Going Green for the GENIUS


Where are you on your lifelong journey to make good green and sustainable choices? Whatever your starting point, Going Green for the GENIUS was written for you!

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Where are you on your lifelong journey to make good green and sustainable choices? Whatever your starting point, Going Green for the GENIUS was written for you!

Perhaps you are new to the subject matter. If so, this For the GENIUS book provides you with a solid foundation for making healthy, green, and sustainable choices.

Or, if you are already quite knowledgeable and practiced in the fundamentals of sustainable and green, you will gain a new and useful information and feel refreshed in your knowledge.

Or maybe you’ve been looking for the perfect book on going green to introduce a friend or loved one to the idea of making wise green and sustainable choices that are good for them and for the planet.

Going Green for the GENIUS was written so each chapter can be read as a stand-alone chapter. The author, Katie Belisle-Iffrig, recommends starting with Part 1, but then to feel free to skip around from there.

Part 1 will ground you in some of the basic principles of ecology, the study of the interaction between humans, nature, and nature’s cycles. You will learn about ecosystem services and their importance to human and environmental health and well-being. You will explore the impact of human activities on these vital services and take an in depth look at climate change.

Part 2 takes a big picture look at renewable energy and digs down into actions that you can take as an individual to save money and reduce your carbon footprint. These actions include ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home and landscape to ideas for greening your commute.

Some of the information on pollution and environmental toxins in Part 3 may be a bitter pill to swallow. While it may be unsettling, the author gives you the power to make healthy, informed decisions for you and your family. This part helps you determine the source of harmful toxins and provides action steps to help you remove them from your home and landscape. You also will learn how to reduce your contribution to air, land, and water pollution.

Part 4 takes a look at the environmental and human health costs of our consumer choices. The good news is just about everything today can be reused, recycled, and repurposed in some manner. You will learn why reducing your consumerism at the point of purchase is the best choice for you and the planet.

In Part 5 examines two very different ways of growing and transporting food. This part is chock full of advice to help you find the healthiest food for you and the planet. You will also look at the power of native plants and sustainable landscapes in helping solve some of today’s most pressing environmental problems.

Part 6 is a celebration of your decision to go green! You will take a hypothetical look at your green home and lifestyle. You and the author will end your journey together by having some good green fun in the great outdoors.

What Are GENIUS Books?

Though we admit to a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun in referring to our readers as geniuses, we do in fact think highly of them! We know that they are intelligent and knowledgeable about many subjects, just not necessarily on the subject of the For the GENIUS book they’ve just picked up. They know that, despite the title, our books are for pretty much everyone, not just “Einsteins”—though even some Einsteins will enjoy our books, too!

We celebrate the fact that our readers are inspired to learn a subject enough to pick up one of our books, which in turn inspires us to ensure, through plenty of perspiration at every step, excellence in producing them.

Readers will enjoy the fun, upbeat, and first-person writing style. They will even find themselves entertained by the occasional sprinkled-in humor, and look forward to sidebars that enhance the discussion.

Though written in a conversational first-person style, GENIUS books are thorough and authoritative treatments of the subject. They are written by top experts in the subject who want to share with others what they’ve learned.

Part 1—Going Green-Laying the Foundation

The chapters in this section lay the foundation for understanding the interrelationships that exist between humans and the natural world. We will further our understanding by examining how human activities impact natural cycles by taking an in-depth look at climate change.

Chapter 1: Going Green—What’s in a Name?

Going green is a lifestyle choice that embraces the guiding principles of both sustainable and green. While many people use these terms interchangeably, there are subtle differences in their meaning and practice.

Chapter 2: Digging Deeper into Green

Developing a basic understanding of ecology and ecological principles provides an important framework for your green journey. Your acquired knowledge will help you connect the dots between your daily choices and actions and their impact on the environment.

Chapter 3: Valuing Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem services refer to the many benefits humans receive from ecosystems. Although most of us are not aware or do not think about them, these natural services are vital to our existence.

