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The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from The Union of Concerned Scientists Paperback – March 30, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

Paper or plastic? Cloth or disposable? Regular or organic? Every day, environmentally conscious consumers are faced with the overwhelming catch-22 of a capitalist society--reconciling the harm we do by consuming, while still providing ourselves and our families with the goods and services we need. It's enough to make a city dweller crazy. Fret no more! The Union of Concerned Scientists has put together a well-researched and eminently practical guide to the decisions that matter. The authors hope that the book will help you set priorities, stop worrying about insignificant things, and understand the real environmental impacts of household decisions. For instance, you may be surprised to learn that buying and eating meat and poultry is much more harmful to the environment than the packaging the meat is wrapped in, even if it's Styrofoam. This guide takes on both sides of the consumer-impact argument, goring sacred cows of the environmentalist movement (like the strident emphasis on recycling) and the industrialist perspective (like the relentless message to buy more, more, more). If you're confused and overwhelmed by all the environmental decision-making in the modern world, you'll find new inspiration in this book. --Therese Littleton

From School Library Journal

YA-Brower and Leon, along with input from their colleagues, present statistics, describe solutions, and endorse steps for readers to take to live more ecologically based lifestyles as consumers of the Earth's resources. They encourage individuals to go beyond basic recycling and to look at changing the policies of government and large institutions, explain how negatively consumer choices can affect the environment, and present a quantitative analysis of which items most affect the environment. Important information is dramatically put forth in highlighted boxes of lists. The authors stress the fact that choice is the optimal word for today's consumers and some choices are easier than others. They wisely point out that some consumers don't have the leeway to make what might be considered the most ecological of choices available and present different styles of compromise in a variety of situations. A list of active Web sites for additional information and other pertinent resources is appended. Young adults interested in effecting change will find sources to help in their search as well as proven research to help them make their own decisions.
Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; 1 edition (March 30, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 060980281X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609802816
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #504,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is a guide to spending your money in a way that does less harm to the environment than the way you are spending it now. The authors began their book by undertaking a project to identify the greatest environmental problems caused by consumer activities, and find ways to measure which consumer activities cause the most damage. First, they gathered data about environmental problems, compared the data and analyzed the numbers. Through this research, they determined that the greatest environmental problems in the US related to consumer activities are air pollution, global warming, habitat alteration, and water pollution.
Having determined the greatest environmental problems related to consumption, they then looked at all the ways a household consumes, and quantified the percent of the household's total environmental damage caused by each item on their list. This enabled them to determine which items on the list are most damaging. Another way they looked at consumption was to take the average cost of each item on the list, and calculate the environmental damage associated with each dollar of expenditure in that category. This is used to find which items on the list give us the worst bang for the buck.
Based on these numerical calculations, the authors determined that the worst consumer activities that the average household engages in are cars and light trucks, meat and poultry, fruit, vegetables, and grains, home heating, hot water, and air conditioning, household appliances and lighting, home construction, and household water and sewage.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on March 25, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're like me, you feel overwhelmed at times with environmental problems: global warming, water depletion and pollution, ozone alerts, animal waste runoff, garbage, plastic, etc. etc. So much seems to be broken that it's difficult to figure out what to begin fixing--especially when you're just an average consumer. Where to begin? And even if you do begin, can you really make a difference?
The virtue of this *Consumer's Guide* is that the authors help us separate the urgent from the not-so-urgent, the easily doable from the this'll-take-more-time-and-effort. They pinpoint three major areas in our consumption in which we can make immediate changes that really do impact for the better on the environment: vehicle usage, how we heat/cool our homes,and what we eat. Almost all of us use our cars more than we need to, and a growing number of us have vehicles much larger than we really need; all of us can do better about insulating our homes, cutting down on electricity, and using environmental-friendly appliances; and we don't really need to eat as much meat as we do--growing food animals is a colossal waste of grain protein as well as a major water and air polluter.
Just as handy, the *Consumer Guide* gives tips for social and political as well as individual action. Changing one's own behavior is essential; but building coalitions with others and putting pressure on corporations and the government to be more eco-responsible is essential too.
Finally, Susan Strasser's concluding essay, "From Walden to Wal-Mart," a reflective analysis of our consumerist culture, is by itself worth the price of the book. Very nice indeed!
So get this book, read it, and take hope: you CAN make a difference!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Margaret E. Haynes on March 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is challenging but worthwhile for young people of college age, the ones inheriting our environment in the next century, for better or worse. On my first reading, I was struck by the motivating use of concrete examples and the effort by the authors to make complex issues clear. Most important, this book addresses the central ethical choices we are making each day which affect our environment, choices we too easily make without being aware of their implications.
I selected this book to teach in freshman college composition at our community college because current research shows American high school students are more challenged by informational reading, but this is a book by which informational reading can connect directly to everyday life. With this concrete connection to their lives, students have much material to write about at various levels ranging from concrete to abstract.
Students are challenged by the cause-effect implications in the book as well as by the numberical literacy involved in reading of various charts and graphs. I have provided worksheets and writing assignments to support student growth in this area. So far, the groans of the early part of the semester seem to give way to enthusiasm as students use the content and the resources in the appendix to develop their own research projects on topics ranging from Great Lakes Pollution to lightbulb or clothing choices.
Some might criticize this book for its lack of illustration--the current generation reads much more enthusiastically with visual enhancements to text. However, since the appendix provides lists of related Web Sites, students can easily find their own access to related pictures.
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