Being green made easy

Book Review: 'Shift Your Habit'

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Book Review: 'Shift Your Habit'

Tara-Nicholle Nelson
Inman News

Book Review
Title: "Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life and Save the Planet"
Author: Elizabeth Rogers, with Colleen Howell
Publisher: Three Rivers Press, March 2010; 288 pages; $14

In my personal life (which, by the way, has about 80 percent overlap with my business life), I'm making a constant effort to evolve into a greener and greener life. I used to call myself "light green," meaning I drove my big old luxury SUV down the street to Whole Foods, all by my lonesome and on a regular basis.

If I had options, I'd choose the green one -- as long as it was no less convenient than the guzzly, "regular" way. Over the last few years, though, I've just started to, uh, give more of a crap about our planet. And I've found that oftentimes the green way to do things has turned out to be less costly as well. Bonus!

So, it was a surprise to me when, during a recent conversation about implementing some additional green living features in my home, a colleague exclaimed that he never bothered trying to green his home because it was just too expensive. What a difference a perspective-shift makes.

I was planning on building a recycling center and a compost area -- at negligible cost for the green and organizational upsides. He assumed that unless you were installing $20,000 worth of new dual-paned windows, you were out of luck in terms of greening your home.

Clearly, Elizabeth Rogers' new book, "Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life and Save the Planet," is overdue! Not only does it come just in time for my colleague, but also just in time for the many Americans who are currently undergoing perspective, mindset and habit shifts toward both economical and ecological conservation and sustainability.

In "Shift Your Habit," Rogers not only offers recommendations to readers -- she actually took them on the road, and worked with families coast to coast to implement at least 15 of what she calls "Super Shifts" per family, to provide case studies and reality-based money-savings estimates throughout the book. She defines these Super Shifts as "easy to incorporate," "universally relevant changes that would ... provide instant environmental and economic impact."

Exhibiting just how powerful she believes the Super Shifts are, Rogers sticks them right at the beginning of the book -- a powerful two-page numbered list of easy little tweaks to living, along with how much a household can save by making the change. Water filter on the tap -- almost $900 per year in bottled water savings. Yep -- meaty money savings, with a side order of do-goodism.

Outside of the "Meet the Shifters" features in each chapter, where Rogers tells the story of a family who implemented 15 of her Shifts, "Shift Your Habit" reads primarily as a collection of lists -- lists of well-organized small changes that save money and energy or water, reuse or eliminate waste or otherwise implement green values.

Beginning with Home and Garden, Rogers offers tips around lighting, space and water conditioning (heating and cooling), cleaning and tips for every room of the home -- from kitchen to bedrooms. She also offers useful charts illustrating the savings that can be had from various efficient appliances and recipes for homemade, organic cleaning products, before moving to exterior landscaping, pool area efficiencies and edible gardening. All told, Rogers estimates her shifts can save a household nearly $6,000 per year -- nothing to sneeze at.

From there, Rogers forays into green, money-saving strategies for eating and drinking both at home and in restaurants. My favorite: the section on extending the life of produce and other perishable foods. Savings? Over $9,000 for an average family, according to Rogers! Next? Kids and Pets -- Rogers educates readers as to how they can conserve cash and energy, while still feeding, clothing, educating and entertaining their children of all ages, furry and otherwise.

"Shift Your Habit" then covers how those who live green at home can live those values out at work, where they actually spend more of their time. From work to play, the book then shifts its attention to Electronics and Entertainment; Health, Beauty and Fashion; Transportation and Travel and Holidays and Celebrations. Throughout, Rogers offers helpful charts, tips, lists, savings estimates and anecdotes from her "shifter" families.

If you've been operating under the impression that living green requires a massive up-front investment of either time or money, "Shift Your Habit" is the perfect way to correct that misunderstanding and do your part for the earth and your own finances, at little or no cost.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of "The Savvy Woman's Homebuying Handbook" and "Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions." Tara is also the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com. Ask her a real estate question online or visit her website, www.rethinkrealestate.com.

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