Quill and Quire

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Ecoholic: Your Guide to the Most Environmentally Friendly Information, Products and Services in Canada

by Adria Vasil

Based on her column in Toronto’s NOW magazine, Adria Vasil’s Ecoholic is a slickly produced and irreverently toned book that makes going green seem almost sexy. It also walks the walk, being printed in vegetable-based inks on 100% post-
consumer recycled and chlorine-free paper with a UV-strengthened cover. Even the glue used in the book’s binding is recyclable and emits no volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

To a reader uninitiated in the ways of green, these facts may sound like environmentalist gobbledygook. Fortunately, Ecoholic covers all of these concepts in plain language, including definitions for the scads of acronyms that represent environmentally damaging chemicals.

From beauty and hygiene to food and transportation, the 12 chapters of Vasil’s book examine the environmental ramifications of the choices we make in our daily lives. Given that the most common choices made are the most ecologically damaging ones, Vasil provides eco-friendly alternatives (and Internet links for further independent research) for everything from hair dying to home renovating.

Accompanying Vasil’s text are delicate line drawings and pull-quotes of some of the more alarming facts about the insidious chemicals that seep into our groundwater and even our bodily tissues. Ecoholic readily succeeds at documenting the severity of Western society’s environmentally unsound living practices.

Reading through the chapters – each subdivided into smaller, specific categories – is daunting and almost leaves one with a sense of hopelessness. Often, Vasil’s alternatives are less accessible and more expensive than the common, environmentally hazardous methods they replace, a fact that could easily discourage an aspiring environmentalist on a budget.

However, as Vasil points out in her introduction, every little eco-driven amendment we make to our daily routines “adds up to a movement.” Good to know, since most Canadians are unlikely to start, say, making their own toothpaste any time soon.