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Confessions of an Eco-Sinner by Fred Pearce
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Confessions of an Eco-Sinner

by Fred Pearce

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Another for the "everything you are doing is wrong" shelf. Pearce decided to investigate the ways his consumer goods were manufactured and disposed of. The usual suspects are on display here, and some less usual. It's always a little troublesome to see someone log tens of thousands of air miles to report on how the environment is going to hell, but it feels like his motives are pure- and points to him for acknowledging his footprint as considerably larger than average for his cohort.

There are a lot of short chapters, all are interesting. For my money, all would be more interesting if they were handled a bit more thoroughly. It's a good introduction with some light bits balancing an overall grim topic. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
This is a rather strange book. Posited as an environment tome, with the author endeavouring to find out where they things he uses come from, it ends up coming off as a bit of a 'I am a middle-class person who can afford lots of nice stuff and gee I care, hence the fact I am going to do a lot of environment-destroying flying around the world to prove my point'. Pearce gets angry at the way a lot of things are done, and does a bit of soul-searching, yet the end result seems to be he thinks that it is all a bit too hard, and we need to do our bit, as long as it doesn't curb journalists flitting around the world.

The impression I get is that the author (or his publishers) couldn't really decide on whether this was a book about 'green' issues, or if this was to be part of the popular non-fiction 'life of an object' genre. The end chapter about demographics, while probably the least 'dumbed down' of the chapters still doesn't seem to be thought through particularly well. All up, it smacks of a well meaning, rather knowledgeable journalist with a great idea that was not particularly well executed, with a smattering of pretentiousness thrown in for good measure. I do have another of Pearce's books on loan from the library, lets hope that one is a bit better than this one. ( )
  ForrestFamily | Jan 15, 2010 |
This book goes into great detail about the lifecycles of a handful of consumer products - food, clothing, electronics, metals, etc. While very interesting, I found this book lacking in the bigger picture of what is wrong with over consumption. The author paints a picture where our problems can be solved with the right mix of biofuels and ingenuity and doesn't take on the fact that the problem is that we live in a consumerist society where people buy too much crap that they don't need because companies make a huge profit out of doing so. He doesn't cover anything like pricing products based on their total environmental impact and only briefly touches on emissions caps, which have been shown to be just another profit-making enterprise these days, more about money than actually cleaning up the environment.

I found particularly hastily written the penultimate chapter about demographics. The author seems to think that our problems can be solved if only more women opt to having fewer children, but doesn't really go into how that can be made possible - by getting rid of patriarchal institutions and giving women access to family planning services. He writes about how China, among other countries, has a lower-than-replacement-rate birth rate, and only briefly mentions their totalitarian one-child policy. Similarly with Latin American countries that use sterilization, he never thinks to mention if these women are sterilized against their will. Also, women who work in the so called global factory are also usually forbidden to have children, but he doesn't mention that either.

Along this vein, the author seems to think that women who work in the global factory are truly emancipated women, but doesn't stop to think that the reason that women are hired for unsafe, low paid jobs is that employers can still get away with paying women very low wages. He mentions that women have "nimble fingers," but doesn't go on to mention that the reason men don't have these jobs is because it would be unthinkable to pay them such little money. Sure, maybe factory work is better than the other options for these women, but that doesn't mean it's ethical, fair or safe.

Maybe I am asking too much from this book, but with such a huge, looming environmental crisis, I don't like the idea that we can just keep sitting back and doing what we're already doing (with just a little more recycling) and get away with it. Something has to change, and this book doesn't bring up what that change is going to be. ( )
2 vote lemontwist | Dec 28, 2009 |
Mind opening and well written - recommend this book to everyone. Especially those who have wondered where xylophone-playing Santas come from. ( )
  kiarere | Jul 20, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 080708588X, Hardcover)

Where does everything in our daily lives come from? The clothes on our backs, the computers on our desks, the cabinets in our kitchens, and the food behind their doors? Under what conditions-environmental and social-are they harvested or manufactured? Veteran science journalist Fred Pearce set off to find out, and the resulting 100,000-mile journey took him to the end of his street and across the planet to more than twenty countries.

Pearce deftly shows us the hidden worlds that sustain a Western lifestyle, and he does it by examining the sources of everything in his own life; as an ordinary citizen of the Western world, he, like all of us, is an "eco-sinner."

In Confessions of an Eco-Sinner, Pearce surveys his home and then launches on a global tour to track down, among other things, the Tanzanians who grow and harvest his fair-trade coffee (which isn't as fair as one might hope), the Central American plantations that grow his daily banana (a treat that may disappear forever), the women in the Bangladeshi sweatshops who sew his jeans, the Chinese factory cities where the world's computers are made, and the African afterlife for old cell phones. It's a fascinating portrait, by turns sobering and hopeful, of the effects the world's more than 6 billion inhabitants-all eating, consuming, making-have on our planet, and of the working and living conditions of the people who produce most of these goods.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:26 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

From the Publisher: A global journey to find the sources of all the stuff in one man's life-and its social and environmental footprint. Where does everything in our daily lives come from? The clothes on our backs, the computers on our desks, the cabinets in our kitchens, and the spices behind their doors? Under what conditions-environmental and social-are they harvested or manufactured? In Confessions of an Eco-Sinner, Fred Pearce shows us the hidden worlds that sustain a Western lifestyle, and he does it by examining the sources of everything in his own life; as an ordinary citizen of the Western world, he, like all of us, is an "eco-sinner." In conversational and convivial prose, Pearce surveys his home and then starts out on a global tour to track down, among other things, the Kenyans who grow and harvest his fair trade coffee (which isn't as fair as one might hope), the women in the Bangladeshi sweat shops who sew his jeans, and the Chinese factory cities where the world's computers are made. It's a fascinating portrait, by turns sobering and hopeful, of the effects the world's more than 6 billion inhabitants-all eating, consuming, making-have on our planet, and of the working and living conditions of the people who produce most of these goods.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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Beacon Press

2 editions of this book were published by Beacon Press.

Editions: 080708588X, 0807085952

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