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Books: Green living rooted in established ways

Many “green” community programs that that focus on changing attitudes and behavior — and probably along the way, values — are rooted in European traditions, as demonstrated by the focus of three books below.

•    “Rain Gardens” is an exciting and motivating book by Nigel Dunnett and Andy Clayton, instructors at the University of Sheffield in England and professionals in the areas of landscape design and naturalistic and ecologically informed plantings.

They present in simple terms the value of and clear directions for using storm-water planters, permeable paving, green roofs, rainwater harvesting and storage and landscape swales in private and public landscapes. Specifically, they discuss harvesting and storing rainwater from roofs, either in rain barrels or cisterns.

They also explain the value of creating planted swales and strips along driveways to capture rain water and return it to the soil rather than lose it in the storm drains. These are simple ideas and strategies. Most can be done by a homeowner at minimal expense.

•    “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Living” is filled with facts and information about going green at home, with vehicles, in daily life, and at work. It also discusses socially responsible investment opportunities. The list of Web sites, addresses and other resources is encyclopedic. The book presents an abundance of simple strategies to get started, learn more and do more. The author, Trish Riley, is an American environmental journalist.

•    “365 Ways to Change the World,” subtitled “How to Make a Difference — One Day at a Time,” by British author Michael Norton. goes beyond simple ecological awareness and change. Norton seeks to promote community change resulting from individual changes in attitudes, behaviors and actions. The book also examines “eco-business” activity that results in new products that deliver only an illusion of change.

Draine is a member of the South Dakota State University Co-operative Extension Master Gardeners and the Garden Writers’ Association. She lives and gardens in Black Hawk, S.D. Contact:

Starting points:

•    “Rain Gardens,” managing water sustainably in the garden and designed landscape, Dunnett and Clayden, Timber Press, 2007

•    “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Living,” Riley, 2007, Penguin Group (USA)

•    “365 Ways to Change the World,” Norton, 2007, Free Press (Simon and Schuster)

•    “How to Live a Low-Carbon Life: The Individual’s Guide to Stopping Climate Change,” Chris Goodall, 2007

•    “Carbon Counter: Calculate Your Carbon Footprint,” Mark Lynas, 2007

•    “Low Carbon Diet: A 30-day Program to Lose 5,000 Pounds,” David Gershon, 2006.

•    “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life,” Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver, 2007

•    “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. Michael Pollan, 2006

Sources: Harvey Bryan, U.S. Department of Energy, EPA, staff research, Northern Arizona University Center for Sustainable Environments.

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