Bothered By My Green Conscience: How an SUV-driving, Imported-Strawberry-Eating Urban Dweller Can Go Green


160 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations
ISBN 978-0-86571-646-9
DDC 333.72092





Reviewed by Melanie St-Onge


This collection of visual essays boils down the green debate to a few essentials. Artist Franke James starts off with a somewhat counter-intuitive precept: Do the hardest thing first, before you change your mind. In James's case, this means selling the family SUV. Future changes seem less daunting when the hardest thing has already been accomplished. James follows up with essays on pairing down her closet to include only her most fabulous outfits and the long road to turning her Toronto driveway into a garden.

James also includes a piece discussing a debate between Malcolm Gladwell and Mark Kingwell where the two philosophize about what motivates people to change their habits. The conclusion of this conversation is somewhat hopeful but James never condescends to outright optimism. The strength of this piece lies in its realism. In fact, the strength of this book is its ability to marry whimsy, through bright photos and illustrations, with a realistic depiction of the state of our environment and the importance of changing our individual and collective ways.

The final visual essay in this collection is a letter to James's future grandchildren. An appeal to our sense of intergenerational responsibility, this essay is particularly effective. James acknowledges the uphill battle ahead as we attempt to change our ways in time to avoid environmental catastrophes that will undoubtedly affect our children and our grandchildren more than they will affect us. However, she ends on a hopeful note, promising that she will have done her best to make the world a better and safer place for her grandchildren. Ultimately inspiring in its simple message of hope and accountability, this collection of visual essays is a welcome addition to the ever-expanding green genre.


James, Franke, “Bothered By My Green Conscience: How an SUV-driving, Imported-Strawberry-Eating Urban Dweller Can Go Green,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 18, 2024,