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Confessions of an Eco-Sinner
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About the Author

Fred Pearce is environment consultant at New Scientist and a weekly columnist and investigative journalist for the Guardian. He has also written for Audubon, Popular Science, Time, the Boston Globe, andNatural History. His books include The Coming Population Crash, Confessions of an Eco-Sinner, With Speed and Violence, When the Rivers Run Dry, Keepers of the Spring, Turning Up the Heat, and Deep Jungle. Pearce lives in England.

Reviews

Pearce's quest to discover "the hidden world" sustaining Western consumption habits is fulfilled with varying degrees of success in this, his third book. Tracking the routes taken by the items in his home--his coffee, cellphone, computer, green beans, chocolate, socks--from raw ingredient to finished product, the author presents fascinating firsthand investigations, as when he visits a group of fair-trade coffee farmers, follows the trail of his donated shirts to markets in Africa, visits Uzbek communities whose health, infrastructure and environment have been devastated by the cotton industry, and interviews female sweatshop workers who view their factory jobs as empowering. When Pearce strays from these journalistic portraits, however, he is prone to flaccid opining about the greenest fuel sources and simplistic boosting for urban planners designing "small-footprint" cities. The most effective chapters puncture the feel-good myths surrounding fair trade and recycling and introduce unique characters, such as the farmers and middlemen responsible for getting prawns from Bangladesh to a London curry shop. Although a timely effort, Pearce's diffusion of his reportorial mission with green-pleading mires his refreshing discoveries in moralizing and familiar cant. (Oct.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

At first glance, this title appears to be another in the current onslaught of "green" books. However, journalist and author Pearce (When the Rivers Run Dry) extends his exploration from the ecological to the social and economic implications of our "stuff." By choosing several categories of possessions--food, clothes, beer cans, and garbage--and seeking out the origins or hunting down the resting grounds of each, Pearce sets off on a journey crisscrossing the globe. While obviously creating a carbon footprint of his own, Pearce tells the stories of the heads of each industry and the laborers whose families are supported by them. His calculations of the carbon footprint of, for example, each green bean grown in Kenya, are an interesting and somewhat unique view of the impact produce grown abroad and air-freighted to high-income economies has on the planet. Through this book, readers will gain a holistic sense of global markets, and some actions (e.g., buying green beans from Kenya instead of beans grown locally in a hothouse) emerge as surprisingly virtuous when the true global impact is revealed. Recommended for public and academic libraries.--Jaime Hammond, Naugatuck Valley Community Coll., Waterbury, CT Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"The hot new green book on the market . . . A riveting, well-written and witty account of the origin of some of the common objects in people's homes."--GreenMuze

"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

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