Chapter 4: Climate Change—Taking the Heat

While many natural factors influence climate, human activities contribute to climate change by adding greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Learning to connect the dots between your daily activities and their influence on climate is an important first step in improving the long-term health and well-being outlook for ourselves, other species, and the Earth.

Part 2—Energy Matters

This section provides an overview of different energy sources and explores actions you can take to improve energy efficiency, save money, and reduce your carbon footprint.

Chapter 5: Renewable Energy—The Big Picture

Renewable energy comes from resources that are in abundant supply such as the sun, wind, water, and geothermal. Renewable energy reduces pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and our national dependency on fossil fuels. By choosing renewable energy, you are helping to ensure vital natural resources are available for future generations.

Chapter 6: Your Energy-efficient Home

Wasting energy is tough on your budget and on the environment. The good news is whether you rent or own, you can make your home more energy efficient.

Chapter 7: The Inside Story on Energy Efficiency

Heating and cooling systems, appliances, electronics, and home lighting account for a significant portion of your home’s energy budget. We will take a look inside of your home to identify some easy things you can do to increase your energy savings and decrease your carbon footprint.

Chapter 8: Green Your Commute

How you choose to get from point A to point B likely
makes a big difference in your overall carbon footprint.
This chapter looks at the environmental impact of
different transportation alternatives and suggests
several options to help green your commute.

Part 3—Toxins, Pollution, Oh My

The chapters in this section help identify common
sources of environmental toxins and air, land,
and water pollution. We will discuss easy steps
you can take to protect your health and the health of the planet.

Chapter 9: Environmental Toxins—A Brief Primer

An alarming number of human-made chemicals are
being mass-produced with little, to no, research on
their long-term effects on human and environmental
health. The more informed you are about these potential health and environmental hazards, the better you will be at making healthy decisions for you, your family, and the planet.

Chapter 10: Clearing the Air—Inside and Out

When most of us think about air pollution, we envision smoke and fumes billowing from industrial complexes
and power plants. The truth is many air pollutants result
from our everyday activities. Indoor air pollution is often
two to five times worse than air pollution. Once you are
aware of common sources of indoor air pollution, you can take action to reduce your exposure

Chapter 11: Water-Wise

Water shortages and contamination from pollutants
are reducing the amount of available fresh water here
and across the globe. Learn what you can do to help
conserve water and reduce your contribution water

Part 4—Living in a Material World

The chapters in this section provide an overview of the environmental and human health consequences of our consumer choices. We will discuss environmentally friendly strategies for greening your consumer habits and reducing your waste stream.

Chapter 12: Consumer Nation

We are a consumer nation. For our commitment
to consumerism, we have more pollution, fewer
natural resources, an epidemic of obesity and related
health concerns, a quick fix medication mentality, and enough trash to cover the state of Texas twice. Find out how many of these pressing health and environmental problems can be stopped at the point of purchase.

Chapter 13: Waste Not

More than 250 million tons of trash is generated in
the United States each year. More than half is
destined for the landfill. Once there, our trash can
become a potential potent pollutant of air, land, and water. Pollution prevention begins by reducing or eliminating waste at the source by consuming less, using nontoxic or least toxic materials, and reducing the amount of product packaging.

Chapter 14: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Repurpose

Today, just about everything can be reused, recycled, or repurposed in some manner. Learn how these good green and sustainable practices play an important role in conserving natural resources and reducing air, land, and water pollution.

Part 5—Eat, Drink, Garden

The chapters in this section examine two very different ways of growing and transporting food. We also look at the power of native plants and sustainable landscapes in helping solve some of today’s most pressing environmental problems.

Chapter 15: The Modern Farm

Today’s modern farm looks more like a factory than a farm. We will take an in-depth look at the modern industrial farm and the sustainable farm, and compare the environmental and human health impact of these two very different ways of growing and raising food.

