Tag Archives: books

5 Books to Encourage Your Kids to Play Outside

Yes, it’s summer, and a hot one in much of the United States. Even so, as parents we need to encourage our kids to play outside more. That’s not easy for everyone, especially if the kids don’t play outside as much as they ought to. Whatever the case, it’s time to haul the kids away from their favorite screen and get them to play outside. These books may help with ideas. Buy them or check for them at your local library.

This is important. Too many kids are spending way too little time outside these days. More children are obese. Kids on average spend too much time in front of one screen or another. All too few spend any time at all playing outside on their during any given week. Just compare that to your own childhood, when more kids spent significant parts of the day outside, playing. That’s what I want for my kids. More time outside, playing, just being kids and having fun.

1. Outdoor Parents Outdoor Kids: A Guide to Getting Your Kids Active in the Great Outdoors

Yes, how much you go outside matters quite a bit. If you go out more, your kids will follow. This book is about finding activities you can enjoy together as a family.

2. Great Big Book of Children’s Games: Over 450 Indoor & Outdoor Games for Kids (Ages 3-12)

Yes, this one is for indoor and outdoor games, but the big thing is to play away from the TV and computer screens. I like being reminded of the indoor games kids can play, as sometimes the weather’s not right for playing outside or you have other reasons for keeping the kids in. Doesn’t mean they have to start watching TV or playing on the computer, though.

3. I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature

Yes, you get to be involved too. This book is a reminder to look at the outdoors as a child, not an adult. If you want to help your kids learn about things like bugs, dirt, trees and all the other things they can discover outdoors, this should be a good book for you.

4. Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids

Need cheap, simple, quick ways to get outside? That’s what this book is all about. I hope you won’t spend only 15 minutes outside for all of these activities, but if that’s all you have, it’s better than nothing at all.

5. The Green Hour: A Daily Dose of Nature for Happier, Healthier, Smarter Kids

On the other hand, who says fifteen minutes is enough? Go for an hour a day. This book has a variety of projects and ideas for getting the kids to play outside.

12 Books to Help You Live a More Sustainable Lifestyle

It’s not easy making your lifestyle more sustainable. We don’t always know all the options or how to get started on the things we’ve heard about. Fortunately, information is fairly easy to come by, so you can take steps as you’re ready for them.

Here are some books that may help you to live more sustainably. You may be able to find some titles through your library, but if you’re going to refer to them regularly, buying your own copy either on Kindle or as a real book is worth it.

1. Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre

If you have a quarter acre available, you can grow an amazing amount of food for your family. This book says you may get up to 85% of your family’s needs off that space, and earn money while doing so. All in all, it sounds like a good deal, and a fair bit of work. It covers intensive gardening practices plus a bit about keeping backyard chickens.

Some reviewers on Amazon feel this book doesn’t go into enough depth on the various topics it covers, but others appreciate the simplicity of the descriptions and say it goes into plenty of detail.

2. Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces

So you don’t have a lot of space to grow a garden. That’s not as much of a problem as you might think. This book will help you grow a garden even if you don’t have much of a backyard or even none at all.

3. Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners

If you’re going to be serious about your garden, you need to learn how to save seeds from year to year. This book covers the seed saving techniques for 160 vegetables, as well as pollination techniques and starting vegetables from seed.

4. Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, Third Edition

If you want to live sustainably, you need to pick up a variety of traditional skills that most of us no longer know. This book has plenty of photos to illustrate the skills you may want to learn. Most of us won’t use all of the skills, but if you’re serious about your sustainable lifestyle you’ll probably find some skills you’ll be happy to pick up.

5. Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space

Whether your garden space is limited or you just want to make the most of it, vertical gardening can help you grow far more produce in less space by focusing on plants that climb, and low growing plants that are good companions for them. It also covers a lot of basic gardening techniques, which you may not need if you’ve been gardening already.

6. Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables

Canning isn’t the only way to preserve your harvest when you have a garden. A traditional root cellar can help you preserve many fruits and vegetables without putting them in the refrigerator, freezing them or canning them.

This book will help you choose the produce which will store best. It will also help you figure out how to make your root cellar or substitute another cool, dry space in your home if you don’t have the space for a traditional root cellar.

7. Encyclopedia of Country Living, 10th Edition

If you want a thorough reference for country living, this is the book. It covers topics such as alternative energy, candle making, primitive living, raising earthworms, food preservation, seed saving, beekeeping… the list goes on.

The problem some people have is with the sheer volume of information. It doesn’t always get into the details that everyone needs. It’s an encyclopedia, not a book to sit and read, and not everyone finds the format usable.

8. Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch — Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods

So you aren’t quite sure which foods you should make versus buy. It’s a common problem, and this book addresses it quite nicely. It’s mostly recipes, but also covers raising livestock and whether particular foods are worth the trouble of making them. Worth it isn’t just cost either; it’s the nutritional values that may be even more important in the long run than the upfront cost and time spent.

9. Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter

Not everyone wants a McMansion these days. Many people are recognizing that smaller homes are a great way to live more sustainably, as they really limit how much stuff you can own. This book provides examples of many tiny homes and gives tips on how you can plan your own.

10. Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World

If you’re into things like making your own laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, canning and so forth, or if you want to get into those things, this book is for you. It will help you learn to make all kinds of products at home, even if you live in an apartment.

11. The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses

If you’re serious about growing your own food, greenhouses are one of those things you may get interested in. Being able to grow your own produce regardless of the weather outside is a wonderful thing, and this book will help you do so, and you don’t even have to buy a prebuilt greenhouse, as the book includes instructions to build your own. You’ll also learn which vegetables will do best in unheated greenhouses.

12. DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient Homeowner: 25 Ways to Build a Self-Reliant Lifestyle

If you’re trying to go gradually more self sufficient, this book will help you with the steps required to get off the grid, including backup systems. Some of the ideas will require more advanced skills than others, but there will be something for most skill levels.

How Eco Friendly Are Your Reading Habits?

I’m something of a voracious reader. One of the first features most people notice in my home is the wall of books in the living room. I do mean wall, as the entire length is covered with tall, full bookshelves. I’ve not made the switch to electronic readers such as the Kindle, partially due to my doubts as to the environmental advantages, but also because I don’t want to buy my whole collection over again.

One thing I like about my reading habits is that they’re pretty eco friendly so far as I can tell. I don’t buy a lot of new books, and when I do, they’re mostly used. That said, here are my tips for keeping your reading habits as eco friendly as possible.

Buy Used

I just said this, but it bears repeating. I may not get to read the newest titles as they come out, but if the book interests me, I get to it eventually.

It’s not always easy to find the right titles when you buy used. There’s a $1 bookstore in my area, but for the science fiction I mostly prefer, the pickings are quite slim. For children’s books, it’s quite a bit better, although there are still some authors whose books I never see there. It’s sure fun to go into a bookstore and be able to tell the kids to go pick 5 books, and still pay less than I would for one book new in many cases.

A better selection can usually be found at more traditional used book stores. Prices are a bit higher, but they’re pickier about what they buy and so you get better titles.

Library sales can be a fun source of books. Not only can you get some really interesting books, you’re helping to support your public library, always a good plan. Prices are usually very good.

Visit the Library

You don’t always have to buy books to enjoy them. You can head out to your local library and borrow them.

This is a great way to check out titles you aren’t sure you’ll like well enough to own or that you aren’t finding at used bookstores. Most public libraries can bring in titles from their other locations for you, so you don’t have to worry about driving long distances if another branch has the title you want.

My local library is about a mile away, so it’s pretty walkable even for the kids in most weather. This helps to avoid the use of my car and it’s pretty good exercise, especially with the hills in my area.

Rent Books

You’ve probably heard of Netflix and similar programs for renting movies. It’s hugely convenient and means you hardly have a need to buy movies to keep in your home. There are similar companies, such as Booksfree.com, where you can rent books for a time, no due dates. This is great if you like to take your time reading a new book, and you can choose to buy books when you like them that well.

This isn’t perfect, but few options are. There’s an environmental cost to having the books shipped around. It’s still an interesting option to get access to more titles than you keep in your home. And you don’t even have to make your way to the library.

Loan Books to Trusted Friends

Your books only do so much good sitting on the shelf. While it’s not always easy to loan out the books you love, sometimes you will find a friend you can trust to return the ones you loan to them.

Donate Books You No Longer Need

There comes a time where you no longer want to keep certain books in your collection. That’s the time to donate them to a good cause, whether it’s your local library or some other good cause.

If you prefer, you can also resell your old books. You can take them to a used bookstore or sell them online yourself through sites such as Amazon or eBay.

What Concerns Do I Have About Electronic Book Readers?

Devices such as the Kindle sound like a good way to get to read all the books you want without the use of paper, which isn’t always created in eco friendly ways. That’s what many people love about them. Is mining the materials for electronic readers really better? People talk about Kindles having lower carbon emissions over their lifetime than a book collection, but carbon isn’t all we should be looking at.

The problem I have is in part how people tend to use their electronic devices. Too many people dump their old electronics the instant the new model comes out, even when the old one is working just fine. That’s pretty wasteful. Possibly less wasteful than reading a book once and then getting rid of it, as some do, possibly more wasteful, I haven’t done the calculations.

If you’re considering a Kindle or other ebook reader, think about getting a used or refurbished model. This decreases the price and the environmental impact. Just be sure to dispose of it properly when it reaches the end of its usable lifespan, long before any of my books will.

