This is Not a Drill – An Extinction Rebellion Handbook

This Is Not A Drill

I would probablly call this book a manifesto for Extinction Rebellion. In short, it’s a series of essays relating the effects of climate change, followed by a series of essays regarding what we can do about it. Rather than pointing out the changes needed on an individual level – like most of the other environmental books I’ve read – this one speaks about system change.

The first point I would like to make about the book is how full of love it is. Whilst it covers some absolutely heartbreaking topics, the underlying feeling is one of hope, of optimism, and a genuine desire to create a world that is powered by arts and education and in which care is valued as it should be.

That said, my favourite quote from the book comes from the essay titled ‘We are not prepared to die’, by Mohamed Nasheed:

Let us not forget what we owe to decent, working people such as coalminers. The tremendous wealth the world enjoys today, the technological progress, the huge increase in living standars is due to the work of these people. We should not blame coalminers, or loggers, or oil-rig workers for causing the climate crisis.

As someone who grew up near the so-called ‘Oil-capital of Europe’ – indeed, as someone who directly benefited from the oil-industry throughout my childhood – I feel like this is a really vital distinction to make. People working in the industry are not the issue – the industry itself is the issue.

But back to the book – it’s a quick read at just under 200 pages and the essay format really lends itself to dipping in and out of. Language-wise, it’s also written in an incredibly accessible style.

My one ‘complaint’ is, however, to do with exactly that – the accessibility. I presume that academic-style citations were excluded to aid ‘readability’, however, as someone who likes to enjoy a factual book and then jump down the rabbit-hole of quoted works, I found the lack of citations… irritating. I know it’s a personal thing – citations do often exclude a lot of people, but for a group intent on telling us to ‘listen to the scientists’, XR are making it very hard to read the scientific papers they’re quoting.

Anyway, as I say, it’s a small complaint, and a personal one, and it definitely shouldn’t put you off reading this book.

Have you read This Is Not A Drill? I would love to hear your thoughts if you have.

 

Eco Thrifty Living – Zoë Morrison

Eco Thrifty Living - Save Money, Save the Environment and Live the Life You Want!

Recently, I downloaded a copy of Zoë Morrison’s book, ‘Eco Thrify Living’, for my Kindle.

I’ve been following Zoë’s blog for a long while now and in addition to all sorts of really interesting articles, her list of package-free shops in the UK is so incredibly useful.

I think one of the things I liked most about this book was the realism of it – contrary to Bea Johnson’s (otherwise wonderful) work, this advocated the slow-change approach and I think for most people, this is the manner of change which will work best.

I also really like the format of it – it’s accessible and easy to read. I devoured the whole thing as I travelled down to see a friend and didn’t leave the book feeling disspirited. It’s so easy to read a book about the environment and feel helpless – too small to make even the slightest difference – but that’s not the case here. I felt empowered to continue playing my part as best I can.

As someone who’s been trying to reduce my impact on the planet for the past decade – at least – some of the information was a little basic, but actually, it was nice having the steps that I’ve taken ‘validated’. That said, there was lots of new information too and in coming posts, I’ll share whether or not the actions I’m implementing on account of the book are working.

Have you read Zoë’s book? What are your favourite environmental reads? Let me know here, or on Twitter.

My Zero Waste Kitchen – Dorling Kindersley

This is a really cute, colourful little book – laid out in classic Dorling Kindersley fashion. As one would expect from this publisher, there is a lot of really solid advice here, spread out in bright and cheery text boxes.

Overall, this reads like a cook-book for the experienced, rather than an environmental book and I’m not entirely sure who it’s aimed at. If you’re the sort of person who cooks the sorts of things in the book then you know most of these tricks already, however if you need the book to tell you this stuff, then you probably need more detail.

My eldest child (8) really enjoyed reading it and said it was very educational, but at the same time, how many 8 year olds are in charge of a kitchen? Perhaps this is something for students who are just starting out in their own flats?

That sounds disparaging, but I’m a really experienced cook and there was still new information to me here – I didn’t clock that microwaving my dish cloths would sterilise them, but of course that’s A Thing. Can’t believe I didn’t think of that before!

I guess this is one to get from the library if your local brach carries it. A great once-through sort of book with a few key points to take away.

What great waste-reducing tips have you found in unlikely places? Why not come and share them with me here or on Twitter?

 

A Bunch Of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy – Sarah Lazarovic

I first read A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy by Sarah Lazarovic when I was looking at how to reduce our outgoings, rather than as part of a more eco-friendly way of life.