Chapter 16: From Farm to Fork—Consider the Source

The origin of your food makes a big difference to your health and the health of the planet. In this chapter, we connect the dots between how your food is grown and the food that is on your plate. When it comes to eating food that is good for you and for the planet, the best rule of thumb is to consider the source.

Chapter 17: Your Local Foodshed

The best way to be certain you are eating the freshest, healthiest food available is by getting to know your foodshed. A foodshed is the local region where food flows from where it is produced to the place where it is consumed. From farmers markets to food co-ops, there are many places where you can find sustainably grown local food and drink in your foodshed.

Chapter 18: Grow Organic—Good for You, Good for the Earth

There are many reasons to go green and grow organic in the garden. One of the best reasons is you can grow healthy and nutritious food free of chemical inputs. We will discuss how to grow healthy plants that nourish you and the Earth.

Chapter 19: Sustainable Home Gardening

The way we garden, and the plants we choose, can go a long way toward solving many of the environmental issues we face today. We will explore how sustainable gardens and landscapes help conserve water and reduce soil erosion, flooding, and pollution. We will also look at the many ways native plants and sustainable landscaping can help you bring nature closer to home.

Part 6—Going Green-Putting It All Together

The chapters in this section celebrate your green journey by taking a hypothetical look at your green home and lifestyle.

Chapter 20: Home Green Home

Green homes are healthier, more energy efficient, and less expensive to operate than homes built with conventional building materials. We will look at a brief history of green building certifications and find out how the green building movement has opened the door for environmentally friendly products and practices. We will also take a descriptive virtual tour of your green home and landscape.

Chapter 21: Your Life On Green

A green lifestyle is a healthy and active lifestyle. This chapter takes a hypothetical look at your green lifestyle. Find out how adopting a green lifestyle leads to improved health and a high quality of life.

Chapter 22: Good Green—Fun in the Great Outdoors

From hiking to biking to kayaking and birding, green recreation in the outdoors connects you with nature in environmentally sound and sensitive ways. Let’s celebrate your green journey with some healthy and environmentally friendly good green fun!

Katie Belisle-Iffrig, Author

Katie Belisle-Iffrig, Author

Katie M. Belisle-Iffrig, ReD, is a passionate advocate for sustainability and environmental literacy. Katie’s passion dates back to her formative years growing up on the shore of Lake Michigan. She spent numerous hours traipsing the shoreline and hiking the trails at the adjoining nature preserve and wetlands.

Her love of nature and the outdoors has been the unifying thread throughout her education and her career. Trained as a scientist, she holds degrees in biology and botany. She added social science and experiential education to her credentials when she earned her doctorate degree in outdoor recreation with a minor in folklore from Indiana University.

As the founder of Code Green Collaborative, Katie has worked with nonprofit and for-profit organizations on a wide variety of sustainability, conservation, and environmental education projects. Through her work, she has demonstrated her skills in sustainable strategic planning, grant writing, stakeholder development, curriculum development, environmental interpretation, and project conceptualization and management.

Katie thrives on building programs from the ground up. She is currently working with creative partner Kerry Smith to launch Powered by Plants, a sustainability education program dedicated to teaching children about the connections between a healthy planet and healthy people. Katie and Kerry were key players in the conceptualization and development of RiverWorks Discovery, an education program about culture, commerce, and conservation on America’s rivers. RiverWorks received a White House Innovation Champion of Change Award in 2012.

Katie received a Choose Environmental Excellence Award for her ground floor involvement in the development of the award-winning Pots to Planks program. Pots to Planks recycles garden plastic pots into recycled plastic lumber. Since the program’s inception, more than one million pounds of horticultural plastic have been recycled and diverted from the landfill.

Katie is an LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Associate and is recognized as a green building expert. She chairs the Green Schools Committee of the local chapter of the United States Green Building Council and recently joined the Santa Fe Center for Transformational School Leadership as a consultant.

A dedicated lifelong learner and habitual volunteer, Katie belongs to numerous civic, conservation, and environmental organizations. Katie lives and plays in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband, two daughters, three cats, and two dogs.