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Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the…

Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can… (edition 2009)

by Daniel Goleman

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3391051,805 (3.42)5
The bestselling author of "Emotional Intelligence" and "Primal Leadership" reveals the hidden environmental consequences of what societies make and buy, and how that knowledge can drive the changes necessary to save the planet.
Title:Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything
Authors:Daniel Goleman
Info:Crown Business (2009), Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything by Daniel Goleman



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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
A description of how knowing more about the products we buy, including their provenance and the environmental cost of their production, can make use better consumers and help protect the environment. ( )
  lilibrarian | Oct 14, 2019 |
A look at our consumption that aims at getting us to think smarter and more holistically about environmental problems. Essentially Goleman is arguing for full disclosure on products from companies, and for consumers to think systemically about all sorts of environmental issues (rather than one thing) There is an explicit critique of greenwashing here (presenting a product as green because it is recycled or whatever when other parts of it are not environmentally great). I think other books say this better, and this is slightly dated. Still some good stuff ( )
  Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
This is an essential introduction to understanding the ecological implications for each purchase decision we make. The perspective of the book is based on the ecological and political consequences of choosing one product over another. Daniel Goleman stresses the need for "radical transparency" in providing consumers the information we need to make informed buying decisions. He spotlights the iPhone and Android app GoodGuide ( http://www.goodguide.com/about/mobile ) as providing this information at the point of purchase, where these decisions are made.

My concern, and apparently also the author's concern in 2009 (when the book was published) is that this all may be "Too little, too late". But a very necessary step. ( )
  bodhisattva | Jul 31, 2012 |
I have a mixed view of this book.

Firstly, on a purely literary level, as with many business oriented books these days, there is one key idea, very easily grasped in the first chapter, with which you will agree or disagree. But there is very little real need to read on after that.
Secondly, I absolutely agree with Goleman that consumers with good sustainability intentions either can't access the data they need to make an informed choice, or don't know how to assess the information they do have. In a perfect world, that information would be easily available to consumers, and they would be able to weight that information according to what matters to them - ie some might be especially concerned with the labour environment in which the product was produced, others might be more concerned with ecological impact etc.
Thirdly I agree that in an era of "big data" this information is going to be coming easier to come by and there is an opportunity to present it to consumers in a variety of convenient ways - either through apps, QR codes, rating scales etc

Where I disagree with Goleman is that ipso facto this means that consumers will make better decisions. No. Some consumers will make better decisions about some product categories some of the time. The idea that all consumers are sufficiently involved in all categories to take the trouble to make informed decisions all the time is misguided. A mother may well take the trouble to make better decisions about the products' she buys' impact on her baby's health; but will she extend that to her husband's jeans, the cat's chow and the clothes she buys for herself? Probably not in most cases. For someone who focuses a lot on supermarket / hypermarket choices it surprising that Goleman has not discovered the concept of "buy time" - basically the longer a supermarket trip goes on, the shorter the decision time for each product becomes (on average). Which is why new products tend to be clustered near entrances not exits - we are more likely to consider something new at the beginning of a shop. The same will apply to assessing sustainability impact information; at the beginning of a shop we might, near the end, as we tire and the kids start to grizzle, we wont.

I also disagree that people will make better sustainability choices even if cost is higher. Of course an affluent minority might. But for most consumers responsibility to your family, through efficient budgeting, is a higher priority than the greater good of the planet and humankind. Always has been, always will be. What people will do of course is choose the more sustainable product if everything else is the same, or nearly the same. But its a brand marketer's job to make sure that their product doesn't look or feel the same as a competitors'

I was also puzzled by Goleman's focus on the supermarket and hypermarket, with no discussion of technology, automotive or other industries with a big negative footprint such as travel. And by his refusal to recognise that although all products create negative impacts, there are positives too...through creation of employment, provision of affordable nutrition etc etc. I am not saying that these positives outweigh the negatives, but they should be taken into consideration

There are some interesting case studies here of businesses that are making money and improving their sustainability. Good. But its notable that most of these are businesses that have just taken a decision that they "should" be more sustainable, rather than being driven by consumer demand. Which sort of runs counter to the main argument of the book - that better data, will drive consumer decisions, which will force manufacturers to "do the right thing" if they want to stay in business

I disagree. Although better data availability will drive the market to some extent, and will have a positive impact, I think it will be too small to really be a game changer. Sustainable consumption has to be a case of business leading consumers, rather than consumers driving the market ( )
  Opinionated | Jan 27, 2012 |
I would like this book more if it didn't talk about how awesome some giant multinational corporations are by making tiny incremental changes in some small ways that might help the environment. Just because P&G makes "Cold Water Tide" doesn't mean they don't still screw over the environment in many drastic ways. While I agree that consumer transparency is going to help drive more environmentally friendly purchases, multinationals are going to be the first to lobby against it. We aren't going to solve global warming in a capitalist framework. ( )
  lemontwist | Feb 11, 2011 |
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