To a point, thriftyness and earth-friendly living are very much two sides of the same coin, and this book beautifully sums that up. Use things up, borrow what you don’t have, swap if you need to, buy used, make it yourself and only if you can’t do any of the above, buy new. It’s great advice – both financially and ecologically.

Lazarovic has made an absolutely glorious book here. The illustraitions and text – if you can call them that – are individual works of art, and it’s a genuine pleasure to read. There’s no guilt-trip attached to purchasing – no inherent judgement – but it still manages to get its message across. The overall tone is warm and humerous, and – a massive bonus for me – I managed to read it in a single afternoon.

Part of the book includes the ‘Buyerarchy of Needs’:

I think this is probably the core concept that a reader should take away from the book – i.e. consume slowly to reduce your impact on the world and your wallet.

Whilst I love this little orange tome, I think it speaks to a specific demographic – those of us with enough disposable income to spend without having to employ the pinpoint precision of those on the breadline, those whose consumption is already limited to life’s absolute necessities. It highlights the fact that there is a great deal of privilidge inherent in living a broadcastable low-waste lifestyle – to have to choose low-impact alternatives is, by definition, to have the luxury of choice. So yes, let’s choose sustainability when we can, but let’s also fight for legislation which makes these low-waste options available to everyone at an affordable price. Because speaking honestly – who creates less waste? The low income family who watches their electricity consumption, their water metre, their food waste and clothes use, or those of us who have to think about whether or not we “need” a new jumper that happens to be really pretty? I know who my money’s on…

But I digress.

It’s definitely a book I’ve appreciated having. Because I’m a messy human, it tends to just sit on my living room table so periodically, the bright orange cover serves as an invitation to leaf through. That each two page spread is a work of art on its own makes it really easy to dip in and out of on the odd occasion I’m at a loss for something to do for a minute.

Regardless of where you are with reducing your waste, this is a really nice book to have, even if it’s just for the art.

Turning the Tide on Plastic – Lucy Siegle

When the lovely refillery in our village opened (how lucky are we?), they were selling copies of Lucy Siegle’s book, Turning the Tidy on Plastic.

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I’ve read Lucy’s earlier book – ‘To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World’ – and really like the way she writes, so I couldn’t wait to check this one out of the library.

Aside from being struck by the irony of the book arriving in a plastic jacket when the publisher had taken pains to remove the plastic from the cover paper, this was pretty much what I’d hoped for; a realistic account of how you can go about removing single-use plastic from your home.

The book begins by recounting the history of plastic and in further irony, how it was initially develloped to help preserve animal life. With tortoise-shell buttons and ivory billiard balls being replaced by plastic equivalents, a lot of the early innovators in the field had conservation in mind. I found this especially heartbreaking – I don’t know if it’s just me but the idea of the substance being twisted by greed to the point where it’s choking the oceans really hit home and strengthened my resolve to remove more single-use plastics from my life.

I also found the following passage incredibly sad, and true, and moving:

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After having discussed what plastic was supposed to be vs. what it became, Siegle examines what we can do about it.

Initially, she encourages people to examine what they’re disposing of through keeping a diary of items which enter their bin. After which, it’s easier to identify what is/isn’t avoidable.

What I liked most was that she discussed something which has been on my mind for a long while – the aesthetic of low/zero waste on platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram in contrast with what this concept actually looked like in peoples’ homes. It’s often a difficult thing to covet beautiful wooden surfaces, stainless steel bottles and bamboo cutlery when what you’re living with is aging formica, a ‘disposable’ plastic bottle from six months ago (which you really will get round to replacing with a ‘proper’ reusable one soon) and some plastic cutlery you got from a visit to Pret. The interesting part here being that whilst the former list of things looks pretty, it’s probably more wasteful at this point in time because these items have been specifically created – thus using energy and resources – whilst the latter existed anyway and you’re saving them from landfill…

This touched on what’s probably been the hardest part of reducing plastic for me – the stationary nature of the ‘journey’. It can appear that nothing changes, when in fact, simply by this fact alone, everything has changed. By keeping our possessions the same – by preserving what’s there already instead of dizzily consuming more – we’re changing everything – we’re suddenly part of the solution.

I learned a lot of things reading this – particularly about how important it is to know what you can and can’t recycle and why recycling isn’t a solution, rather than a stop-gap.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking to reduce the amount of plastic waste in their life.

Other than this and ‘To Die For’, what are your favourite books about the environment? Recommend them here, or on Twitter. ❤