The Armchair Environmentalist is filled with wisdom for those who want to live an environmentally responsible life. For example, simply saying no to bottled water will save energy and measurably reduce carbon emissions. Karen Christensen has incorporated more environmental advice in this crisp, tightly written volume than in anything I’ve seen to date.”–Lester R. Brown, President, Earth Policy Institute and author of Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble.

I’m glad to have Les Brown’s blessing on my advice about water, because a friend complained about it the other day. We’ve really been persuaded that bottled water is purer and healthier and somehow part of what someone recently referred to as ‘conscious living.’ This is simply not so–just Google for references to studies on this–but that doesn’t mean it’s a hard habit to break. Yet practically, in western nations, it’s dead easy to carry a bottle and refill it from time to time (if you don’t lose things all the time, as I do, there are even beautiful stainless steel water bottles that’ll keep water cold in the desert).

Even here in London, the tap water’s perfectly okay. Used to be that there were separate taps for drinking water, and you weren’t supposed to drink from the bathroom tap either, because water was stored in houses in big murky vats in the attic, to get a little pressure I think. No more. You can even take showers here now.

karen christensen's corona typewriter on t s eliot's desk

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