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Confessions of an Eco-Sinner – Book Review

When I spotted “Confessions of an Eco-Sinner” at the local library, I was wary of a green-washing book  However, I skimmed the brief summary and gave this book a read – I’m quite glad I did!  Although my friends & family may be sick of me continuously spouting things I learned, I can’t get enough.

Fred Pearce is a British author who decided to track down where various items he uses originate, how they’re created and what the impact is on both the local inhabits & environment. For example, he follows the birth of his wedding band into the gold mines of Witwatersrand, Africa (by Johannesburg).  He checks to see if his ‘Fair Trade” Coffee and cotton are actually “fair trade” – (which is quite complex).

Here are just a few fascinating takeaways I learned:

  • Aluminum smelting requires more energy than any other metal process. Therefore, it’s crucial you recycle your beer or soda can! (Still America only recycles apprx 50% of aluminum. If we recycled all of it, we wouldn’t have to mine it anymore.)
  • Have you calculated your H20 footprint? An average Britain may use 40 gallons of water daily (USA is closer to 80), but get this: to grow enough wheat for 1 slice of toast is 40 gallons, a pint of beer is 65, a quart of milk is 1000 gallons and ONE 1/4 LB hamburger… 3,000 gallons.
  • Alternate energy such as wind, nuclear, solar & biofuels all have a consequence if we depend on only ONE – why not take a trip to the ‘energy buffet’ & try some of all?
  • Importing food from a foreign country could have less of a carbon impact than growing locally in off-seasons: For example, the energy to heat a greenhouse could exceed importing food VIA plane.  (Ironic to think about, right?)
  • Gandhi said: “There is enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.”  Consume less.  Help more.
  • A LOT of the clothes you’re donating to Goodwill are re-sold in Africa, possibly for more than you paid for them.
  • Often times, our ‘recyclables’ are exported to Asia.  But think about it this way: When you buy a new computer or TV made in China – guess where that recyclable box came from?

Pearce equally discusses pros and cons of various methods.  Sure, he inserts his opinion, but gives both sides of the story.  While reading, you can definitely look around and question where the products you’re using come from.

Another aspect I enjoyed (VIA my previous study-abroad experience in London): British humor is definitely intact in this tale.  “Pity the banana. Despite its unmistakably phallic appearance, it hasn’t had sex for thousands of years.” There’s a reason for this statement: Pearce explains that plant breeders have ignored banana biology and it lacks genes to fight off pests & diseases where grown – Central America, Africa & Asia. Could you even imagine a world without bananas? (I couldn’t!)

I highly recommend reading this book!

Posted by Julie

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

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