Watkins Publishing, 2020
Reviewed by Piers Warren
I’ve read a great many books and articles about the environment, mostly dry and depressing, so I was half expecting to learn little new from this publication. But what a joy it was to find a book that cut to the heart of the problems whilst being an easy and entertaining read. And yes, I did laugh out loud (LOL) on several occasions!
Isabel has a chatty and humorous style of writing that makes this a much more accessible read than many others on the same subject. She tackles all the usual necessary aspects: energy, clothing, banking, food, plastic, travel and so on, but rather than just describing the usual solutions she gets different perspectives by interviewing many people at the forefront of tackling the problems. These interviews could have been distilled down into a few recommended actions, but by giving us the discussions in full we get a deeper understanding and a real feel for the people involved. It certainly seems to have helped that to start with Isabel didn’t know a huge amount; she wasn’t a scientist or climate specialist, for example, so she was able to ask the basic questions we all wish we could ask.
Her research for the book included getting hands-on, to experience properly some of the situations covered. For example: she took part in Extinction Rebellion protests and talked to many others doing the same; she spent a week at Lammas (the ecovillage in Wales) learning about off-grid living; and visited the Knepp Estate in West Sussex to talk to the owners about more environmental methods of farming and managing land. She also visited and interviewed the CEO of the renewable electricity supplier Good Energy which revealed much about how the industry works and a few simple steps we can take to reduce our energy loss and the strain on the system.
Along the way she also had an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) survey undertaken on her home, and her discussions and explorations of the results uncovered a number of dichotomies about the system which can lead many unsuspecting home-owners to make decisions that may actually be worse for the environment.
In each case Isabel wanted to know what she could personally do to help protect the environment – to practise without preaching as the subtitle says. The result is certainly very helpful and it clarified a number of confusions in my mind. There is much we can each do, and I thoroughly recommend this entertaining read as a guide for everyone wanting to make a difference. If only every politician would read books like this we might stand a better chance…