rusq: Vol. 53 Issue 2: p. 196
Sources: America Goes Green: An Encyclopedia of Eco-Friendly Culture in the United States
Paul MacLennan

Reference Assistant, CSU-East Bay Library, Hayward, California

What it means to be green or eco-friendly as an individual, community, or nation is difficult to define or quantify. Concepts like sustainable development, economic justice, and carbon footprint are open to interpretation; and the meaning of these concepts is evolving as society comes to a better understanding of man’s impact on the earth and the need to address all environmental issues. Therefore, any effort to go green on any scale needs to be an informed effort and an encyclopedia like America Goes Green offers a broad, interdisciplinary approach to identifying the issues and making productive decisions.

Editor, Kim Kennedy White and contributing editor, Leslie A. Duram have gathered 160 academic and environmental writers to create a three-volume reference work. Volume one and the first half of volume two are comprised of thematic entries organized under major categories such as “Arts, Entertainment, and Media” and “Food and Drink.” The signed entries are three to six pages in length, include a reference list, and are complimented by black and white photography. A special feature of many of the entries is the inclusion of a sidebar called “greenovation” or “greenovator” which describes individuals or activities related to the issue detailed in the entry. The second half of volume two provides an alphabetical list of primary documents related to environmental issues. These documents include the texts of public laws on clean water, conference proceedings from environmental summits, and informational reports from the Environmental Protection Agency. Volume three is comprised of entries on individual U.S. states that summarize the local environmental issues and describe community efforts and initiatives to lessen the effect of man’s presence or repair the damage done to ecosystems. Volume three also includes a six-page glossary of terms, a twenty-page list of resources with web addresses, and an extensive index.

In her introduction Kim Kennedy White states that this reference work “explores the development of green practices and eco-friendly mindfulness in contemporary American culture. Entries will present the debates, trends, viewpoints, and challenges of green living” (xix). This reviewer would agree with this estimation and add that this work is an important new title on environmental issues where the most current information and research are especially needed to inform the reader.

In comparison, the most recent encyclopedia on a similar topic is Gall and Antone’s Worldmark Encyclopedia of U.S. and Canadian Environmental Issues (Gale Cengage Learning, 2012), which is a one-volume work that describes environmental issues in the United States and Canada at the state or province level. However America Goes Green: An Encyclopedia of Eco-Friendly Culture in the United States offers a broader scope, greater depth, and current perspective on this important societal issue and this reviewer recommends this work for any academic or public library.

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