Posted by: Michael D. Austin | August 4, 2009

MUST READ: Green Life Tips From Someone Who Knows

Living Green: A Practical Guide to Simple Sustainability by Greg Horn

Living Green: A Practical Guide to Simple Sustainability by Greg Horn

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Greg Horn’s Living Green: A Practical Guide to Simple Sustainability is one of the best examples you’ll ever find of an easy-to-read, sensible primer on suggestions for sustainability. This book was one of greendom’s first best sellers. From it’s back cover it promises, “The most affordable and practical ways to live more lightly on the planet.” And Greg delivers. Get it, read it and use it and you’ll be glad you did.

We’ve read Living Green: A Practical Guide to Simple Sustainability from cover to cover and found it especially interesting, useful and even enjoyable. So, to give you an overall feeling of what it offers, let me offer other snippets from the book’s back cover.

– “Over 85% of Americans today express concern about health and the environment, but only a small fraction say they know where to begin.”

– “The most chemically intensive personal care, household cleaning, and lawn care products, with effective natural alternatives.”

– “How a simple carbon filter can dramatically improve your everyday health and potentially add years to your life.”

– “Why an organic mattress is the most important health investment you can make.”

History how it actually happened

History of Hostess - how the inspiration to manufacture Twinkies actually happened.

Greg is a man blessed with lots of common sense and experience in green matters. Paraphrasing one of my favorite bromides of his, Greg recommends that if you can’t pronounce the name of an ingredient in your food, or you don’t know what it is, you should put it down and select something else. That makes sense, right? Ask yourself if companies like Enron, Dow, Hostess Cakes and General Foods ever have your best interests at heart.

Another surprising recommendation Greg offers is that if you want to put something in contact with your skin, it has to be something you can eat, otherwise it’s toxic. Knowing what I do about chemistry, companies and bodies, having synthetic, un-pronounceable chemicals in our stuff is sales baloney, but wasn’t inclined to do anything about it until I tried a simple test Greg suggests; try rubbing a little crushed garlic on the sole of your foot and take notice of what happens in about 15 minutes. To be scientific about this, I’d suggest using latex gloves on your hands while you’re crushing the garlic so you don’t bathe your hands with the pungent stuff. And then think about what Greg wrote and see where your thoughts lead you.

You mean I can take something that's been in the ground for millions of years, have a herd of chemists work on it, and make it safe to slather all over me? Cool!

You mean I can take something ucky that's been in the ground for millions of years, have a herd of chemists work on it, and they'll tell me it's safe to slather all over me? Cool!

When I first considered this, I wondered why the cosmetics manufacturers insist on putting chemicals like methylparaben, dimethicone or petroleum jelly in products like skin moisturizers. The manufacturers would say those chemicals are safe, right? Since the only two scientists on Earth who could agree upon and completely understand the effects of low-level, chronic toxicity of synthetic chemicals weren’t available for interview at press time, I thought much less of mainline consumer companies’ safety criteria.

You might conclude the same thing I did – that chemicals in products applied to your skin are safe in exactly the same way PG&E’s hexavalent chromium was, made famous by Erin Brockovich. Here’s the truth: unless someone can prove something from a long-term study, no one’s gonna cop to slowly poisoning your skin. There’s no good incentive for them to do it. And whether something’s mildly toxic or will kill you instantly is a counterproductive distinction – like being “a little pregnant.” Thanks to Woman’s Day for providing the wonderful photo next door, from their article titled, “5 Things To Do With… Petroleum Jelly.”

Greg has divided Living Green: A Practical Guide to Simple Sustainability into three sections, “Sustainable Health,” “Sustainable Home” and “Sustainable Future.” Simple and direct is his writing and information, based on good research and personal experience. He also makes suggestions in getting started which are easy to follow, and which I can verify from own experience make a great deal of sense. Greg’s suggested beginning “Top Ten” are:

  1. Eating organic
  2. Going carbon zero – offsetting your own carbon footprint
  3. Recycling
  4. Denying disposables
  5. Switching to natural personal care
  6. Using natural lawn care
  7. Cleaning green – using environmentally friendly cleaning products which are also far less toxic
  8. Filtering your tap water
  9. Increasing energy efficiency
  10. Staying informed
Greg Horn, best-selling green author

Greg Horn, best-selling green author

If you’re looking for more credentials to back up what Greg has written in Living Green: A Practical Guide to Simple Sustainability, these things occur to me as worthy of primary mention:

… While Greg was Chief Executive Officer of General Nutrition Centers (GNC), expanding the company from $400 million to $1.5 billion in revenue over his 11 years – he solved his own personal health challenges resulting from multiple chemical sensitivities. He write about them in Living Green.

… Greg’s a speaker and advocate for sustainable living and founder of Just Do One, a leading on-line community for sharing ideas on sustainable living.

… Greg co-founded several branded nutrition and healthy living companies and Eco Shoppe, a retail brand offering simple solutions for living green.

… Was turnaround CEO of Garden of Life, Inc., an organic food and nutrition supplements company.


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