. Copywriter by day, but of course, fiction is her favorite.She enjoys writing prose but also have an affinity for visual storytelling, and thus love screenwriting, too. "It sounds cliche, but hey, it's true...I've been writing since I was a kid and don't plan on ever stopping. I do it because I love it," she writes. 

You can follow her on twitter and find her on Facebook as well.

You can purchase Moonpennies on (electronic format is available).


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

7 reasons we need paper more than ever

This is a guest post written by Fritha Strickland, Head of Blogs at Eco Market
Spiral Recycled Note Pad
Every week of every month for the last decade, writers in publications scattered all over the world have confidently announced the death of paper. Amazon's Kindle is released - and books are labelled defunct. Mobile phone notetaking apps are killing moleskines. After 79 years in print, Newsweekmagazine goes digital-only, so it's only a matter of time before everything else does. What's wrong with this doom & gloom argument? Simple - paper is still everywhere. For example, despite Kindle's sky-rocketing popularity, Amazon is expanding its print publishing empire - and Moleskine just went IPO.

Paper is not dead - it's thriving. Here's why:
"Paper has turned out to be tenacious. This is because paper is awesome."
- Tim Maly, Wired.

Here are 7 reasons why we still need this awesome piece of technology in our lives.
1. We Remember Things Better
Ever put pen to paper and felt like you were capturing your thoughts a little differently? It may all be in your head, but it’s not just your imagination. Studies suggest that the physical act of writing by hand gives us a greater focus on the meaning behind our words, making handwriting a more effective tool for learning than typing. Remember the age-old school punishment of ‘writing lines’? If you want something etched deep into your memory…grab a sheet of paper and punish yourself.
2. We're Less Hasty
How often in modern life are we told to slow down while we’re working? Productivity is all about speed - and with speed comes carelessness, typos, glaring holes in our arguments and laugh-out-loud clunkers. All very well when you’re writing for yourself or friends, but at work (or study) that can be a professional disaster. Enter your own personal editor: paper. The act of first-drafting by hand is usually enough to iron out the most stubborn typos, partly because your subconscious has a better vocabulary than you do. (Test this out next time you don’t know how to spell a word: write as many variations as you can, and hunt for the one that “looks right.”) Handwritten first drafts also force us to immerse ourselves in what we’re writing about, for the reasons outlined in (1). It’ll take longer, but using paper will make your words (and the thinking behind them) much stronger.
3. We Feel It Differently
Ever smelled an old book? That cocktail of musty paper, the air of countless page-turnings, and the deep, rich tang of time itself? Ever seen people in the British Library lusting over old books? Ever pined for a really nice fountain pen? Ever wondered where all that emotion has gone in the age of the digital book? It' possible that with the advent of e-paper and touchscreens we’ve lost a little of our passion and reverence for the physical act of reading and write. Paper isn’t just a completely blank canvas - it’s a personal statement. Pull out some hemp stationery and you’re saying “I care about where this stuff comes from - also, feel that texture, it’s amaaaaazing.”
4. We're Quicker On The Draw
If you’re one of the super-fast-fingered iPhone elite, this may not apply to you…but for the rest of us, gadgets take time. They need waking up or turning on, they need a few second for their apps to load, and they need to wait while we stab ineffectually at the screen in some mistake-riddled parody of typing. Whatever the combination of delays, they are slower than using a pen and a piece of paper - and even today, there’s little quicker than speedwriting.

