A Greener Indiana

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Green Books and Movies for a Snowy Season

Take a break from the latest Disney video (how many times have you seen “Kung Fu Panda”?) to catch up on some green books and movies. You’ll be informed, entertained, and even inspired to change your life.
Here are some books I’ve been reading lately:
• Two by Michael Pollan: The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals offers an unflinching review of “food systems” in our world, from the industrial corn-based system that produces packaged, processed food to “big organic” systems that seem better—or are they? At 450 pages, it’s a big read, but his book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto is shorter and covers nearly the same ground at only 244 pages. I read this book in one day—just ask my neglected family.
• Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: a Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. What happens when one family decides to live on only what they can grow, raise, or buy locally for one year? Barbara Kingsolver tells her story with humor, insight, and informative sidebars by her husband and daughter.
• Garbageland: On the Secret Trail of Trash. Where does your trash go? What about recycling? Will we run out of landfill space? How much trash does one family generate in a week? This book is weirdly fascinating—and the chapter on plastic is worth the price of the whole book. By Elizabeth Royte.
• Fiction: Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry. Berry is known for his essays about the environment, but he’s also a wonderful fiction writer, and this book is on my Top Ten List. It’s the story of Jayber, a small-town barber, his unrequited love for a local woman, and the choices that change the landscape of his little town and the lives of the people who live there.
Feel like watching a good movie? Check these out—they’re available through the Marshall County Solid Waste District’s Lending Library:
• Blue Vinyl: The World’s First Toxic Comedy. Filmmaker Judith Helfand gets the scoop when her parents decide to re-side their house with blue vinyl. What is this stuff, anyway?
• Affluenza. This PBS documentary, based on the book by John De Graaf, David Wann, and Thomas H. Naylor, cuts to the heart of our environmental crisis by looking at our obsessive quest for stuff.
• An Inconvenient Truth – A Global Warming. Think what you will about Al Gore, who once claimed to have invented the Internet—I found this film to be funny, and informative, and surprisingly moving. It’s a good “short course” on global warming.
• The Story of Stuff. A lesson on where our stuff comes from, how we use it, and what we do with it when we’re through. Hosted by Annie Leonard, a researcher with a funny, but direct approach. Great for kids, but be prepared to discuss it afterward! Cute animation.
Contact Meagan Michi, educational coordinator, for resources through the Marshall County Solid Waste Lending Library (including books, movies, and other educational materials): 800-935-8618 or at www.recycleyourtrash.org.
Interested in being part of a green community? Several folks have approached me about starting a monthly meeting for those who want to share their green ideas and resources. Drop me a line through the Pilot News or through my weblog if you want to know more.

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