Q&A: Author Talks Simple Tips to Protect the Planet

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The author of a new book about protecting the planet is encouraging us to think “simple.”

Simple, as in picking a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic version. Simple, as in avoiding running errands during rush hour traffic. Simple, as in positioning your refrigerator away from direct sunlight.

Simple Acts to Save Our Planet, released today, provides 500 easy-to-accomplish feats that are kind to the environment. Many of the recommendations may be incorporated almost effortlessly into a daily routine.

We chatted with the author, Michelle Neff of Asheville, North Carolina, to get a peek at what’s between the covers.

“Simple Acts to Save Our Planet” is sold in hardcover and e-book editions.

Earth911: What attracted you to environmental protection?
Michelle Neff: I’ve always been interested in environmental issues since a young age. I remember reading a book when I was around 10 about how kids can get involved in environmental protection and I was so shocked to learn facts on landfills that I convinced my family to start recycling every week.

Earth911: For this book, why are you focusing on “simple” acts?
Neff: With small, easy, simple steps that everyone can do in their everyday life, helping the planet doesn’t feel overwhelming.

Environmental writer Michelle Neff

Earth911: What are some of your personal favorites?
Neff: The suggestions where kids could get involved, such as planting a tree, riding a bike, volunteering, etc.,  are my favorite because I think it’s important to teach children how to protect the environment. They are our future leaders.

Earth911: What is the simplest tip in your 500?
Neff: That’s a tough one. There are hundreds of tips in the book that people can start doing today. Turning the faucet off when brushing your teeth is probably one of the simplest tips in the book, though.

Earth911: Are there simple acts you incorporated into your routine while writing the book?
Neff: I’ve added a bat house to my yard after researching how critical bats are to our ecosystem. Bats are pollinators and can also eat thousands of bugs in just one night, meaning farmers don’t have to use as much pesticides. They are really fascinating animals.

Earth911: What are examples of simple acts that people already know but ignore, and why?
Neff: Lowering your meat consumption has gained interest within the [past] few years, but many still don’t realize the connection between what’s on their plate and the environmental impact. With the world’s population predicted to grow to 9.8 billion by 2050, it’s not sustainable to continue feeding the world with a diet heavy in meat and dairy.

Earth911: What would you say to people who think that a simple act won’t make a significant difference?
Neff: There are definitely some simple acts that have a larger impact than others, but that doesn’t mean that the others aren’t important. Even if you do five of the suggestions in the book, those small acts add up. Plus, your friends, family and co-workers will see how easy it is to help the planet and they will be inspired to join you.

Earth911: What is the wackiest, funniest or oddest simple act in your book?
Neff: There is a tip about only flushing the toilet when necessary. That tip definitely depends on where you are!

Earth911: What are examples of simple steps that people may not be familiar with, and excited to try?
Neff: There are many steps that probably don’t occur to most people, such as using a handkerchief instead of tissues to cut back on waste. There are tons of easy things we can do right this very minute; all you have to do is think creatively.

Simple Acts to Save Our Planet, published by Adams Media, a division of Simon & Schuster, is sold at various stores and online businesses, including AmazonSimon & Schuster and Barnes & Noble. The price is $14.99 for hardcover and $9.99 for the e-book. Paper for the book, according to a spokeswoman,  is certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative standard and uses 20 percent recycled materials.

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Patti Roth

Patti began her writing career as a staff writer for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Still based in Florida, Patti serves as editor for Fort Lauderdale on the Cheap. She regularly writes about environmental, home improvement, education, recycling, art, architecture, wildlife, travel and pet topics.