One memorable television highlight from the 1970s was the situation comedy The Good Life. The set-up was simple: in the suburb of Surbiton in Surrey, England, a pair of couples – Tom and Barbara Good and Jerry and Margot Leadbetter – lived next door to one another – with all the comedy value primarily revolving around their interaction.
To the horror of Jerry and Margot, Tom gives up his comfortable but uninspiring office job to attempt to become completely self-sufficient. We journey with the Goods through times of initial difficulties, hardships and occasional finger-pointing (‘I told you so’ was generally the riposte of Jerry and Margot to any little setback). But as the series progresses and their dream becomes more tangible, the Goods appear less and less like misguided but brave fools, and more and more like they are holding the winning ticket. Their health, humour and well-being knock socks off their affluent but unfulfilled friends next door.
Shows like The Good Life – as well as books such as John Seymour’s classic Self-Sufficiency, published in 1976 – were pioneering, pointing to the need to scale down consumption long before it became trendy. These days, one is more likely to win an award than be castigated as an old hippy for flying the flag for sustainability. What was once a trickle in the tide is now a flood, with a glut of books on the subject. Sublime looks at three designed to help the transition to a more self-reliant way of life.
A GUIDE TO ECO-FREINDLY EMPLOYMENT
by A. Bronwyn Llewellyn (Adams Media) £9.99
Looking for a change of direction in your career, thinking about starting your own business or simply curious about eco-friendly industries? This is the book for you. From retail, products and services to energy, transportation, building, organisations and NGOs, Green Jobs shows how sustainability now occupies the ground of the mainstream. It points to the education and training needed to break into emerging eco-fields, and provides opportunities for starting your own green business. Informative fact boxes and quirky quotes pepper the text and help keep it fresh, while Bronwyn Llewellyn explains how the US got to where it is and where it’s headed. So if you want to give up that dull office job and become a wind-farm technician, a travel counsellor or a solar installer, then look no further for inspiration.
A MODERN GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE LIVING
by Tom Petherick (Avora) £12.99
A passionate advocate of small-scale farming and of renewing contact between people and the land, Tom Petherick sets out to educate, inspire and encourage the process of change towards a simpler and more sustainable way of living. Easy to digest sections on Slow Food, sourcing and buying local food, the state of agriculture today and human-scale organic growing methods are followed by everything you need to know about getting started in allotment or garden space. Informative and attractively designed sections on vegetable and soft fruit growing are handily interspersed with recipes, while sections on wild food and animals – from keeping poultry and bees to goats and pigs – cater for the more serious enthusiast. Even finding time to discuss issues such as community and energy, Sufficient takes the subject of sustainability from the niche to the mainstream in a personable and authoritative way that can’t be recommended highly enough.
by Sandy Halliday (Butterworth- Heinemann) £29.99
With sustainable development now the stated policy of local, national and international government, as well as much industry and commerce, Sandy Halliday’s exhaustive and technical publication is a great achievement. Coveringwideareasfromhow to enhance biodiversity, support communities and use resources effectively, to minimising pollution and stewarding projects, Sustainable Construction is a significant resource for architects, engineers, clients and costs professionals committed to reversing unsustainable trends in construction and design. And since our own physical and economic health and well-being is affected by the built environment around us, that can only be a good thing.