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Green Chic: Eco-friendly doesn't mean unfashionable

Lately, it seems like everybody is concerned about ecology. "Being green" is stylish, and recycling is de rigueur. The big buzz is about leaving a smaller carbon footprint. You're concerned about that, too, but is it wrong to want to leave a smaller footprint while wearing really cute shoes?

The answer is no, and in the new book, Green Chic by Christie Matheson, you'll see that being fashionable and looking great can be green, no matter what color looks best on you.

So you want to do your part for ecology, but just getting started freaks you out a little bit. Matheson says being green is not difficult, and even baby steps can make a difference. Turn off the light when you leave the room, for instance, and use CFL light bulbs when you have to leave them on. Even reducing your shower time and your dry time can save tons of carbon dioxide.

Okay, now you're committed. This going-green stuff doesn't make you blue after all, so you're ready for the next step. Matheson says to take a look at the popular products you use around the house. All those chemicals are bad for you in a dozen ways. There are cleaners that are eco-friendly and cost a little more than big-name-brands, but not by much. Use those instead. The same goes for cosmetics.

Did you know that over 2 million tons of carpet is discarded -- not recycled -- each year? Matheson says to skip carpet when it's time for new flooring, and go with something natural. Be mindful of the paint you use to spiff up a room, and never buy anything vinyl, including wallpaper and shower curtains.

All this is great, you're saying, but if you have to give up your favorite clothes to be green, you're going to see red. Matheson says that, first of all, being green doesn't mean replacing everything you own. It means you should shop smart when the time comes for new things, and recycle the old. Consider vintage or buy organic as much as possible, and be hyper-aware of where it all came from.

Give up your car if you can. Serve organic wine for parties and eat locally produced food. Clean out your closet. Pass up bags when you buy. Know which plastics are recyclable and avoid those that aren't. And remember that being green doesn't have to put you in a black mood.

Sound familiar? Pretty much, yes, but it's not what's said in Green Chic, so much as how it's said.

Author Christie Matheson's style of writing is breezy and Carrie-Bradshaw-ish, with funny asides and useful sidebars, decent tips hidden in corny jokes, and boiled-down information for the busy fashionista who wants to do good. While the "green" part of this book is the same old stuff, the presentation makes it worth the price.

If you want to do your part in saving the earth, but can't bear to part with your earth-toned Choos, pick up Green Chic. Missing it will leave you positively purple.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of the Detroit Lakes Newspapers book review column, "The Bookworm Sez." Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was three years old, and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives in West Salem, Wis., with her two dogs and 9,000 books.