Review:’Diary of a Reluctant Green’ by Richard Hallows

In order to improve my efforts at sustainability I ordered a huge pile of books.  Time, I thought to myself, to be better informed.  It is quite a scary pile, lots of the books have scary titles and I have a feeling the authors are going to be wagging their fingers at me until I hang my head in shame. 

I opted to ease myself in gently and started with ‘Diary of a Reluctant Green’ by Richard Hallows.  I chose this for two reasons.  Firstly, I guessed Mr Hallows’ green record wasn’t likely to be any better than mine, no finger wagging here!  I was right, if anything it made me feel positively smug about my consumption of 2.9 planets (see Sinking in Shallow Depths).  Secondly, it held the promise of being entertaining.  I am so much more willing to listen to people if they are willing to entertain me.  And entertain me it did.

Hallows charts his, often humourous, progress from planet gobbler to a slightly more restrained plateful.  He puts his house on a carbon diet, discovers that by adding three left turns to the school run he can cut his car emmissions by 10% annually and almost manages to demystify the recycling classification of plastics.  Most importantly, Hallows discovers that the changes he makes generally do not impact negatively on his lifestyle, and that indeed they sometimes bring improvement- by the end of his year’s journey he estimated that  annual household costs were reduced by £1730. 

The book is realistic in its ecological remit, Hallows does what can be done within the confines of comfortable, middle-class England.  He raises the questions that have to be asked.  Is it enough? Is it worth it if no one else is doing it?  Are the efforts of individuals and pressure groups going to make a difference without concerted government action?  Is it worth it when  technological innovation can, for example, surpass the efforts of thousands of conscientious recyclers?  (The answer seems to be yes, but not without some misgivings.)    This book is also a valuable resource, listing lots of useful websites and organisations.  Having enjoyed the read,  I will now keep it as a useful point of reference. 

‘Diary of a Reluctant Green’  Richard Hallows is published by White Ladder Press.              

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