Power socket
5. We Never Have To Stop
Your best thoughts run on a 24-hour schedule, but battery power is finite. If you forget to charge up, you could be left without the tools to jot down ideas, make notes, and the million other ways we use technology to jog our memories. Worse, our peace of mind is disrupted by our remaining battery power. Less than 50%? Nervously chew lip. Less than 20%? Dim the screen, shut down unnecessary apps, start panicking. Electrical devices enslave our mood in subtle ways - but paper? Paper is always ready for business. The only power source it needs is a human brain.
6. We Tidy Up The Planet
It’s nice to think of a world where we don’t need to keep churning out new paper - and in a way, we’re living in that world right now. Putting aside the future for a minute - the modern world is full of waste paper, and the more that can be used of it, the fewer trees will need to be cut down. It’s been estimated that half the world’s paper being recycled would produce the same amount of paper as 20 million acres of forestland. Leading recycling firms like The Green Stationery Company (creators of the Evolution recycled paper line) believe that recycled fibre should be the priority for any paper-consuming company wanting to help the environment. If more waste paper can be put back into production, it encourages investment in recycling technologies that will continually strive to close the sustainability loop.
Planted sapling
7. We're Futureproofing Sustainable Industries
 There’s the other side to the recycling argument, and it’s all about the future. Done right, paper is a renewable resource, and that presents green entrepreneurs with an opportunity to make customers care about a mass-produced product that’s not hollowing out the environment. Virgin papermaking uses a lot of resources (water, energy, bleacing agents etc.) so the way we make paper should constantly be evolving. Right now hemp is a very attractive alternative to wood pulp (and here's why). The smarter we are at making paper, the better it's going to be for our environment - and the best time to start refining that process is now.

Images:  a.driantheilrjnyemb and USFS Region 5.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Green book review: The Zero Footprint Baby by Keya Chatterjee

Babies and sustainability should go hand in hand - after all, sustainability is all about "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

But how do you do it when your new baby has just been born and taking care of the new baby seems nothing but sustainable (take the waste diapers generate for example)? The book we review today has some answers for current and future parents who want to know how to do it right.

The book we review today is:

The Zero Footprint Baby: How to Save the Planet While Raising a Healthy Baby by Keya Chatterjee (publisher: Ig Publishing)

What this book is about?

In our culture, pregnancy, birth, and childrearing are deeply connected to consumption and resource use. From the baby shower to the minivan and the larger apartment or first house, the baby-raising years are the most hyper-consumptive of our lives, and can set a family on an unsustainable track for years to come. 

The Zero Footprint Baby: How to Save the Planet While Raising a Healthy Baby shows how to raise a child with little to no carbon footprint. This timely book covers every issue new parents face, including pregnancy (what kind of birth has the lowest impact?); what to feed your baby (breastfeed, formula, or both?); childcare (who should take care of the baby, and how?); and of course, diapering. Using a mix of personal anecdotes, summarized research, and clear guidance on how to pursue the most sustainable baby-rearing options, environmental expert and new mom Keya Chatterjee has authored the ultimate resource for all new parents with green inclinations.

About the author:
Keya Chatterjee is a Senior Director for Renewable Energy and Footprint Outreach at the World Wildlife Fund. Her commentary on climate change policy and sustainability issues has been quoted in dozens of media outlets, including USA Today, the New York Times, Fox News, the Associated Press, The Washington Post, and NBC Nightly News. She has also served as a Climate Change Specialist at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and worked at the NASA Earth Science Enterprise. She lives in Washington DC with her husband and son. For more info, visit:

Our review:
I found this book interesting and even fun at times. Some of the ideas I thought were very useful and would be easy to put into practice, and then others bordered on absurd. Then there were the ideas that were fascinating to my mind, but not all that reasonable in the long run. One of my favorites though was the toilet sink. The water used in the sink, filters into the tank of the toilet, and then is used as the flushing water. This is ingenious, why had I not heard of it before?  Why do we need clean water to flush with? I can get behind this all the way. 

There are also some ideas that I found ridiculous. Maybe I don’t have the right mind-set. Maybe I am not doing enough to lower my carbon use. There are definitely some things that I can change and am willing to try and change. However, I am not one to put my children at risk in the process. Some of the things in this book I feel have the potential to do that.

As to the writing itself, I found the authors tone to be a bit condescending. Had a bit of the ‘this is why I am awesome’ kind of thing going on. It seemed even a bit insulting at times to me. For instance, one of the ways to cut down carbon use is to recycle (obviously), which includes clothing. The author spoke of all the people that graciously gave her their used maternity clothes, but then complained that these same people had the nerve, the very gall, to share their pregnancy and birthing stories with her. How dare they want to share with her? At first I took this as her shot at humor, but then it didn’t seem all that funny to me.  

All in all, the book is sound. I liked its contents and the information provided. I did. It’s a wonderful book to get parents, or expecting parenting, or planning to be expecting parents to think about their carbon footprint now, not after it’s too late. I suggest reading it, and then taking from it what you can.

The book is available on Amazon in both electronic and paperback formats.