Lawrence author Pam Grout doesn't claim to be an expert on the environment, but she knows this for sure: Her latest book couldn't be much more earth-friendly.
Due to hit local bookstore shelves just in time for Earth Day on April 20, the 64-page book is printed entirely on recycled grocery bags and other paper pulled from the trash.
Grout's idea for "Recycle This Book and 72 1/2 Even Better Ways to Save 'Yo Momma' Earth" sprouted during a February visit to McDonald's with her 8-year-old daughter, Tasman, and a friend. Grout noticed just how much trash she and the youngsters created in their single fast-food outing.
"It just came to me that I really wanted to do something," Grout said.
That something turned into hours of research, which translated into 72 1/2 tips on how to sustain the planet. It also turned into lots of Monday afternoon trips to the Lawrence Recycling Center to gather the raw material for her self-published book.
Woodlawn School's Brownie Troop No. 613 helped Grout collect the bags, and she cut up enough of them to create covers and 63 pages for 250 copies of the book. The printer ended up using a combination of recycled paper bag stock and Grout's hand-cut bags to print the interior pages. Grout's original plans to produce 1,000 copies dwindled when she realized how much work it involved.
Still, Grout said, it would have been impossible for a big publishing house on such short notice to get the book out by Earth Day, so she decided to do it herself.
The book is full of "gee-whiz" factoids Grout hopes will get people thinking about the effect their actions, or inactions, have on the planet.
For instance, she writes that Americans toss out enough glass every two weeks to rebuild both 1,350-foot World Trade Center towers. Americans also make up 5 percent of the Earth's population, yet create 30 percent of its waste.
"There is a reason for us to think about our footprint on the planet," she said.
Grout doesn't cite facts and then leave readers pondering what to do. She also offers tips for how humans can do better.
The sassiest of those tips encourage people to "Recognize that SUV stands for Sorry Ugly Vehicle" and to "Impeach George Bush." Others, like "Sing Shorter Shower Songs," appeal to humor.
"I kind of wanted it to have some attitude," Grout said.
Among the most practical advice: buy products with less packaging; compost food products; and recycle all aluminum, newspaper, tin cans and cardboard.