EARTH DAY 1990 spawned a whole library of ``how to'' books on protecting the environment. ``Think globally, act locally'' is their theme, and your home and backyard - and most of all your conscience - are their target. Polls say the vast majority of us would pay the cost of a cleaner environment. For those willing to put their effort where their mouth is, here are four books worth exploring: The Global Ecology Handbook: What You Can Do About the Environmental Crisis (Boston: Beacon, $16.95, paper) is a doorstopper packed with information, advice, and enough footnotes and suggested readings to constitute a program of graduate studies. It is marketed as the ``practical supplement to the PBS series `Race to Save the Planet''' that ran last fall on public television. It covers the full range of environmental problems - climate change, toxic waste, tropical forests, population, etc. - with plenty of advice on how the individual can make a difference.
The Green Lifestyle Handbook: 1001 Ways You Can Heal the Earth (New York: Henry Holt, $10.95, paper) is edited by author and activist Jeremy Rifkin. Writers include Francis Moore Lapp'e (author of ``Diet For a Small Planet''), Maria Rodale and the late Robert Rodale of Rodale Press, geneticist Wes Jackson, head of the National Toxics Campaign John O'Connor, and United States Rep. Claudine Schneider (R) of Rhode Island, who has written many environmental bills in Congress. Among the subjects covered are household toxics, transportation, recycling, diet, gardening, personal investments, health care, environmental law, and community organizing. Each chapter includes tips for the individual and family, plus where to go for more information.
Home Ecology: Simple and Practical Ways to Green Your Home (Golden, Colo.: Fulcrum Publishing, $15.95, paper) is by Karen Christensen, a young journalist and mother of two whose family divides its time between London and Boulder, Colo. Her working assumption is that ``many of us want to make substantial changes and simply need to know where to start.'' What's needed, she stresses, is not just better buying but ``beginning the process of long-term change to a sustainable way of life.'' There are plenty of practical steps for home and neighborhood here, including your pets.
Save the Animals! 101 Easy Things You Can Do (New York: Warner Books, $4.95, paper) is a how-to book strictly for the birds ... and the bees and the weasels and the toads and all the other critters. It is written by Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder and director of the animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Newkirk is a former humane officer who has seen the worst aspects of how humans treat other animals in the laboratory, in the field, and on the farm. Her basic philosophy is that animals ``are not inferior to human beings but rather just different from us, and that they really don't exist for us nor do they belong to us.'' The chapters are short, with problem, solution, and resources clearly presented. Prepare to give up furs, leather, and most cosmetics, and to move toward vegetarianism if you read this hard-hitting book.