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Posted by Lucy H on 16th Jan 2020

Jen Gale Q&A

The Sustainable(ish) Living GuideJen Gale is the author of The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide, a compendium of information to help everyone tread a little more lightly on the Earth.  We spoke to her about it:

We’re very excited about your book. What prompted it? Did it evolve from your blog?   Several years ago my family and I spent a year buying nothing new, and I started a blog - My Make Do and Mend Year - do document it. At the end of the year I found I’d re-discovered a long buried love of writing and didn’t want to stop! The book originally began life as a kind of memoir of that year, but didn’t get much interest, so in 2018, I revamped the proposal and The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide was born!

Who did you write this book for? I wrote this book essentially for ‘people like me’! It’s the book I would have loved to have had at the start of my journey. It’s for anyone who’s starting to think about the climate crisis, feeling overwhelmed and a bit anxious, who wants to do their bit but isn’t sure where to start, what to do for the best, or if indeed it will even make any difference (it will!).

Who do you think is your typical reader, if such a person exists? Who would you love to read your book?  In the author bio bit of the book blurb I describe myself as an ‘ordinary knackered mum of two’, and I guess that’s who I’ve written it for. Although the advice is applicable to any and all of us, I’m really conscious of the fact that our lives are so busy now, and we’re constantly being bombarded with All The Things we should be doing, and the very last thing I wanted to do was to add to the overwhelm.

What current “environmental” trends do you find helpful or unhelpful?  I think anything that helps to raise awareness around the climate crisis has to be a good thing. One thing I’m personally a little wary of however, is some of the ‘all or nothing’ approaches that exist, which is where I think the ‘ish’ in Sustainable(ish) is so powerful. Yes, we should all be looking to reduce our consumption of meat and increase the amount of ‘plant based’ food we eat, but there’s room for all the shades of grey in between the black and white. I think it can put people off thinking they’ve got to be ‘green’ in a certain way - we all have our own different challenges and circumstances, which means there is very rarely a nice neat ‘one size fits all’ answer to things.

Do you think that a corner has been turned yet with sustainability awareness among the grass roots population?  It’s really starting to feel like it, but having said that, I’m very aware of my social media bubble and the echo chamber that it creates! However, chatting to other parents in the school playground, it does feel like the awareness is getting there, and what we really need now is practical help and advice for things we can all do to help.

It can be pretty overwhelming for someone new to this. What would you recommend them to start doing first?  It is really overwhelming, so pick ONE thing. Plastic is a great place to start as it’s so visible and very tangible. Start off by collecting all your plastic rubbish for a week, then have a poke around, and pick ONE thing to change. The bathroom is often as easier place to start than the kitchen, and see if you can get the rest of the family to join in.

You’re very active on social media. Do you often get to meet your readers?  I’ve done a few talks over the years, and have quite a few events lined up for 2020 - I’m currently putting together a little ‘tour map’!

How do you like to unwind? Do you have any other creative outlets as well as your writing? If not, what would you like to try?   I love reading, but really fell out of the habit while the kids were small, but I’m making a concerted effort to read every day now!  I also ‘enjoy’ running, or at least the smug feeling that comes afterwards...

What are you reading at the moment?  At the moment I’m very belatedly reading Harry Potter! I read a few of them when they came out, and my eldest has read the whole series at least twice, so I thought it was about time I tried to do the same.

Thank you very much for speaking to us, Jen. We wish you every success with the book. You can buy a copy of Jen's book  HERE.

We also look forward to seeing what positive changes we can make in the A Great Read office.