Twenty years ago I came across a totally unknown, I think self-published book entitled Ecology Begins at Home. It so impressed me I started composting on the little 2 x 4 foot space we have in front of our living-room window on the 5th floor of our apartment building right in the centre of Geneva. What I did not realize was how rapidly the stuff increases in weight, and when I took the mulch down to carry to a park about a mile away the wire-netting broke in the stairwell and the most abominable stink started floating around the apartment building. With vivid images of an angry crowd of neighbours and sturdy policemen chasing my wife and I out of our apartment, I cleaned up the mess and sprayed a whole can of deodorant (how unecological!) in my frantic attempts to get things under control. But the book did more than any other to sharpen my environmental awareness.
Now, almost twenty years later, Archie Duncanson brings out a thoroughly revised version where he maps his own progress in terms of living in an environmentally sound manner while at the same time INCREASING his joy, his health, and walking his talk in a way few have managed. For he has reduced his environmental impact by a full 90 per cent. Yes, you have read correctly: ninety per cent.
I do not hesitate to write that I believe this book to be the most important single book any citizen of the planet in the West can read on environmental issues. There are many excellent self-help books out there on how to live in a more environmentally conscious manner. Archie’s is my favourite one by far because there is not a single ‘You (or one) should…’ ‘People must understand that…’ No, there is not one ounce of moralising, not an ounce of doomsday preaching. Only one person who tells you in an amazingly clear, simple and humorous manner how he managed to reduce his ecological footprint by 90 per cent – and had fun doing it! Wow.
Change your habits
Also as a trainer who attempts to find creative ways of helping people to change, I am deeply impressed. The book not only describes in a very simple manner how the author managed it – the book is just packed with simple descriptions of how to almost effortlessly change your habits in many areas which have an environmental impact – but it is an immensely empowering book. When you have finished reading it, you feel, ‘Well, there’s nothing magical to this thing. I can do the same too.’ In the author’s own words: ‘This book tells how I set about radically altering the amount of pollution I create and the energy and raw material I use up every day: my rubbish, the waste from my foods, my laundry, cleaning chemicals, etc. It tells how I looked for and found practical solutions to almost everything – things I could do in my own life, without waiting for governments or industry to act. … It tells how working with my rubbish and other daily problems gave unexpected benefits: less dependency, a cheaper cost of living, better health, more creativity, joy, peace of mind and hope for the world.’
Who would not want to embark on such a programme! ‘I used to think, It is so hard to change the world, until I realized that when I had changed myself, I had already changed the world’, he writes.
Archie shows how eliminating cans and all sorts of plastic and aluminium containers, purchasing essentially local foods, baking and cooking his own food much more, he reduced his rubbish by… 95 per cent. He has not given up his car, but uses it essentially for rainy days or urgent/difficult transportation.
What I love about the book is that it is bursting with creativity and the fun of exploring. Explaining how he fundamentally altered his eating habits, Archie writes. ‘With every step I ate more wholesomely, more tastily and with less effort. I did things simply: I let the food be itself and let time do the work. I used what I had on hand, I combined like an artist, and no two meals were ever the same.’
Low impact living
In the field of the laundry, he explains how he experimented using less and less detergent powder and how one kilogram of detergent powder now lasts him two years (he lives with his son). One litre of washing up liquid lasts also two years. He has replaced almost all chemicals by natural products.
We waste so much energy with electrical appliances on standby. I love the question he used to help himself become more aware in this field. ‘Archie, would you leave a tap running when you weren’t using the water?’
Two fifths of the book is entirely composed of practical tools for low impact living and measuring your own progress – an important pedagogical tool to motivate yourself to continue and do always better.
Friend, get started now! Order two, three, five copies of the book today (with the great discounts you get from Cygnus) and share it all around. Because we are the problem, we are also the solution. It’s so simple. ‘He who wants to do something finds a means, he who doesn’t finds an excuse’, says an Arab proverb.
Let us be the means!