Posted by: Michael D. Austin | February 21, 2009

AMERICANS SAVING THE EARTH: Now Vote Your Dollars for Sustainable Futures

Dr. Ellis Jones, author The Better World Shopping Guide

Dr. Ellis Jones, author of The Better World Shopping Guide and co-author of The Better World Handbook

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We’re living on a planet borrowed from our children. Could we please start acting like it? Do you want a sustainable future? Have you just arrived on the scene of crimes against your Earth? If so, then here are two golden resources to help you get where you want to go.

When I selected sociologist Dr. Ellis Jones in January as Blue Planet Almanac’s very first guest, I knew from his books that he’s thoughtful and methodical. And I suspected he possessed an invaluable perspective about American consumers which few of us have developed. But after I read his pocket handbook, The Better World Shopping Guide and its progenitor co-authored by him, The Better World Handbook, I’m certain he’s the kind of person who knows how to reason through a problem and provide excellent solutions.

The Better World Shopping Guide, 2nd edition

The Better World Shopping Guide, 2nd edition

The absolute fact is that at this moment in time, America’s the world’s poster-child of consumer society. Everyone on the planet recognizes it. So any changes Americans undertake in saving our planet and our own biscuits will have to cater to that perspective. In the last 75 years, our entire culture has been devoted to the pursuit of spending and transformation, so our solutions must be mindful of those underpinnings. Or, to give you just one conclusion, each of us won’t be able to change the planet one dollar at at time unless we can make judgement calls on who we’re paying to help us do it. Simple, direct and inescapable. The country grown on the Almighty Buck will only change by using our currency as the vehicle.

The Better World Handbook

The Better World Handbook

These books are “one-stop shopping” for complete lists of things YOU can actually do. Done for you, the way Americans like them, and all you gotta do is use them. Until one’s able to get busy and get organized by getting involved with environmental or social organizations which can reverse the changes we’ve wrought to our planet in the last 200 years (thanks, Tom!), these books are the places to start your changes. For an environmental perspective on where we stand, listen to my interview of Tom Lovejoy from February 2009; Tom mentions several important things which you can help change by using the invaluable information in these books.

If you’ve just come upon my show and this blog, then let me mention three things which Tom told us which might get your attention and get you thinking and acting. First, that the polar icecaps could very likely be gone each Summer beginning in 2013. Next, that most of the undesirable changes humans have made to our planet have happened only in the last 200 years – which means that we can change many of them back because they’re recent. Third, that many estimates project that we’ll lose 20% to 30% of our planet’s species by inattention and inaction toward the web of challenges we have created from key issues like climate change and habitat destruction. That we finally noticed these facts, or that thousands of credible, solid scientists have been telling us things like this for years, are meaningful only if something’s done about them. And that something starts with your actions in this very moment.

So my recommendations about Ellis’, Haenfler’s and Johnson’s books are simple; go get them and use them and you’ll likely feel happily stunned that you’ve such powerful resources at your fingertips for the asking. Get them both. Put the The Better World Handbook on your favorite reading shelf. Put The Better World Shopping Guide someplace where your family and guests will notice it and open it; and when you dive out the door for a shopping expedition, your goal should be that your copy’s gone missing because someone borrowed it because they noticed it’s so small and mighty. You’ll be thanking Ellis and his coauthors, Ross Haenfler and Brett Johnson that they took the time to be your catalyst for your own positive change.

And that way, when you meet your grandchildren, you can explain to them the positive, fruitful actions you took – instead of offering sobering excuses about why you felt powerless and then did nothing.


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