Cover image for The organic suburbanite : an environmentally friendly way to live the American dream
The organic suburbanite : an environmentally friendly way to live the American dream
Schultz, Warren.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Emmaus, PA : Rodale ; [New York] : Distributed in the book trade by St. Martin's Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
viii, 158 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
SB453.5 .S556 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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An award-winning garden writer demystifies the world of organics with his trademark wit and extensive horticulture knowledge in this comprehensive guide to protecting the environment while living in the suburbs. Full-color photos.

Author Notes

Warren Schultz is the author of "The Chemical-Free Lawn" & "A Man's Turf," among other books. He also served as the editor in chief of "National Gardening" & the features editor of "Garden Design."

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Organic home-care aficionado Warren Schultz (A Man's Garden) presents The Organic Suburbanite: A Swell New Way to Live the American Dream. With an aw-shucks retro style and enthusiasm, Schultz breaks down indoor and outdoor suburban living into manageable arenas for environmentally responsible practice. Ever wondered how to clean your stove, unclog drains, discourage pests, care for your car, disinfect counter tops or bleach clothes in ways that won't damage your health or your environment? Schultz addresses it all. His matter-of-fact approach eschews ideological discourse and gets down to brass tacks (or their recyclable, eco-friendly counterpart). B&w photos. (Aug. 8) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Published by a champion of living lightly, this green guide for suburbanites liberally uses sidebars and 1950s photos to convey important information without being didactic. Part 1 focuses on household management, providing tips that are supported by concrete examples. For instance, a recommendation to buy efficient washing machines is paired with an alert stating that a typical family uses 240 gallons of water weekly on laundry. Part 2 deals with the hallmarks of suburbia: automobiles and outdoor living areas. Schultz gently points out the environmental impact of cars, offering reasonable alternatives like more dutiful maintenance, alternative driveway surfaces, and nontoxic ice melters. Less utilitarian outdoor spaces like decks and swimming pools are covered, too. A third of the book is devoted to organic lawn and garden suggestions. Though the book is marketed toward suburbanites, most of the information, which includes recommended reading and resource lists, could just as easily be used in a rural or urban household. More narrowly focused than Diane MacEachern's Save Our Planet (LJ 3/1/90. p.o.d.), this is still a useful book. Recommended for all public libraries. Bonnie Poquette, Shorewood P.L., WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One The kitchen is the heart and soul of the home, the source of nourishment for family and friends, the place where we tend to gather. Even in the busiest families, someone's always stopping in to grab a quick breakfast or a late-night snack. Do you really need any other reasons to make it more organic? Analyze Your Appliance Efficiency. A lot of energy is expended in the kitchen, not necessarily by the chief cook and bottle washer, but by our appliances. Ironically, most of that energy goes to cool things down, and then to heat them up. In fact, more electricity is consumed--and probably wasted--in the kitchen than in any other room of the house. So the best thing you can do in there, environmentally speaking, is to make sure your appliances are operating properly and that you're using them wisely.     If you're buying appliances, always look for the "Energy Star" label. This United States Department of Energy designation is awarded to appliances that exceed minimum government standards for energy conservation. Energy Star labels may he found on clothes washers, refrigerators, dishwashers, and room air conditioners. An appliance receives the Energy Star rating if it is significantly more energy efficient than the minimum government standards, as determined by standard testing procedures. The amount by which an appliance must exceed the government standards is different for each product type rated. Is Your Refrigerator Running? The fridge is the biggest electricity hog in the house. A typical self-defrosting refrigerator uses more than 1,200 kilowatts of electricity per year. That's more than a clothes dryer and dishwasher combined. It's even more than the amount of electricity used to light a typical house for an entire year. If your refrigerator is more than 15 years old, it's a good time to start shopping for a new Energy Star model to replace it. You'll recover the cost of the new appliance in energy savings within just a few years. Improved insulation and better compressors mean that most late-model Energy Star refrigerators exceed the current minimum energy use standards by at least 20 percent.     Even if you keep your old icebox, make sure it's running at its best. Check the seal to make sure that the cold air is staying inside where it belongs. Place a dollar bill against the jamb while closing the door. If the bill slips to the floor, the seal needs to be replaced.     