Book Review: The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices

The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices is exactly what the title promises: a useful guide to help you make the best decisions with the least environmental impact.

| August/September 1999

We eschew disposable diapers and Styrofoam cups. We choose paper over plastic bags at the register. We recycle our bottles and cans and newspapers. We never use aerosol products. We are earth-friendly consumers. Or are we?

One book, The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices, will help us answer that question.

While our hearts are certainly in the right place when we make such consumer choices, our dollars and eco-sense might well be put to better use, suggests Dr. Warren Leon, deputy director of the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS). Leon is coauthor, along with energy expert Dr. Michael Brower, of The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices.

This book takes a comprehensive look at a full range of consumer activities and identifies those most damaging to the environment.

The authors trace the bulk of consumer-related environmental damage to the so-called “dirty seven”: cars, meat, produce and grains, household appliances and lighting, home heating and cooling, home construction, and household water and sewage. Not surprisingly, cars and light trucks are singled out as posing the greatest consumer-related environmental threat, with red meat consumption coming in a not-too-distant second.

“The book sweeps away confusion over what matters and doesn’t matter for the environment,” says Leon.

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