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The environmental movement has been gaining momentum for decades, but with so much at stake now with global climate change, genetically modified foods, pesticides, and the like, many people are looking at it for the first time. It can be overwhelming. Green living and the environment touch every aspect of your life, and that is a lot of information to process — not to mention the decisions you will have to make. It sounds deep, but learning comes in parts — and chapters.

This book is an introduction to green living. It includes background on different environmental topics so you can understand why things are the way they are and how situations came to be. For instance, why do power plants pollute? What are some of the challenges with petroleum production and the country's dependency on it? Part of the process of getting a little greener is learning enough to make informed decisions. You will be able to decide what measures you want to take and get some ideas on how you can tread a little lighter and leave a smaller footprint on the planet.

As big as the environmental movement has become, it still has a way to go. Common marketing campaigns urge everyone to buy this and consume that, but more thought needs to be given to what goes into popular products — the process, the means, and the ends. Anyone, any consumer, can read labels to learn about products and make informed purchase decisions. Anyone who is concerned or curious about a product or process can research the company and its policies and practices. Sometimes all it takes is an e-mail or a phone call to find out just how green a product is.

Many people would just like to learn more about what is going on with the environment and what they can do to help the planet — and that's who this book is written for. If you have decided today is the day you will start living a greener life, that's great. But understand that doesn't mean throwing away all your furniture, altering your entire diet, and buying all new clothes. Anyone can switch to a greener lifestyle gradually — changing a habit here, selecting a different product there, reading a magazine, or checking out a different Web site. Think of it as gradual greening. You can make changes slowly over time and focus on the ones that are most important to you. Pick a topic and see how it fits with your lifestyle.

Many people may be surprised at what topic piques their interest. Maybe they'll decide that organic farming or developing a recycling program is something they'd like to tackle. Maybe they'll even take a stab at politics or join a community organization. That's one thing about the green movement — by becoming part of it, you're never alone. It's a group that spans generations and crosses economic and racial divides, and what this movement shares is a desire, a dream, a goal to leave the world a better place.

For now, sit back and enjoy the book and give yourself a big pat on the back for taking the first step in leading a greener life.

  1. Home
  2. Green Living
  3. Introduction
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