Simply Green-ish, Me?

comments: 24

Simplygreen_partiesDo you know Danny Seo? I know some of you do. At only 29, he is a most-illustrious and inspiring fellow! An "environmental lifestyle" expert, he promotes a creative, stylish, and eco-friendly way of living that he calls "simply green." I like it.

The very talented and regularly hilarious Felicia Sullivan from Harper Collins sent me a couple of Danny's books, Simply Green Parties and Simply Green Giving, a few weeks ago. I'll admit that I was slightly nervous; I don't really consider myself environmentally friendly. I mean [backpedaling furiously], I don't consider myself unfriendly, not consciously mean or anything like that. But in all the small ways that we have to make choices about what we buy, use, drive, wear, and eat, I will say that I am only vaguely motivated by environmental friendliness. I am more often motivated by something more like "how many things can I manage to worry about and still get what I need to get done, done." I do recycle faithfully, and shop as much as possible at local, independent retailers, and thrift-shop regularly, and occasionally make stuff out of other stuff. But I don't ride my bike anywhere and I have air-conditioning and I eat meat and I am completely baffled about whether to choose "paper" or "plastic" when I've filled up my own brought-from-home shopping bag at the grocery store. And I have no doubt that I make myriad decisions ignorant of their environmental impact all the time. I'm not proud of it; nor do I think I'm particularly unusual. Nevertheless, I do like to think of myself as someone who is interested in actively living a relatively "low-impact" lifestyle, and I am interested, like many of you, in simplifying my life even further, and making deliberate choices about the potential effects of my actions on a larger scale.

So, anyway. Anyway. I was vaguely nervous about receiving the books. I didn't tell Felicia that I was worried she was, er, sending them to the wrong person. I was ready (good lapsed Catholic) to feel more chagrined than inspired, somehow. WRONG. I needn't have had any fear.

Simplygreen_givingDanny Seo is a regular guy, who lives in the regular world. When he writes I feel like he is talking to me, a person who also lives in the regular world, a person full of good intentions but with little money, a finite amount of energy, an imperfect understanding of everything, with forty-five things going on at any given time — and he is talking to me in a completely accessible way. The guy is so nice. Nevertheless, he has made it his mission to understand how the cumulative effect of our small actions yields big results, in ways both good and bad, and he explains it in such a friendly, understanding voice that you come away from the books feeling energized, inspired, and motivated. His voice is that of a very encouraging, very down-to-earth (no pun intended, really) friend who believes I have potential. Who knew I was doing so many things right? Who knew I could so easily be doing so many more?

These books, full of clever, simple projects for entertaining and gift-giving, have a message that goes beyond the collection of charming, individual ideas. All the beautiful (digital) photos are shot with found or thrifted props at Danny's house, and the book itself has been produced with environmentally friendly materials. (There is also something really refreshing about all of it coming from a guy's perspective, I must say.) In a lot of ways, the books do what our favorite blogs do (and Danny has a new blog, too): They show you how to make cool things, and talk about the stories behind the things — but they also include many thoughtful sidebars and resources, along with specific ways to easily become more involved in important environmental causes, and tips to help us develop the habits of conscious eco-friendly living in the smallest of ways. Just knowing about some of them means I will do them.

Felicia, you smarty; turns out you sent the books to the right person after all. Thank you!


Thank you so much for this blog. You sound like me, want to do the right things, but where on my plate does that fall.... I can use paper plates and throw them away or wash my real plates and waste water... things like that can really throw me for a loop. I may have to run to the library this weekend and see what is there.

Thanks so much for the links. I look forward to examining them thoroughly.

I think a lot of us are like you. We do care, but keep forgetting about the issues on a daily basis. Or we're too stressed to try too hard or to look at our actions too closely.

Lately my hubby and I have been talking about getting a compost bin, and I'm open to being inspired about other ways that I can walk softly upon the earth.

Thanks for reminding me :)

felicia kindly offered to send these to me too, but i'm not in the book-review business, so i said no. you, however, did a lovely job. so glad i can come over and borrow them from you sometime! (i can, can't i?)

I mentioned on my blog a week ago about the importance of thrifting and it being quite important on the environmental movement. What's more friendly than using what is already out there. And with so many eco products being very expensive it's nice to have the option of thrifting cheaply and being eco friendly. I think it is great that you are at least confused about the paper or plastic idea. Some people don't even question it. I think having the lifestyle of low impact is definitely a good one and something to be proud of. I have visited Danny's site but have yet to see his books.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who is laughing as you describe Danny Seo's writing style because it sounds like what I would say if I was talking about you! "she writes like she's talking to a completely accessible way...she is so nice...I come away feeling energized, inspired, and motivated...her voice is that of a very encouraging, very down-to-earth friend." Well, I would say all that stuff if I wrote like you at least.

