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Lifestyle change, or stunt?

(article, Caroline Cummins)

In the latest issue of the New Yorker, environmental reporter Elizabeth Kolbert summarizes the long (back to Thoreau) history of authors trying to green their lifestyles and then write books about their efforts. 

Despite the nod to Thoreau, most of the piece focuses on all the recent books by individuals trying to clean up their lifestyle acts, including Colin Beavan's No Impact Man, J.B. Mackinnon and Alisa Smith's Plenty, Novella Carpenter's Farm City, Doug Fine's Farewell, My Subaru, and Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. 

As Kolbert notes, "most people are in no mood to read about how screwed up they are." But we're willing to read a narrative about how somebody else tried to make things a little bit better, even if it's just a few chickens in a back yard.

Kolbert isn't much impressed with any of these books about starting small; in her article, she calls instead for broad change on a grand scale. True enough, but as the blog Tacoma Green Mama notes, the point of most of these books is that starting small may be the way to get big.