Never judge a book by its cover, people.
In the stack of books sent to review from Rodale Publishing was one thick, telephone-book-like book, with a plain, simple cover. Immediately I thought, ugh. Some tradeshow-like publication where it lists green vendor after green vendor in miniscule text and borring.
Mea maxima culpa, people. I was so wrong.
The Whole Green Catalog is a gem among green guides. Within its sustainably managed pages are sections on greening your everyday life in areas like housekeeping, energy, clothing, gardening, electronics, travel, on and on and on. Not just a list of green products or vendors, each section is laid out rather like a magazine, with informative columns, articles, green tips, sources and lots of other great info. There's ideas on how to green your everyday life, segments comparing green products to one another and the pros and cons of each, and tips on where to find out more green info. There's also features explaining lots of green fundamentals, such as explaining the confusing "numbers in triangles" system of labelling recycled plastics, a glossary of chemical terms such as "biodegradable" and "phosphate free" and more.
The downside for Canadian ecochicks is that the guide is primarily targeted towards US consumers, and therefore it's a toss-up as to whether many of the products or initiatives mentioned are available or accessible to the Canadian consumer. However, there is still enough information within the book to make it a great reference text and give you some new and innovative ideas as well.
One criticism of the book is that it doesn't seem to explain how the products within its pages were selected - did they compare lots of products and only list the ones that came out on top by some criteria, or did they simply select things that they liked? I wanted to see more about their selection criteria and how things ended up in the book. But aside from that, the book is a great resource and would be an excellent gift for the green neophyte or eco-junkie alike.
There's also an awesome website for more information. The Whole Green Catalog is available at Chapters and other book retailers.