From Publishers Weekly
Leonard examines conspicuous consumption and its human and environmental costs in an expansion of her short documentary of the same name. The analysis is accessible, and Leonard is skilled at breaking down large and abstruse concepts for the listeners. She's less winning as a reader, however: her bubbly voice and predilection for overemphasis are grating—and occasionally, her explanations and prescriptions veer into condescension. These failings aside, here is a wealth of very important information. As a bonus, the MP3 CD includes the original video, but omits the charts and graphics in the book. A Free Press hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 25). (Mar.)
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*Starred Review* Why is there so much garbage, and where does it go? A Time magazine Hero of the Environment, Leonard has traveled the world tracking trash and its wake of destruction. Her investigations convinced her that the impossible dream of perpetual economic growth and the rampant consumer culture it engenders are the root causes of today’s environmental crises. A rigorous thinker in command of a phenomenal amount of information, Leonard believes that we must calculate the full ecological and social cost of our “stuff.” So she takes us through the extraction of natural resources and the production, distribution, consumption, and disposal of various products, documenting ecohazards and the exploitation of workers along the way. Drawing on her extensive research, gutsy fieldwork, and efforts to live “green,” Leonard condemns the endless barrage of advertisements, the plague of toxic synthetic chemicals, and such covertly deleterious inventions as the aluminum can. Not one to tout simple approaches to complex predicaments, Leonard instead offers hard facts, diligent analysis, and an ambitious vision in this comprehensive critique, calling for strict environmental laws, an end to overconsumption, zero waste, and a new social paradigm based on quality of life, not quantity of stuff. --Donna Seaman