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New Year, New Me...Maybe

January 21, 2022

My winter reads have mostly been about self-care, sustainability, and the food supply chain. It was only when I started reading The Secret Life of Groceries and Hell-Bent by Benjamin Lorr that I realized how intertwined everything I was reading about is. However, I had another moment of recognition that left me dumbstruck: Many of the activities described in the book require not only time and effort, but money! Many sustainability and self-care books describe action plans that do not exist for many U.S. citizens. Many sustainability and self-care books describe actions that require the person to have an abundance of time, energy, and cash flow. Heck, this is one of the reasons why I stan so much for Jessamyn Stanley, and similar writers, because their suggestions are at least within the realm of possibility!

Because self-care and sustainability can be supremely overwhelming, especially when starting out from a place of not having, I’ve come up with a list of books that I’ve read and gained some sense of confidence from when it comes to sustainability/eco-friendly and self-care actions.

An oldie, but goodie! I love this book because it was one of the fitness books that I read that really verbalized how I felt, and sometimes still feel, about working out as a plus sized person. But also, working out in spaces that are mostly upper-class and White. Stanley gives concrete ideas on how to modify poses, props to use, and prop alternatives. She also gives people permission to say I’m not doing this thing today, or I’m not holding this pose for this long, or I’m going to move slower. I love this book because it’s not an all or nothing book about exercise. Plus, she also provides information on where to shop for props, clothes, etc.

So, pure honesty: This is one of those books that on some pages made me go “huh?” This book very much assumes you have the basics of sustainability, or at the very least, it assumes one owns and/or lives in a single family home. However, the book is broken up into easy to read chapters. You can skip around and go to the parts you’re interested in, or read the book straight through and still gain a lot of information. It is colorful, the chapters are brief and informative, and I didn’t have to do a lot of guesswork because it provides product information and details.

The product information was the thing I truly loved about this book. There are websites and product names for each section. There is an index with a list of websites, and it’s broken down into categories! I love books like this simply because it does not assume that you automatically know what something is, and where you can find it. Some of the items and resources can be found at local places like Home Depot, Walmart, Metro Water, The Cumberland River Compact, etc. However, the only reason I know that is 1) I work in a library that has multiple community connections related to the topic of sustainability, and 2) I researched by calling around and checking websites.

Make your place affordable, sustainable nesting skills by Raleigh Briggs

I liked the way this book was designed. I also liked the tips on creating homemade cleaning supplies. Something Briggs’ states at the very beginning of the book is if it doesn’t feel good to you then don’t use it or do it. I know some people might go, “Well, of course!” But, when doing anything new, sometimes it is so helpful to hear someone say, “Do the best you can,””Do what makes you feel good,” and “Trust your instincts/ body/ feelings when something doesn’t feel right.” I actually enjoyed this book so much that it’s on my list of books to actually purchase, so I can reread it!

This book pulls the vale away when it comes to the global food supply chain. It also dovetails into environmentalism and sustainability, but it doesn’t linger too long.  Some of the book was inspiring, but many parts of the book are harrowing. For instance, regardless of what your diet is, someone has been exploited in order to get your food to you. The only way to mitigate this even a little bit is to either buy through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or a farmer’s market. However, even then some level of exploitation is still present. When it comes to creating a less exploitative supply chain, or even a more sustainable supply chain, global legislation has to happen. However, in order for that to be possible, countries that historically don’t work together would have to work together for the betterment of every worker and not just the country with the biggest GDP.

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Sade has been with Nashville Public Library since 2007. She started as a Page, and worked her way up. She loves reviewing books, movies, and restaurants. You can usually find her watching terrible movies and reading speculative fiction and comics. Sade is currently a librarian at the Edmondson Pike Branch Library.

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