Brad Pitt’s biodegradable body wash, WWF’s scare tactics and the truth about organic food prices

Whew! Sorry for the longwinded headline there, folks, but I wanted to point everyone in the direction of a few stories I wrote recently for the National Post‘s Footprint blog and my Sense & Sustainability column.

One is about the dilemma most greenies face over and over again: whether or not to applaud companies who try to sell environmentally friendly products, even if said products are inherently pretty un-green to begin with (and yes, this is where my 30-second interview with Mr. Pitt comes in… he helped develop a “biodegradable” body wash with Kiehl’s).

Another is about the recent wave of scary global warming ad campaigns. There’s the creepy Unscrew America illustrations with emaciated falcon people, Greenpeace posters (which admittedly are always pretty disturing) featuring melted snowmen with the tagline “Winter: You’ll miss it when it’s gone,” and World Wildlife Fund ads depicting people with fish heads, rivers emerging from dirty buckets and so on (below). Is this really the most effective tack to take?

And finally, I tried to figure out whether eating a sustainable diet was more expensive than buying conventional groceries. There were a few too many uncontrollable variables, however the fact remains that local fruit and vegetables are always cheaper than meat. Am I right?

Feel free to weigh in on any of these topics…

In the mean time, despite everyone’s efforts to come up with a book title for me, it looks fairly certain that Sleeping Naked is Green is what the publishers (at least the American ones) choose. So if you’re not too embarrassed to be seen reading it on the subway each morning, let me know, and I’ll make sure you get a copy! I promise it’s not flighty or boring or too self-indulgent; plus, Crunchy Chicken, Treehugger and even a few of my dedicated readers make a cameo in it, which means it has to be worth a quick skim at the very least…

39 Responses to Brad Pitt’s biodegradable body wash, WWF’s scare tactics and the truth about organic food prices

  1. Bethany says:

    Oooh, I would be happy to be seen reading Sleeping Naked is Green in the subway. Is that because I’m an American? After living overseas for 18 years, I can conclude and emphatic “Yes!” Congratulations! After following your blog for so long, I am looking forward to a peek at the book!

  2. Lisa says:

    I can’t wait for your book to come out! I’m from Alberta (and we all know this province needs a little ‘greening up’) so I’ll gladly flash the cover on the subway! And bus, and blog, and library…

  3. Rebekka says:

    I’m really looking forward to reading your book, although in Australia we don’t have subways, and since last week I was reading a book (for uni) on the train called Vaginal Politics: A midwife’s story, I have lost all sense of shame regarding book titles and trains, and will be proud to read yours publically!

  4. Green Me says:

    My only option for alternative transport is a bike…and I haven’t figured out how to read and ride 😉 but maybe I will get a few looks if my toddler son is reading it in the bike trailer? I’ve never actually looked forward to reading a book pre-release, so this is fun. Congratulations!

  5. Eeek! I can’t wait to see the book. This just might qualify as book club material 🙂 When will it be out?

  6. Teartaye says:

    I agree with Lisa.

    Plus, I’m just utterly shameless when it comes to stuff like that (those harmless things that don’t hurt anyone, but most people avoid because of what someone else might think of them). 😀 Bring it on!

  7. I wish it were the case but with all the subsidizing from the government- often a packet of ground beef is cheaper than local organic apples. Horrific but true.

  8. Jessica McIntyre says:

    I live in a Boise, Idaho and we are in desperate need of better public transportation but I will represent you proud reading your book on the bus. Maybe with a title like that it will finally bring more peoples attention to how important being green is. When does the book come out? I am really excited. I found your blog after you stopped writing on a regular basis so the book will be an awesome catch up.

  9. dinsky says:

    Up here in Hanover, Ontario we don’t exactly have a subway, however, I’d be more than happy to sit and read your book in one of our lovely parks!

    Heck, I’ll even write a book review for my eco-blog at!

    Looking forward to it!

  10. Brian McCain says:

    I think we need to move beyond these shock tactic ad campaigns. They haven’t worked in the past, and I don’t believe they will work in the future for the simple reason that people don’t like to be told that they are in the wrong. We must be able to come of with some positive, humourous way of getting the message out that we need change!

    Looking forward to the book.

  11. debbie says:

    I can’t wait. When will it be out? I can think of a few in my family that would enjoy it for Christmas. I concur, creativity and humor can go a long way to promote an important change.

  12. Carol says:

    I have learned so much through your posts and I’m really look forward to the book! I’d keep it on my desk at work….that should start a few conversations around the water cooler!

  13. Stef says:

    Your book sounds very interesting. I would love to read it.

  14. Doe syour offer include overseas readers?

  15. grumpygreenoldman says:

    wicked poster – I have printed it off and stuck it over the copier!

  16. Barbara says:

    Lemme get this straight… you think it’s a waste of paper to send tampax to Africa for young women and that they should instead use washable sanitary towels (because you seem to think clean water is unlimited in Africa???)… but it’s okay for you to write in newsprint and publish books…

    Why not confine your manifesto to online?

