Bob Schildgen – Hey Mr. Green: Sierra Magazine’s Answer Guy Tackles Your Toughest Green Living Questions (2008, Sierra Club/Counterpoint)
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Which is worse — paper or plastic? Can an ecologically conscious person eat guilt-free meat or fish? And, God help us, what’s the most eco-friendly brand of gasoline to buy? As anyone who’s devoted more than a few moments of thought to living a greener lifestyle can tell you, it’s no longer as simple as going out and hugging a tree; even the most well-meaning consumer decisions can wind up having unintended effects, and sometimes making a change is worse than doing nothing at all.

Bob Schildgen — otherwise known as Sierra Magazine’s Answer Guy — is here to help. As subscribers already know, Schildgen has spent the last several years answering questions from concerned readers, many of which are collected in the pages of Hey Mr. Green. The best thing about the book, happily, is Schildgen himself — his writing style is nicely down-to-earth, as shown in the book’s introduction, where he jokes about fulfilling a dream of having a book on top of toilet tanks across America. His answers to these questions also tend to be much more pragmatic than you might expect from someone calling himself Mr. Green: More than once, he waves off a reader’s concerns about, say, the amount of energy it takes to transport Alaskan salmon across the country with well-founded cost analysis arguments. Schildgen’s aim is not to make you feel like the world is about to end, but to point you in the right direction for responsible — and easily achievable — living.

At 216 pages, Hey Mr. Green is pleasantly breezy, and what it lacks in encyclopedic depth, it makes up with breadth; it’s also exactly the right size for those toilet tanks Schildgen jokes about in his introduction, and at just over $10 for the paperback, it’s a great gift for the eco-conscious acquaintance in your life or office. But don’t stop there — funny, informative, and never preachy, Hey Mr. Green also makes for an instantly compelling introduction to the green liftestyle, and it’s thin enough to slip under the windshield wiper of that vanity-plated Hummer in your parking lot. Order up a few copies today.