The power of 1
BY Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer
Let's face it, when someone tells you that your personal health habits ó from the soap you use to the water you drink ó affect the health of the planet, the reality can be paralyzing.
Perhaps worse is trying to navigate the world of helpful solutions and find something that you can trust. Environmental journalist Mindy Pennybacker calls this "eco anxiety."
Pennybacker has created a solution for the overwhelmed citizen yearning for clarity: "Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices," just published by St. Martin's Griffin.
The book is a guide to simple, affordable changes you can make toward a more eco-friendly lifestyle without having to engage in radical change.
"I wanted it to be substantive but appear light so it didn't appear threatening," she said. "I don't want people to feel they have to do a lot of hard work and be lectured."
The 270-page paperback is jammed with information, suggested alternatives and the impacts one personal choice can create. Pennybacker examined water, food, home, personal care and apparel.
Each chapter begins with the same simple question: If you could do one green thing, what would it be?
What follows are answers that include good choices and the consequences of the choices you should avoid. She explains the science behind her suggestions and their connection to both your health and that of the planet.
Pennybacker also includes consumer-oriented material, such as suggested shopping lists and which product labels you can trust.
Of course, one of the most important questions is why you should believe Pennybacker.
The 57-year-old author, who was born and raised in Hawai'i, spent the bulk of her journalism career in New York City, including 20 years specializing in environmental reporting. She was editor-in-chief of The Green Guide and a founding editor of greenguide.com. Then she founded her own site, GreenerPenny.com.
Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly, Sierra and The Nation.
Pennybacker returned to the Islands last year with her husband, who is also a writer and editor, and they live near Diamond Head in the home she grew up in.
Pennybacker started the book in 2008 with the hope that she could show the benefits of cumulative efforts.
"I wanted to have a book about individual solutions," she said, "and show how, as part of the big picture, we do make a difference while saving money and reducing toxic exposures in our daily lives."