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This Week's Book:

Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices

The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice From The Union of Concerned Scientsts by Mathis Wackernagel & William Rees. New Society Publishers.

If you're looking for a book to help you cut through all the noise surrounding environmental dos and don'ts, this is it. UCS' Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices is a straightforward, information-packed handbook that explains what actions you can take to really make a difference – and which ones you don't need to worry about.

According to the book's authors, the four most significant consumer-related environmental problems are air pollution, global warming, habitat alteration and water pollution. But we're not just left with that guilt trip. The book goes on to prescribe actions we can take in seven areas, like driving, food consumption, the way we heat our homes and hot water, and even the way we build our homes, to improve conditions for the planet and ultimately ourselves.

The UCS Consumer's Guide is not a quick read. Because it's grounded in science and research, it will take some time to read through its 292 pages. In fact, you might want to do so with a red pencil so you can underline the passages that are most relevant to your own life.

Rather than try to act on every issue, the authors advise consumers to “try to identify two or three changes that will make a big difference.”

“You may discover, for example, that a hundred gallons of water a day go to watering your lawn and garden, while only two gallons go to brushing your teeth. If you change your plantings, settle for a less lush landscape, and alter your watering system, you may be able to reduce your water use by fifty gallons a day, whereas reducing the water you use when your brush your teeth by the same proportion would save a mere gallon a day.”

If you understand the scale of your actions, they say, you can understand the impact you're having. This book will help you understand the scale.



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