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The Virtuous Consumer: Your Essential Shopping Guide for a Better, Kinder, Healthier World [Paperback]

Leslie Garrett , Peter Greenberg
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 28 2007
Virtuous Consumer is for busy people who want to buy responsibly but are not sure where to start. In this book Leslie Garrett provides the answers to commonly asked questions. Each chapter in this practical, easy-to-read book reveals how a particular sector of the economy impacts the planet and its people. Those who want a greater understanding of the issues can read the whole thing - those who don't can turn straight to "The Buy Line," a section at the end of each chapter that clearly and succinctly explains what items to put on one's shopping list. What's more, the book is sprinkled with bizarre trivia, fascinating personality profiles, and quick tips - all focused on living a greener, cleaner life.

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Product Description

About the Author

Author, editor, and award-winning journalist Leslie Garrett lives near Toronto. Best-selling author and NBC travel editor Peter Greenberg lives in New York City.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Virtuous Consumer Oct. 7 2007
By Tami Brady HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I think that many of us believe that we are doing our part to preserve our world for our children and grandchildren. We happily recycle what we can. We donate our old clothes to good will. We enjoy local foods and even buy organic sometimes.

The Virtuous Consumer shows the consumer that there is so much more that we could be doing. This book examines better options in every single consumer category from food and clothing through energy consumption and pesticide free gardening to adopting a pet and buying a car. Reading this information for me was rather eye opening. I really hadn't thought about how my pads and tampons were adding to the landfills. I had never even considered that there might be other options. Likewise, I had never spent even a single moment thinking about the pesticides used to grow my cotton clothing, what my laminate flooring was really made of, or the chemical composition of my children's toys.

The Virtuous Consumer is an interesting read. I don't see myself following the author's guidelines to the letter or worrying about how every purchase I make effects the world. However, I did find a handful of things that I could conceivable do within my regular routine and a few new products that I'd like to check out. I am also armed with a little more information that will likely affect my buying practices and choices.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Guilt sucks; and so does this book Oct. 24 2008
By J Scott
Format:Paperback
For a book with such a worthy ideal to be so bad in so many ways is really quite remarkable. First up; top marks for honesty. The author brags throughout about how she owns a huge house (32 windows, no less), drives a huge car (a minivan; her husband has the convertible), owns two enormous dogs and a swimming pool, so she barely bothers to conceal the immensity of her gigantic eco-footprint. She may as well confess that this book is essentially a salve for the conscience of the conspicuous consumer. Sure, you can have all she has and still feel great - just don't weed your lawn, make sure to put out your recycling, eat organic food, avoid GMOs, and take your kids on bike rides occasionally! You're doing your bit, and as she says, guilt sucks - so why bother doing more?

What's perhaps worse than the cheery hypocrisy that drips from every page is just how wrong-headed and contradictory the book is. One page she's bemoaning animal testing, the next accusing the FDA of not testing enough (is she volunteering?). I could go on, but I also want to accuse her of being not just a lightweight on science but blissfully ignorant throughout. Here are some of her ridiculous claims: don't mix vinegar and bleach, or you'll make chloramine gas (no you won't). Barium is radioactive (not in the slightest; that's why they use it for internal imaging of humans). Burning one pound of fossil fuels makes 28 pounds of carbon dioxide gas (not even remotely close).

Ugh. Even if you're the type who consumes vast amounts of resources and feels slightly guilty about it, Garrett's book won't help you much. Her solutions are so superficial that you're probably doing them already.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Idea that Whimpers to an End Oct. 21 2007
By Robert David STEELE Vivas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Halfway through the book I wrote "superb, clear-cut," and then the book whimpered to an end. This is a very good idea, it was offered for sale at Bioneers 2007, so I have left it at four stars in part because of that and in part because I liked the specifications of brands that made the grade.

The book consists of 11 short parts with the first six being fairly robust and useful, and the last five whimpering to an end, rather pedestrian and not as illuminating or diverse as the earlier sections.

1) PERSONAL: Cosmetics, tampons and pads, sex toys, all toxic if you buy the wrong brands. Woman's pee going into the oceans with artificial estrogen lowering the sperm count of ocean animals (this at the same time that human male sperm count is nose-diving for varied other reasons).

2) ECO-CHIC covers clothing and does a good job of outlining vitual water, sweatshop costs, and (new to me) the dry cleaning implications when wash and wear is not the default option. Similarly, jewlery is rife with blood diamonds and so on, new to me was the integrity of Canadian jewlery, the value of synthetic, and used jewlery.

