Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life

Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life is an approachable book with companion worksheets written by actor activist Ed Begley, Jr. (St. Elsewhere, She-Devil). The book was released in February of 2008, proudly printed on 100% recycled post consumer paper.
Ed gives us a good power punch of a line to remember, “Live simply so that others may simply live.” Wow, he had me at that hello. I may have to turn that into a bumper sticker.

Despite Hollywood fame and fortune Ed has been living simply for almost 30 years. The beginning of the book briefly discusses how he used to be viewed as a bit of a green freak by the transitional Hollywood in the 1970’s, but now Ed is considered eco-chic and rather a trendsetter. He rather seems to shrug it all off and happily rides his bike about with little concern for what others think.

In his introduction he provides us with a strong motivation, the pursuit of true life happiness. Because he lives simply for the environmental reasons, he can also live happily for his own well being and never take a role he doesn’t like to support an over inflated lifestyle.

He lives in a simple house, wears clothes he has owned for years, grows a great deal of his own food, drives an electric car charged by his solar panels when he isn’t able to use his bike to get to jobs. He makes his own environmentally friendly cleaners and can be found selling them at a farmers market on the weekends.

Ed dives his book into six sections and provides worksheets on topics at the end. The Librarian in me also likes the additional index, and found the book to be very well organized. The six sections are home, transportation, recycling, energy, in the garden and kitchen, clothing/hair/skin care.

A cute little icon of a fruit producing tree companions many of his ideas. Pick from the low-hanging fruit for easy ideas, fruit at the top for the larger and difficult changes. The lower ones are some of the more obvious changes like CFL’s, water saving tips, replacing air filters to the more difficult changes like solar panels or urban windmills.

His energy topics were extremely interesting to me. He has owned (half) his own wind turbine since 1985, and it puts enough clean energy back into the grid to power ten homes. The cost he cites for this change is $6,000 and it counts as an investment while he also quotes the American Wind Energy Association cites the cost as anywhere from $6,000-$22,000. An urban windmill discussion puts cost beginning at around $3,000.

In the beginning of the book we are told that all of Ed’s changes have come gradually, and a truly “green” lifestyle took him years to achieve. I think this does help the approachability of the book, and he is just so darn likable that he makes the subject matter very easy to digest. Much of the subject matter will be familiar to those already deeply green, but even if you are already crunchy crispy it can be a nice refresher book with an uplifting tone.

The worksheets at the end are fascinating, and fans of the Riot4Austerity will appreciate some of the attention to details. If you want to do things like calculating your water usage per minute or just document the changes, you’ve got a nice starting place.

Overall it is a very good read, and also a nice book to just simply skim for hints. I’d rate it as especially good for the new greenie, and also for those that need the extra carrot of cost savings and thrift incorporated into the discussion.

When I first started “going crunchy” (the efforts) somebody said that I should look up Ed. There is a quirky You-Tube that you may enjoy, and we can all learn a bit from his optimism.


Unknown said...

Nice review! I love Ed Begley's reality show, Living with Ed! I'll definitely have to find this book. Thanks!

Robin said...

I loved this book. I love that Ed is now cool. I love that his neighbor is Bill Nye and they have head-to-head eco-throwdowns. No other book has so inspired me to embrace my inner dork.

Green Bean said...

I love Ed Begley because he walks the walk. Thanks for the review. It sounds very accessible as well as helpful - what a great combo.

Going Crunchy said...

Glad you liked it. I love Bill Nye, and use his videos all the time in our Library. I wish I had a neighbor like that!

Robj98168 said...

Looks like you and I had the same opiniona about this book. I reviewed it the beginning of June. I like the whole low/medium/high hanging fruit Icons.

Donna said...

Oh, great, another book to add to my list. :) This looks good! Thanks for a great review.

Going Crunchy said...

Hi Rob,
I'll be sure we have your link in now. Thanks for the shout out about your review. Shan

Unknown said...

Oooo I just checked this book out from the library the other day! Can't wait to get started. I love Ed!

Anonymous said...

It actually is a bumper-sticker! There are several places to buy one, but I knew I'd seen that slogan before on a few cars, and here's one place to buy it: http://www.cafepress.com/afterthoughts.4778235

Hope that helps. :)