Victoria Klein has been advocating for sustainable living for years as a "green fashion" model, sustainable artist, activist, blogger and writer. Her new book 48 Things To Know About Sustainable Living is designed to help even the most timid greenies take their first steps toward a more earth-friendly lifestyle.
Each of the 48 tips discussed in the book are accessible, cost-effective, and will contribute to a healthier, more fulfilling way of life for you and your family. The book proves once and for all that sustainable living is more about common sense and practical choices than an elitist mindset. Sustainable living isn't about spending more, it's about spending wisely. It isn't about starting a revolution, it's about getting back to basics. All of us have what it takes to start living a more sustainable lifestyle RIGHT NOW. And this book will show you the way.
Victoria has written extensively on sustainable living for various print and electronic journals and she is also the author of the book 27 Things to Know About Yoga from the same series of "Good Things to Know Books" printed by Turner Publishing. You can follow all of her adventures in at VictoriaKlein.net.
Last month, Victoria was kind enough to sit down and interview with The Green Girls about her new book:
Q: At what point did you realize that you were personally ready to commit to a sustainable lifestyle?
A: I originally became interested in the ideal of living sustainably when I moved into my first apartment. The more I learned, the more an eco-friendly life seemed like the most logistically option. When I started writing professionally in 2005, I took another step as sustainable living became a main focus of my career. The final push came when I moved to San Francisco in 2006. Spending 3 years in one of the most sustainable cities in the world showed me just how easy & affordable being eco-friendly can be
Q: What do you think most people think of when they hear/read the phrase "sustainable lifestyle"?
A: Hippies – which, for the record, it total bull-honky!
Q: What has been the biggest challenge you've face as you've changed the way you live to become more sustainable and eco-friendly?
A: Transportation, absolutely. I could live a happy live depending on my feet, my bicycle, and public transportation. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option in far too many locations. Living in San Francisco, my husband & I didn’t have a car (though we used ZipCar, so great!), and I loved every minute of it … even when I had to wait for the bus or squeeze onto the train. When we moved back to Connecticut, we knew the first thing we’d have to do is buy a car (and we did). Each time I get into run errands, I think, “Gosh, I wish everything was closer together so I could just walk or ride my bike.”
Q: What first steps can you recommend someone who is interested in beginning to make some positive changes to their home, business and family life?
A: Start small & don’t try to overwhelm yourself with making lots of changes at once. Drink tap water (filtering it, if necessary). Swap out your light bulbs for CFLs. Switch to all-natural cleaning & laundry products. Visit your local farmer’s market once a week to buy fresh foods. Print on both sides of printer paper or use them as scrap. The more small changes you successfully make, the more inspired you will be to seek out more sustainable options & actions for all aspects of your life.
Q: Is living sustainably more expensive?
A: No … did y’all read that? NO! It can be expensive, but that is an option. You don’t have to buy $200 organic cotton, fair trade jeans or a $5 apple – in fact, you life was probably just fine without them. The mantra for living sustainably is still the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle. Recycling as become so popular that many forget that 2 Rs come before it!
Q: As you wrote this new book, how did you determine what process did you use to isolate the 48 things about sustainable living that you thought everyone should know?
A: Oh goodness – lots of research online, at the library, and asking friends and family what they want to know about sustainable living. It took me 2 weeks to come up with everything I wanted to include, then another few days to put them all in a logistically order. Flipping through the book, I can easily think of more tips to add & more detail to add to the tips that are already in there. There’s always more to know, but the book is meant to be a simple starting point or springboard into the growing plethora of sustainability.
Q: What do you think most people would be surprised to learn about you as the author of this book?
A: I’m not perfect – go figure, no? I try to live as sustainably as possible, but I don’t beat myself up if I buy something that isn’t 100% organic or made locally. Naturally, I put a priority on buying less and doing more. When I do buy something, I want the money to go to a company or an individual who is passionate about what they do and not contributing to the pollution of the planet (instead of a faceless corporation who is profit-centric).
On average, 80% of my purchases are organic, local, fair trade, or from small businesses. On the other hand, I just bought a pair of running shoes that were made in China. Do I know if the factory is clean or if the workers are being paid a fair wage? No, I don’t, but I’m trying my best here!
Q: What would you like to see more communities doing to support individuals and families changing over to more sustainable living?
A: One word: sidewalks. I live in a suburban town in Connecticut & less than 25% of the city has sidewalks on just one side of the road. Pardon my French, but WHAT the F**K!? This is part of the reason that folks have to drive everywhere – they are few safe places to walk & riding a bicycle isn’t much safer. If communities want their citizens to live more sustainable lives, they have to give them the ability to.
Q: What was the most interesting thing you personally discovered as you researched and wrote this book?
A: That writing 2 books in one year is one of the most insane things I’ve ever done. Just kidding – I know that isn’t the kind of answer you are looking for. I learned so much about volunteer vacations that I am uber-inspired to take one.