It's a strange thing, but it's been quite awhile since a new book on sustainable living has crossed my desk. I'm not sure why -- the topic is more urgent that ever -- but I do know it's unfortunate because new information we all need to know and new ideas we all can use are coming to light all the time. That's why I was glad to see Sara Snow's Fresh Living: The Essential Room-by-Room Guide to a Greener, Healthier Family and Home, a new book that combines today's current wisdom with great ideas for making yours a safer home and a healthier family.
Sara has been deeply immersed in green living for years. Her parents, after all, started Eden Foods, and she herself has hosted several television series and programs on the subject, including, as some of you may know, my own recent television special, Big Green Lies. It was a pleasure to work with her, but that's not why I'm recommending her new book. I think people should read it because it says a lot of things about living sustainably that you don't really hear too often, never mind find in one place.
On the surface, Fresh Living may look just another healthy home book. But don't be fooled because environmental sustainability is only part of what it's all about. This isn't so much a healthy home book as it is a healthy life book, and that makes all the difference.
Alongside the book's plentiful facts and tips about "green" living, I found all kinds of other advice that's just as important to creating a sustainable world and raising an optimally healthy family. The chapter that covers the kitchen, for example, doesn't just address the environmental benefits of organic foods. It also talks about the value of local eating and community supported agriculture. Advice on conserving refrigerator energy appears alongside suggestions about what it's healthiest to put inside that fridge in the first place and how we can shop for it. We learn that there's more to a healthy bedroom than organic sheets and a fume-free mattress. There's fair trade clothing to consider, not to mention things like sleep patterns and even greening your intimate moments.
This larger and more holistic view of what it means to be healthy and sustainable permeates the book. And that's a welcome thing. By covering less common subjects like these, Sara refuses to fall into the same tired one-dimensional rut that reduces the final value of books like this. Instead she's chosen to look beyond the usual myopic "environment-only" perspective and provide the ideas that we need to elevate our lives to a higher and deeper level of sustainability, one that I think is ultimately more enduring and more rewarding.
There's also a lot of important information about emerging concerns here. The last few years have brought to light a mountain of new evidence that says we need to be thinking about common household hazards like phthalates, bisphenol-a, and flame retardants. This is the first healthy home book I've seen (and didn't write myself!) that covers these crucial subjects. That alone is worth the price of admission.
When you combine all this with helpful sidebars, inspirational profiles of others who've "gone green," and all kinds of checklists, you get a great how-to book on sustainable living that isn't like the others. Sara knows what she's talking about and after you read her new book you'll be living the good green life she's found for herself.