Check the temperature. Make sure the machine isn't working any harder than it needs to. The most efficient operation occurs at an interior temperature of 38° to 42°F. Your refrigerator will work most efficiently if you keep the freezer full and if you clean the coils thoroughly every 6 months. At Home with Your Range. An oven is not a particularly efficient beast, and electric ovens are especially inefficient. If you're buying new and if you have the option, you should always choose gas--either natural or propane--for your range. Both types of gas ranges are about twice as efficient as electric in converting energy to heat for cooking.     Don't overlook the much-maligned microwave as a way of conserving energy. Though it is not the miracle appliance it was once touted to be, microwaving is a very efficient way to cook some dishes, especially casseroles. Zapping a dish in a microwave for a few minutes is much more energy-wise than heating an entire oven for 2 hours. By the same token, it's smarter to heat a little toaster oven than a huge range. Let the Diswasher Do It. Somewhere along the line, you've probably heard that automatic dishwashers are tremendous water wasters. Most people assume that the most efficient way to wash dishes is the good old-fashioned way, by hand. Neither of these assumptions is true. Hand washing, with the water running, can consume up to 20 gallons of water for a typical sink full of dishes. Using a standard dishwasher, you'll use about 10 to 15 gallons of water per load. But new energy-efficient dishwashers require as few as 5 gallons of water to clean up a load of dirty dishes. And using less water also means less electricity or gas is required to heat the water. Just make sure to run the machine only when you have a full load-- and when there's no one in the shower. Life's a Bleach. Chlorine is ubiquitous in the kitchen. You'll find it as an ingredient in--or as a manufacturing component of--scores of items, from countertop cleansers to dishwasher detergents to bleached coffee filters. (If yon don't see the word "chlorine," it may be masquerading on the ingredients list as hypochlorite or sodium hypochlorite.)     Despite its widespread use, there are two problems associated with chlorine bleach. First, its manufacture creates a soup of hazardous and polluting chemicals, including the very toxic dioxin. Second, you may be exposed to dioxins and other chlorine compounds in the product as they leach out. Chlorine was listed as a hazardous air pollutant by the 1990 Clean Air Act, and federal standards govern workers' exposure to chlorine. Exposure to chlorine compounds has been implicated in birth defects, cancer, and developmental disorders.     You can help protect the environment by avoiding bleached paper products whenever possible. Shop for paper towels, napkins, paper plates, and coffee filters that are either unbleached or bleached with safe, nonchlorine products, such as hydrogen peroxide or sodium hydrosulfite. Good Intentions Down the Drain. There's nothing like a clogged drain to cause compromises. When the sink is plugged and dishes are piling up, when company is coming or somebody is waiting for the shower, expediency is the rule. We have to get that drain open, come hell or high water. So we reach for the liquid clog remover, let our environmental concerns flow down the drain, and choose not to think about what toxic chemicals we're pouring down the drain--or where they go from there. We'd rather not know where that stuff winds up or what it might do to the septic system, groundwater, or lakes and streams when it reaches them.     Truth is, most drain cleaners contain lye (sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide), a very caustic toxin that pollutes water and destroys beneficial bacteria in sewers and sewage treatment plants. When mixed with water, lye is extremely corrosive and will eat through almost anything. That's what makes it such an effective drain opener--it's also what makes it a dangerous poison with no antidote. Using drain cleaners with lye causes breakdowns in the natural sewage decomposition system. Consequently, there's a greater risk of releasing harmful bacteria into the environment. Lye also creates a toxic gas when mixed with chlorine.     Fortunately, though, there are other options you can use to solve your drainage woes, including a few simple preventive measures. For grease buildups, try this natural, safe, and effective approach: Pour 1/2 cup each of salt and baking soda down the clogged drain. Chase it with 6 cups of boiling water and allow it to work for several hours before flushing the drain with warm water. Last Resorts. In spite of our best intentions, clogs happen. Here are some safe ways to handle them. • Slither in. If the sink or toilet is blocked, carefully try to unclog the drain with a plumber's snake. • Go deep. If the clog is in a sink, take apart the drain catch and remove the obstruction. • Use water power. Although water from the faucet may not generate enough pressure to clear that clog, water from your garden hose might. Run a garden hose into the sink. Remove any strainers or screens. and force the end of the hose into the drain as far as possible. Wrap rags around the hose at the drain for a decent seal. Have someone turn on the water, full-blast. The force of the water may be enough to clear the clog. Then again, it may not, so make sure your assistant is ready to turn the water off in a hurry. • Also see page 24 for other nontoxic methods for clearing out clogged drains. Excerpted from THE ORGANIC SUBURBANITE by WARREN SCHULTZ. Copyright © 2001 by Warren Schultz. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.