There are some good arguments that Kindle and similar products are in fact more environmentally friendly than books, and it’s worth considering the information available. Just make sure you make the most of whatever source you have for your reading materials of whatever sort.

How Green Are Your Reading Habits?

I love to read. I have one wall in my home that is covered with books, and that’s not even the whole collection. But what’s the most eco friendly way to read?

The Library

Especially if you have a good one within walking distance, you can’t do much better than going to the library for your books. Many can order titles from other branches, so you can often find the books you really want to read.

Then back they go for someone else to read.

This is especially good if you tend to read a particular book only once. If you read it and are done with it, try your local library. You might get a delightful surprise, and you’re supporting a wonderful institution. It doesn’t matter that the books are free to check out. Communities value libraries more if they get used more.

Used Books

My own addiction. Do not let me get too close to a used book store. It will draw me in and my budget may regret the results.

Used book stores are amazing. They often have titles that you can’t find easily at a regular bookstore. And every book is something that someone else finished with first. You’re not causing more books to be printed when you buy a used book.

You can trade in books that you’re done with at most used book stores too. You may get cash or store credit, depending on the location. It’s a hobby that can almost fund itself. On the minus side, the author doesn’t get anything for your purchases.


Many people feel that electronic books are an environmentally friendly selection. My own feelings on the matter is mixed.

On the plus side, no paper is involved. Once the book is written, it takes very little to make however many copies are purchased. Ebooks are simply stored on a server and downloaded when purchased.

On the minus side, they’re electronic. That means when your ebook reader dies, you have electronic waste to dispose of. Too many people dispose of electronics improperly or just go buy new whenever the hot new version comes out.

Another plus is that one reader can store a lot of books. How many depends on the reader in question. But you won’t be taking up an entire wall of your home storing your electronic books.

Another minus is that they require electricity and batteries. Once a traditional book is printed, it is complete. An ebook uses more electricity every time you read it.

There are a number of ebook readers out there. Amazon’s Kindle
is very popular. You can choose a smaller or somewhat larger model, depending on how you will feel most comfortable carrying around and reading on its screen.

The Sony Digital Reader is a similar product. There are a few versions you can buy, once again depending on just what you feel most comfortable with.

Apple’s iPad is a new entry that does a lot more than just display ebooks. It offers internet surfing and movie watching capabilities as well. There’s been a lot of hype around this one, and it will be interesting to see how things go with it.

If you buy hardcover books, electronic versions are often cheaper. Many people tout this as a savings financially as well as for the environment. My habit has always been paperback, so even new the books likely cost less in print… especially from the used book store.

No matter how you like to get your reading materials, there will be positives and negatives. Give a little thought to the impact of your reading habits and choose the best combination for your lifestyle and the environment.

Green Books for Christmas Gifts

I love to read. It almost doesn’t matter the topic if I have the time. It’s just a little thing I do.

So of course, recommending books comes naturally to me. And with Christmas being a great time to give books as gifts, here are some ideas:

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder

I got a review copy of this many months ago. While it’s not about going green, it is about something that should be important to all parents… getting their kids to appreciate nature. After all, if they don’t appreciate nature why would they want to protect and preserve it?

Getting out into nature is also vital to children’s development. Video games just don’t cut it. They need to get outside and deal with the dirt, climb some trees, get wet and just have fun. That means more than just sending them out into the back yard.

Get this one for your favorite parents of school aged children, green or no. It’s great food for thought.

Feeding Baby Green: The Earth Friendly Program for Healthy, Safe Nutrition During Pregnancy, Childhood, and Beyond

For the green mom to be. Making homemade baby food is something I’ve really gotten into. So much more flexible than using jarred foods, and my baby already has a clear preference for what I make. Those rare times I resort to jars she is not too happy with me and seems (in my opinion) to eat less.

Sewing Green: 25 Projects Made with Repurposed & Organic Materials

For the green crafter in your life. Sewing is a habit I meant to pick up last summer, until we moved on rather short notice. There’s so much you can do with fabrics you already own.

Grow Your Own Tree Hugger: 101 activities to teach your child how to live green

Kids love to do crafts and do projects. Encouraging them to do ones that get them thinking about the environment is a great idea.

This may come more naturally to some kids than others. Mine have been raiding the recycle bin for reusable items, and bringing in all kinds of natural things from outside to work with. It’s wonderful to see, if a bit messy. I like the idea of encouraging them to do more.

Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home

Your home is one of the easiest places to have a green impact on your environment. This book offers green cleaning solutions, personal care items and other things you use around the home.

Wake Up and Smell the Planet: The Non-Pompous, Non-Preachy Grist Guide to Greening Your Day

For the person who needs a lighter approach to going green. This book doesn’t present everything in a serious manner, which can be helpful in getting some people to pay more attention to what it’s saying.