Almost Green: How I Built an Eco-Shed, Ditched my SUV, Alienated the In-Laws, and Changed My Life

Almost Green: How I Built an Eco-Shed, Ditched My SUV, Alienated the In-Laws, and Changed My Life Forever is by James Glave. $22 in paperback from Greystone. It’s a hoot, and it’s also refreshingly real about what “green” means “when the rubber hits the road.”

In this absorbing account of his “cockamamie” ecological odyssey, journalist Glave, “enthusiastic composter,” stay-at-home dad, and guilty SUV owner (it was a gift from his in-laws), recounts his efforts to reduce his carbon footprint by building a “green” writing studio adjoining his less than environmentally correct home on Bowen Island near Vancouver.

As irreverent as it is deeply in-formative, Almost Green traces Glave’s misadventures and steep environmental learning curve—he considers (and discards) elaborate straw bale and rammed earth construction schemes, navigates the intricacies of securing recovered wood and negotiating with neighbors concerned about sight lines—as he ponders how to reconcile the contradictions in his lifestyle (“I buy or pick organic, locally grown berries, then gleefully slather them with Cool Whip”) and how to inspire environmental awareness in his community without turning his neighbors defensive or his car-crazy young son into a “playground weirdo.” Costs and domestic tensions mount as Glave tears down a pricey carport, which was a gift from his conservative father-in-law, and his shed’s footprint threatens his wife’s cherished garden space. The focus of this endearing eco-memoir is primarily on getting the dream shed built, but Glave’s sensible (and sometimes caustically comic) green consciousness has real universal appeal.

While coping with the many frustrations and small victories of this undertaking, Glave also dabbles in grassroots neighbor-hood activism. He visits a truly green fam-ily living in the concrete jungle of the city and decides he must divest himself of his hulking SUV, so generously given to him by his father-in-law, without offending his benefactor. His many instructive misadven-tures are delivered in droll and delightful prose. You’ll be laughing—and learning too.

“Reading Almost Green is like getting a new pair of glasses when you thought you could see just fine. A smart, contemplative read.” —Douglas Coupland
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