Living Like Ed

Begley, Jr., Ed. Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life. New York: Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2008. Like many forward-thinkers, Ed Begley Jr. is often lampooned over his concern for the environment. And the title and the cover of this book certainly plays into that image. But nothing about its contents is ego-centric. In fact, Begley is downright self-effacing as he simply and clearly states what he sees as the problem(s) and provides easy, straightforward steps that most people can take to alleviate them. But Living goes further by providing a forum for the "rational voice" of Rachelle Begley, Ed's wife, who offers her own comments on what she sees as "easy" and "too difficult." Together, they provide a nice balance and a personal touch to material that (for some people) can seem like an overwhelming guilt trip. Perhaps most importantly, the Begleys offer substantive benefits (to health and pocketbook) that make the lifestyle changes even more worthwhile.

Long-time environmentalists will find well-tread ground here; but I was happy to discover several points of which I had no idea. The book is structured thematically to address home, transportation, waste, and more; but I think the publisher did a poor job with the layout. Ancillary nuggets of information are poorly clustered, forcing the reader to jump back and forth. Still, the overall substance of the book more than makes up for it.

Living acknowledges that not everyone will want to live like Ed (who actually lives pretty well, it turns out), but it clearly shows that everyone can make a difference.