Seriously, the books sound very interesting and I too feel like I want to lessen my impact on the earth without moving to the high country and living in a yurt. I will surely be checking them out.

Just ordered the "Simply Giving" book a few weeks ago. Glad to hear you liked it.

I often feel guilty that I don't do enough green wise.
Small ,simple steps should be easy eh?

didja know about his blog? - lots of great ideas there too.

alicia, he recently posted about "being human" and using bubble wrap like the rest of us - we are all just trying to do the best that we can, aren't we?

thanks again for the lovely post - i look forward to reading what you have to say each day :)

Thanks for the book review--I'll have to check it out!

What a fantastic review - I want to run out and buy both the books you mentioned; he sounds like my kinda guy - I struggle with being green, in that I do try really hard to be environmentally friendly, but sometimes time and circumstance conspire against me. About to get a wormery to compost our kitchen waste, though :D

hm, good review. i'll have to keep my eye out for those.

Only just caught up with your blog after a few days away from the computer. I have been wondering about MSotM for about 2 years now, having read it as a child and recently started wondering what that book was... so, so pleased to know so thank you thank you thank you.

This whole green thing - I would like to think that God having put me here I am not responsible for spoiling his earth while I am here.It's so hard to do so people like Danny (and you, with all your crafting) who show us the way and a real help.

I recently had a quick flick through one of his books at the bookstore. Now i think i need to go back and check it out more. I try to do as many eco friendly things as i can but sometimes i forget or find it hard to have the time to do it all. I need to make a better effort.

Thanks for the info! I'm putting his books in my wishlist right now. I'm really trying to be green these days.

Alicia.....I just got done looking at your studio pics on your flicker account and must say it is "DELIGHTFUL". Love the colors and the sunny atmosphere! It looks like you have your vintage table up on blocks to use as a cutting table! Can't really tell from your photo! Love the knitted bird, the fabric and all the lovelies......Thanks for sharing!

I have had these on my wishlist since I saw the cover ("they had me at the cover"). You've sealed the deal.

Cool review, thanks for the heads up, I've added them to my wishlist, and can't wait to check them out.

Thanks to you, Alicia, I've got Danny's blog bookmarked and one of his books on my Amazon wish list! My hubby & I have been trying to go greener now these last couple years and any info/tips are a great help & inspiration. Thanks for always posting about terrific things, and in this case, bringing up a timely matter for us all to ponder! Happy Days! :o)

You are an absolute doll, seriously :) I'm really glad (apart from my day job) to have found your auspicious website, which has been inspiring me on a daily basis, and to find a fellow Ina fan to boot!

Keep rocking out, girl!
Cheers, Felicia

I love reading your blog because it is beautiful and because it makes me think. This post especially really made me think a lot. My first thought after seeing the titles of those books was that if you really want to be eco friendly, you will do none of the things in the book (easy to say not having read the books) and just entertain and give gifts without any decorating, wrapping, buying, or spending, except on the food or gift itself. When I have people over for dinner or a party, I don't really decorate at all, cheaper and much more eco friendly. My family don't really give gifts to eachother, we know how much we love each other already.

Then I remembered how other people can be really quite different than me. I think we sometimes assume that other people are more or less like us in their thought processes, even if the outward appearances are quite varied. My in-laws for example, give us lots of christmas presents, even though we tell them not to. They are usually things we do not want, so not only do they waste their money buying the presents, but the wrapping is a waste, and then I give the gifts to goodwill...

Anyway, I guess for people who do like to decorate and wrap and put all sorts of extras on their presents and in their lives, these books would be wonderful for their ability to increase awareness and thoughtfulness about the little things we do in life and how they can have an impact.

Thank you for the thought-provoking post.

Dear Alicia,

Thanks for the lovely comments. What a nice surprise to find this!

On my blog, I've been posting some craft project ideas from both books that didn't quite make the cut, but I felt were still good little gems that some people might like to try. My whole philosophy is really simple: green living can be gorgeous, too. And fun! And easy! I think it's safe to say we ALL want a healthier, mores sustainable planet. But the difference here is I don't want people to be miserable trying to be green!

Danny Seo is one of my favorite authors on the topic of "green". He's great for the average jane who wants to be more respectful of mamma earth but still be able to enjoy the creature comforts! And his crafty ideas are so inspiring---especially when he takes an old sweater and re-covers a dining room chair. Gotta love it!

Oooh, I'm so jealous that you already have the Giving book! I'm a new fan of Danny's and can't wait for his next book to be available. I was truly stunned by how simple yet creative and fun his ideas were; I get a little jaded by so many of the new crafty books out there - more of the same just different fabric. He's an original he is!

Thanks for this post. I will be checking out Danny's books... wonder if they have them at the library? Off to check.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at