IF there was one thing I learnt from living in the French countryside it was the beauty and balance of the natural world around me.
When out in the fields I would spot signs of the changing seasons, from the migration of cranes overhead to the swirling clouds of frog spawn in muddy puddles, all highlighting the delicate changes over time.
And it was from being in this environment that I realised how important it was to try and leave as little a footprint as possible on the planet through my day-to-day activities.
Also living a 30 minute drive away from the nearest large supermarket snapped the consumerist in me, meaning I began to prepare things in advance, took greater care of what I already had and repaired broken items when possible.
This breaking of past habits is something highlighted in my pal Tracey Smith's first title, The Book of Rubbish Ideas, which offers up tips on ways to have less impact on the environment put also why we should be thinking about these things.
I first met Tracey about four years ago when she lived with her family in the south west of France, which was also home to her many chickens and a bountiful veg patch.
Her passion for living a more balanced and simple life led to her starting National Downshifting Week, and in the past Tracey has written a number of articles for the site, including downshift your way to a new French life.
But Tracey is no finger-jabbing heckler trying to turn everyone green, as being a mum herself she understands the difficulties and problems of everyday life, so her book offers up the simplest of tips, such as making your own yoghurt, to getting involved in projects with your neighbours.
The book is described as an 'interactive room-by-room guide to reducing household waste' and that's how it works, you are given tips and ideas on how you can make changes from the kitchen to the bedroom.
Click on the book pages below to read about how you can improve things in the kitchen:
And whilst the book features sample letters you can send to councils and other establishments in the UK to ask if they can improve rubbish collections for example, there are also handy lists covering such things as ways to clean items without resorting to expensive, branded products.
The final part of the book brings together many examples of how a few famous names, such as 80s pop star Kim Wilde, are trying to reduce their own impact on the environment.
With everyday items seeming to be getting more and more expensive by the week, Tracey's handy tips will help you save a few pennies and also help in seeing more of the natural world around you.
Website: The Book of Rubbish Ideas
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Hi Craig - thank you very much for your kind words about the book! I'll never forget our fabulous downshifter's lunch in France - there wasn't a scrap of rubbish in sight!
Wherever we live, whatever space we inhabit and for however long, it's crucial we get to grips with the footprint we leave and we strive to make it lighter with every passing step.
Best wishes to all,
Posted by: Tracey Smith | 29 August 2008 at 20:36