Green Reference Books

I love reference books. I know, the Internet is invaluable as a reference source, but I still like my own line-up of reference books that I can grab at will to check out a product, an herb, or an ailment. Now I have two new ones: Choose to Reuse by Nikki & David Goldbeck and National Geographic’s Illustrated Green Guide. Since each book has a different focus, I am reviewing the first today and the other next week.

The Goldbecks examine all the ways we can reuse items we have already purchased for another use, ex. old tires made into playground equipment. (The Green Guide is a reference for consuming wisely, i.e., items without harmful environmental chemicals, pollutants, or energy guzzlers.) First, let’s look at Choose to Reuse.


Choose to Reuse is a remarkable reference book published in 1995 and still useful today, because the topics that authors Nikki and David Goldbeck have investigated are still pertinent, perhaps even more so, as global warming has made Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle ever more important in the race to save the planet from annihilation.

Within the book is an excellent, essay by David Goldbeck, entitled “Reuse—The Conscience of Capitalism.” The article sets the tone for Reuse, so I want to highlight some of his ideas: (Note: I capitalize Reuse for emphasis)

First, David emphasizes that to reduce purchases is the fastest route to a greener planet, but Reuse “is any strategy that enables something to last longer than it might otherwise.”

Second, this essay points out that not only is Reuse an environmental strategy, it is also a money-saving strategy. When you use an older item for a new purpose, generally there are fewer resources involved, unlike recycling, which involves more money and time to create a raw material from previously manufactured goods.

Third, Reuse is easier and more broad-based, since anyone can gather items for reuse and sell them or donate them without creating anything new.

Choose to Reuse lists more than 2,000 resources in more than 200 topics in the Directory, starting with Air Filters and ending with Zippers. Each of these items contains valuable information for Reuse and interesting “Choice Stories” about people and companies who are making reuse an asset to themselves and others. The bulk of the book is this Directory followed by Reuse Resources, such as auctions, secondhand stores, borrowing, and donations. There is also a helpful Topic Index, Publishers Reference List, a Definition of Terms, Bibliography, and information on legislation to make Reuse happen.

One suggestion: Since the book was published in the late 1990s, some of the addresses and phone numbers are no longer in use, so you may want to check the Internet or use your local yellow pages for similar resources. You may also want to check David GOldbeck’s blog for updates:

Choose to Reuse is published by Ceres Press and costs $15.95. I plan to use it whenever I am stumped as to what to do with “stuff” I no longer use and refuse to throw out! This book is a great tool for making every day Earth Day.

P.S The Goldbecks list 33 words using “re”, including rebuild, reclaim, rejuvenate, resell, restore, and revitalize. The list gives all readers “food for thought” and could be used in classrooms as a topic for discussion, linking English with Science.


Authors Nikki & David Goldbeck, two of my favorite reference book writers. Feel free to check out my review of another one of their reference books, Healthy Highways. Go to the Archives in the right hand margin, click on 2007, and when the menu drops down, choose August 2007 and click on “Two Great Books to Read and Own” and Healthy Highways should come up.

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