Greenline paper company
Most paper companies look at virgin forest with eyes clouded by dollar signs. GreenLine Paper Company sees a different sort of green. GreenLine offers a wide variety of recycled and tree-free office supplies online, and all the products contain at least 30 percent post-consumer waste. Buying recycled doesn’t just help conserve forests. GreenLine says that processing recycled paper uses 40 percent less energy than processing new paper, and it also uses less water.
A common recycling myth is that recycled products cost more, but actually prices are comparable. For instance, one case (that’s 5,000 sheets of paper) of 8" X 11" 20-pound HP Multipurpose paper at Staples.com costs $45.99. The 100 percent recycled-version of that paper at greenlinepaper.com is $45.95. For one 500-sheet ream of paper, the dent in your wallet is the same at the two outlets. The tax on the forests, however, is quite different. —J.G.
CONTACT: Greenline Paper Company, (800)641-1117
SAFE AND SANE SUPERMARKET SHOPPING
Genetically modified foods are entrenched in the U.S., affecting half the market or more, but a discerning shopper can still make healthy choices. Your Right to Know: Genetic Engin-eering and the Secret Changes in Your Food (Earth Aware Editions, $24.95) bills itself as an "illustrated shopper’s guide" for avoiding Frankenfoods. In concise, clear segments, it’s a primer on particular foodstuffs; a historical reference; and a collection of interviews with scientists, farmers, doctors and other concerned players. It contains guidelines for action in your community, including sample letters and relevant addresses. There are also plenty of full-color pictures, maps and graphs. It is rare to find a book that thoroughly covers its topic, teaches environmentally healthy practices and makes specific recommendations for grassroots campaigns. This is such a book, and it’s a good read, too. —Ben Chadwick
In middle-class suburbia, it’s local zoning battles that animate the political scene. Otherwise apathetic homeowners will turn out when a developer proposes an office building (or, worse, low-income housing). When the homeowners have mega-bucks, the NIMBY stakes are higher. Exactly that kind of turf war is being waged on Cape Cod, where an affable energy developer named Jim Gordon has proposed a 130-turbine offshore wind farm for Nantucket Sound. To hear the local landed gentry tell it, this zero-pollution energy producer will be a gross stain in a "pristine" ecosystem. In fact, however, the Cape’s electricity now comes from a dirty and antiquated plant that burns low-grade #6 oil. And, in 2003, a tanker spilled 100,000 gallons of that oil into Buzzards Bay.
Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nan-tucket Sound (PublicAffairs, $26.95) by Wendy Williams and Robert Whitcomb, chronicles all this and more. It’s very well-researched and entertainingly written, but decidedly an opinionated account. The authors dismiss the claims made by the heavily endowed Alliance to Save Nantucket Sound ("the turbines threaten birds and marine mammals!") and cut straight to the real story: preserving mansion views and exclusive sailing waters. The sad fact is that politicians from both parties—Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among them—are carrying water for this elite crowd. They love wind power, just not in their backyards. —Jim Motavalli
Barbara Kingsolver’s ode to local eating, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (HarperCollins, $26.95), has already received plenty of plaudits. Take away husband Steven L. Hopp’s practical sidebars on the benefits of family farms, and daughter Camille’s journal-entry-esque asides on canning and birthdays (with recipes!) and it’s all about Kingsolver’s love affair with growing, nurturing and preparing food. Clearly this is her lifelong passion, and she writes of her kitchen experiments with rapture. "A new recipe is as exciting as a blind date," begins one section, "A new ingredient, heaven help me, is an intoxicating affair." It seems impossible that anyone could be so earnestly devout about the first ripening of asparagus, or the crisp overload of cucumbers in season. But her enthusiasm is contagious. "It’s the visible daily growth, the marvelous and unaccountable accumulation of biomass that makes for the hallelujah of a July garden," she writes. While the book is meant to encourage others to take up gardening, get involved in community-supported agriculture and fatten their own turkeys, it’s enough that it immerses readers into what a local eating life might really feel (and taste) like. —Brita Belli
TOXIC HIGH, 90210
Parts per Million: The Poisoning of Beverly Hills High School (Viking $25.95) by Joy Horowitz examines the legal battle over the oil wells and power plant next to Beverly Hills High School. As rare cases of cancer and other terminal illnesses touch Horowitz’s classmates and former teachers at the school, she begins to question the links between the wells and toxic air.
Horowitz’s book provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the trial that ensued over this exposure, including accounts from Beverly Hills alumna, doctors, city leaders, residents and legal authorities such as high-profile lawyers Erin Brockovich and Edward Masry. Horowitz allows the reader an intimate view into a wealthy town divided. With charges against the oil companies, the power plant, the city of Beverly Hills and the school district, the legal battle is long, messy and as Horowitz implies, incomplete. Parts per Million raises important questions concerning civic and corporate responsibility, environmental toxicity, oil dependence and the restriction of public information. And as the author writes, "If it can happen in Beverly Hills, it can happen anywhere." —Julia Hirsch
SHINY, HAPPY FUTURE
"Green became the color of both money and survival," Harvey Wasserman remembers of the past from life in the year 2030, a year that he recognizes as marking the age of "Solartopia." In Solartopia! Our Green Powered Earth, A.D. 2030 (self-published), the author transports the reader into his vision of a sustainable future, a world in which people have ended their dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power and use only green energy. By the year 2030, what Wasserman calls "the Green Trinity"—wind power, solar power and eco-friendly biofuels (along with the utilization of renewable hydrogen)—have seamlessly replaced fossil fuels and nukes, and people can’t believe societies once relied on such costly, inefficient and environmentally degrading energy sources. Through his persuasive optimism, Wasserman is able to convincingly demonstrate how a future of green energy is entirely within our reach. —Kathryn Gutleber
As rich as the brews it describes, author Chris O"Brien‘s book, Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World (New Society Publishers, $18.95), is full of history, inspiration and wisdom regarding one of Earth’s most ancient beverages. O"Brien, possibly beer’s most fanatical advocate, draws an extended timeline from beer’s feminine beginnings through its corporate bastardization and finishes with a call to bring back small-scale brewing. After detailing beer’s growth into lagers, ales and stouts, O"Brien notes that when industrialization entered the scene, the diversity of local craft-brewing was replaced by humdrum factory production. These massive operations devour energy and resources shipping products around the world, but the author writes, "The new wave of small, local breweries and brewpubs is innovating closed-loop systems that shift society away from wasteful, polluting, oil-dependent business practices." As O"Brien explains, "beeroregionalism" concentrates production in local bioregions. The book also details the organic beer movement, brewers that practice sustainability, the health benefits of moderate beer drinking and concludes with a 24-point plan on how to drink beer and save the world. "My thesis is this," O"Brien writes, "Beer is good for peo
ple and the planet." —Kevin LeShane