  17. Vanessa says:

    Haha, yeah, it’s definitely nowhere near as provocative a title as Vaginal Politics, Rebekka! And dinsky, I will definitely get you a very special advance copy, “for review purposes”, as they say in the biz. And Barbara — actually, I never said sending Tampax to Africa was a waste of PAPER; it’s actually more a waste of cotton. Bleached cotton, actually. And what bothers me about that has to do with the fact that tampon materials are disposable, unlike newspapers, which are recyclable (and made from recycled paper to begin with). My book will also be printed on recycled paper with soy or vegetable based inks, shipped in recyclable packaging and we’re currently looking into offsetting the whole production. Way better than tampons (plus, tampons don’t come with useful information about environmental issues).

  18. Going Green says:

    Wow, that is some scary stuff. I can’t believe the green movement has gone to this level. It was really good before, but now they’re just getting desperate.

  19. just ducky says:

    I can’t wait to read it! Your blog that year was always a highlight in my day!

  20. Hellcat13 says:

    Ha, I was totally going to beg for an ARC…I can put my editing eye to the task 😉 And I’d still buy a pretty copy!

  21. Gràcia says:

    Will we be able to get it in Spain? How about an ebook?

  22. Stephanie says:

    Interesting to compare the groceries and to have them all from the same store. I liked that. I hope you’ll try it again sometime!

  23. Noelle says:

    I loved following your journey and would be honored to be seen reading your book!

  24. Heather says:

    Vanessa, this is so exciting! I, too, would be honored to be seen reading your book. 🙂 When does it come out? I think the title is great, because it will provoke questions from friends and even strangers!

  25. Hi Vanessa. I loved your first article about how eco eco-schwag can ever actually be. A number of us dealt with this issue at the recent Blogher conference in San Francisco.

    And I love the title of the book and would have no problem reading it in public!


  26. a.f. says:

    I love the title of your book — but how is sleeping naked green?

    I would think that sleeping naked transfers body oils to your sheets more readily that if you were wearing pj’s, thereby causing you to wash them more often, etc. etc. just want to learn.

    thanks for keeping up with the posts. i love reading them! 🙂

  27. Ave says:

    Any chance the book will be available by Christmas? I told my husband the title and he wants a copy as a Christmas present, because it will be fun to see the looks on our parents’ faces when he unwraps it.

    Glad that you continue to add new posts.

  28. emma says:

    How about… Sleeping Naked is Green, but so is general daytime nakedness….for your sequel? I could picture julia stiles playing you in a movie. That or Rachel McAdams. 🙂

  29. Taphophile says:

    Excellent, I’ll put a copy in the library at our local nudist club – they’ll love it!

  30. Oldnovice says:

    I want the scoop on the book, too. When will it be available?

    I was just ruminating while looking at my environment folder on how your blog was the first I came across so long ago. Gave a click for old time’s sake and here you are with a recent post … about your book. Thank you.

  31. Lisa De-lurks says:

    Congratulations on a title and impending publication and count me in as one who would be fine with — nay, *damn proud* — to read a tome so finely-titled!

  32. Vanessa

    Not sure how I found your site but I did.

    I write a Green Day piece every Tuesday about how to be practically green on my blog Serge the Concierge.

    Take care

    ‘The French Guy from New Jersey’

  33. I’m very excited and anxiously awaiting your book, congratulations!

  34. Alyssa says:

    sleeping naked is green sounds like an awesome name! i would love to be seen reading that! =P cant wait till its out!

  35. Carly says:

    i love the title!
    and while there is no subway in waterloo
    ill bring it on the bus!
    and itll annoy my bf sooooo much
    he calls me a hippe all of the time!
    so bring on the books!

  36. skywaykate says:

    I’ll totally flash it in the skyways in Saint Paul, Minnesota when I’m walking to get my coffee and on my way to work!

    Can’t wait to read it!

  37. Laurene says:

    In the 1970s it was “save water, shower with a friend.” I think these days its is “stop global warming, sleep with a friend,” though naked is superfluous (though maybe more interesting.) Why? Here in CHicago residential heating and cooling are the greatest areas of potential reduction of carbon emissions. So, we (I) have suggested that we be more nomadic in our life styles. Surely you have a friend who keeps the house deliciously cool in summer and toasty warm in winter. Keep your own heat down in the coldest winter days by sleeping at their house and do the same on the hottest days of summer. I love your blog. Check us out on We are family (like it our not).

  38. Dahlia says:

    woohoo! i’d been checking in to see if you were adding posts, but then i lost hope… and there you are again!!!! Sleeping naked is Green could be a little embarassing, but then again it might get people in the bus and metro intrigued!!

  39. Larae says:

    Good post. I’m dealing with a few of these issues
    as well..

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