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Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff Paperback – October 1, 2009
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In Confessions of an Eco-Sinner, Fred Pearce surveys his home and then sets out to track down the people behind the production and distribution of everything in his daily life, from his socks to his computer to the food in his fridge. It’s a fascinating portrait, by turns sobering and hopeful, of the effects the world’s more than six billion inhabitants have on our planet—and of the working and living conditions of the people who produce most of these goods.
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"Confessions of an Eco-Sinner . . . displays a refreshing ability to defy conventional green wisdom. . . . Pearce scores an inspiring read here, with a gift for getting to the heart of the matter in just a few words."—David Valdes Greenwood, Body + Soul
"With a straightforward writing style and a pace that circles breezily from travelogue to statistics to history and back, Pearce . . . [offers] hope for a more just and healthy future."—Molly Reid, The Times-Picayune
"Sometimes frightening, always enlightening, [Confessions] will teach you more about other people’s lives than you ever thought possible."—Catherine Brahic, New Scientist
"Far from merely presenting a litany of consumer sins . . . Pearce discusses a range of socio-economic solutions, including recycling alternatives, agricultural initiatives and population issues."—Ted Hainworth, The StarPhoenix
"If you’ve ever wondered where all your stuff comes from . . . and where it all goes, Fred Pearce has beaten you to it, been there, cast a critical eye over it and published it here. Armed with a sense of his own ignorance and fallibility . . . [t]o his great credit Pearce has no fear of statistics and is skilled at making them more manageable, less illusory and, yes, sometimes more shocking. . . . Essential reading."—New Agriculturalist
"It’s official: Everyone is going green. Sometimes, though, learning which behaviors really make a difference seems an impossible task. In Confessions of an Eco-Sinner, Fred Pearce is determined to find the truth by following his possessions from the cradle to the grave. What he learns is sometimes disturbing, occasionally rewarding, and always eye-opening."—Rachel Tavares, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ
About the Author
- Publisher : Beacon Press (October 1, 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 284 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0807085952
- ISBN-13 : 978-0807085950
- Item Weight : 14.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.62 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,549,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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There is a lot of focus on the clothes we wear. Do you know where the coton in your clothes comes from, or how it is grown? In many cases, the cotton comes from thousands of miles away and leaves ecological damage in it's wake. It is a thirsty crop and one that requires heavy use of chemicals, damaging the area around which it is grown. And, then it is shipped thousands of miles to be made into the tee shirt or whatever that you are wearing, before that is shipped to your local store. A tee shirt many have 20,000 miles of transport behind it before you ever see it.
The same issues occur with computers, cell phones, a lot of food we eat, beer cans and other packaging….the list goes on and on. Many of the items he uncovers we can do little about…we can't change where our cell phones are made, but we can keep them longer and make sure they are properly recycled when we are done with them.
This is an interesting and well written book about where our "stuff" comes from and the dame it has left in its wake. If we do even a little better at buying locally, or keeping items a little longer, we can have a significant impact of the planet Earth
I will provide a brief example of one of his stories. This is the story he starts with, the story of his wedding band:
Pearce treks the gold trail from the wedding band on his finger to a goldmine in South Africa. Driefontein mine shaft 7, 3 miles underground, is the deepest workplace on this planet. In 1970 his wedding band cost him $50. The ecological cost was: 2 tons of rock (1 ton per 5 grams of gold) blasted from the ground and carried up more than 2 miles, 5.5 tons of water, 30 tons of air pumped underground to keep the mine cool, cyanide, zinc, mercury, and other chemicals for extraction of the gold, and enough energy to run a house for several days. He also goes on to detail the social cost of gold mining. His ring cost 10 hours of human labor at just $1 per hour. Yet the danger to the miners is difficult to include in the equation. Driefontein mine shaft 7 is a very productive mine shaft. And so the miners dig deeper and deeper to get more gold. The deeper they they dig the more dangerous, the hotter and more radioactive the mine becomes. (This part reminded me of the Mines of Moria from Lords of the Rings. Of how the dwarves dug so deep that they awakened the Balrog of Morgoth... Yes, I'm a nerd.) Rockfalls, fires, and other accidents cause death on a regular basis. The miners live in squatter camps near the goldfields and lead dreary lives. AIDS is common among them, with prevalence rates as high as 35 percent.
Hollywood showed us what a "blood diamond" is. But what about blood gold?
Judging from the title of the book and the cover image, one would assume that this book is written for the environmentalist. The choice of the title is unfortunate in that the contents of the book tell another and more far-reaching story. Pearce's personal journey reads like a travelogue that specializes in the environmental and ethical dimensions of many aspects of our material lives. This book is written to open our eyes to the fact that we of the West are all "eco-sinners."
What is even more alarming is that the our irrational desires for material goods are spreading across the globe. For instance, a female sweatshop worker he meets in Bangladesh owns a fake Gucci bag. It would appear that we are trashing the planet because we are trying to encourage economic growth, and the way to do this is to encourage aspiration. In the west, we are already rich and aspirational. But as the third world catches up with our levels of prosperity, how will we cope? The system we are in requires servant labor. Even the sweatshop laborer, a poor young woman living in a small hut with five other women, buys a product of sweatshop because of its' label. Our Western lust for material goods is spreading and infecting people across the planet.
Perhaps this book can be invaluable in attacking the disease at the source. Perhaps if we realized the true cost (social and ecological) of our everyday products we would care for them more, make them last longer. After reading this book I personally have become more conscious of the purchasing decisions I make. After learning the true cost of a cotton t-shirt I feel wrong buying one, no matter how cheap it is. For the first time I visited consignment boutiques and learned the joy of thrift shopping. Perhaps I am not saving the world with my consumer decisions, but I will try not to make things worse.