Confession Time

I love reading and am always happy when I find a new “green” book to read. Such is the case with the book I just finished only moments ago, Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff. I found the book fascinating. Science journalist Fred Pearce traveled all over the world to see where his possessions came from, and where they went once they were thrown away or recycled.

The author not only looks into where his goods come from, but also what journey they take to travel to him (or his local market). He discovers the environmental and social impact of many common foods including his fair-trade coffee, green beans, prawns (shrimp), palm oil, and spices. He also followed the probable journey of the gold used to make his wedding ring. Other journeys in the first five parts of the book included discovering if his fair-trade socks were really fair, where  his jeans were made and who made them, the route cotton takes from growth to manufacture to store, and where metals are mined, recycled and manufactured into products.

A sixth part of the book looks at waste produced and where it goes to be disposed of or recycled; believe or not this section also involved world travel and the conclusion that third world countries are much better at recycling then the Western world. Finally, the last section investigates common concerns such as the desertification of Africa, climate change and reducing carbon emission, and finally overpopulation.

One of the things I loved best about this book was that it found answers (or at least information) that I wanted to know, but had neither the time nor means to investigate. I have always wondered how clothes really were made and why they are usually made overseas (beyond the lower cost of labor). I found out about cities and towns over the world that specialize in the manufacture and recycling of certain products. This book gave me more information about why recycling is important, why we should “close the loop” and what the environmental reprocussions of obtaining virgin materials are to the surrounding country and the world.

At first I was afraid that this book would be very depressing and full of doom and gloom. However, there were many uplifting stories as well, full of innovation and hope. I would recommend this book to anyone who cares about the impact of their buying decisions on not only the environment but also on people around the world.

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