3) FOOD advises among many other things to avoid farm fish (I would add, avoid Wal-Wart fish as their practices are destroying the South Pacific), be conscious of genetic and pesticide hand-me-downs (arsenic in fast food chicken from the feed seeking to kill worms in the chickens). Pays tribute to the "slow food" movement (something my wife and I are designing the new kitchen toward, inspired by the week I spent in a French country kitchen in Provance).

4) KIDS, avoid plastic, plastic, plastic. I was very surprised to learn about the relatively toxic nature of most plastic. I knew about the arsenic in the old wood playground sets. Wood toys recommended, used toys recommended. Excellent emphasis on how asthma in kids is sky-rocketing (and I would add, especially in low income neighborhoods with little green and excessive idling trucks) from pollution. Good emphasis on how many countries are forbidding advertising toward children.

5) CLEAN LIVING focuses on the relative toxicity of specific cleaners, many of which increase the oil in the water downstream. Suggests that one read and sort all items by the relative danger warnings on the labels, cut use fo detergent in half, buy a front loader washer for dramatic energy and water savings. Encourages the washing and re-use of zip lock bags, the elmination of seran wrap (and my wife told me tonight, now known to transfer toxicity to food when used in the microwave). Recommends trash triage, home compost hear. Useful pointer to web site 41pounds.org where for $41 a year, they will do all the work needed to eliminate all jumk mail (I sealed my office mail address and got a post box, achieved the same effect but at a higher cost). As with most Bioneers, the book is very strongly against buying water in plastic bottles, pointing out that most such water is tap water, and that the plastic bottles are one of the greatest threats we impose on the ocean. In this section, I have the notation, "superb list of web sites" largely in relation to computer take-back programs.

6) HOME is a lot of common sense, including no carpets, wood suspect because of toxicity of the sealants, cork and bamboo tops (I was enchanted by bamboo home and furniture exhibits at Bioneers). Green your home room by room, do NOT use petroleum-based candles, insist on beeswax or soy-based candles, don't use chlorine for pools and cleaning.

7) ENERGY, standard stuff.

8) GARDEN. basic.

9) CAR. Pedestrian.

10) Pets, ho hom.

11) Holidays, cute, some interesting detail.

Bottom line: I read it to the very end and I recommend it for buying, but this is a book that could be executed better, and it could be converted into a website in which one can select where they want to be on the greenness meter, and then print out a list of recommended everything by clicking on categories of interest. I think of this as a superb first generation effort, and look forward to seventh generation variations. In that vein, I am very excited by the possibilties of combining the "true cost" information being gradually built up within the World Index of Social and Environmental Responsibility (WISER), and the ability to use a cell phone to read a bar code, send it to WISER (eventually, not today) and get back the "true cost" as well as the txicity of the item, with alteranatives recommended by price and store.

Good book on balance, a fine use of my time on the flight back.

See also:
Pandora's Poison: Chlorine, Health, and a New Environmental Strategy
The Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution and the Industrial System
High Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxics, and Human Health
The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works--and How It's Transforming the American Economy
Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power
Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming
The New Craft of Intelligence: Personal, Public, & Political--Citizen's Action Handbook for Fighting Terrorism, Genocide, Disease, Toxic Bombs, & Corruption
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and funny. Nov. 8 2007
By Lori Hill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
My boyfriend bought this book for me and I've since bought 5 copies that I have passed on to friends! It is VERY informative and makes you aware of why you should and should not use certain products. While it makes you concerned about our future, it doesn't have too much of an alarmist attitude and throws in HILARIOUS comic relief. I LOVE Leslie Garrett's tone!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Virtuous Consumer 07 Oct. 3 2007
By natvh - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I love this book! I wanted to get back into being eco-conscious (fell out during those wild years of college in the mid-90s, I'm so ashamed) and this book was a wonderful jumping off point. Sections on clothes, cosmetics, house products, kids, cars, gardening, etc. are thorough and fun to read. I will use it as a reference forever! In fact, I'll re-read it before I get pregnant and before I buy a house.

While I want to buy another copy of this book to inspire my not-so-eco-conscious but very pregnant cousin, my granola brother would find it too basic. That is NOT to say it is armchair environmentalism. Ms. Garrett is serious about being green in every way she can be without disengaging from popular culture: she has switched to a green power provider and composts, etc. And while she may not be 100%, her quest is inspirational. I just hope she updates every few years because I want to know more places to turn to for products and ideas.

I also bought and recommend "Clean House, Clean Planet" by Logan and "Living Green" by Horn.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book July 28 2007
By Fun Gal - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Leslie Garrett is a fantastic writer who has managed to break through the confusing world of how to act in an eco friendly world, while acknowledging that being perfect at it all the time just isn't going to happen. With personal and funny anecdotes, great references, research, and an easy to read style, you won't be able to put it down...and you will change some of your ways. She has a gentle way of convincing without preaching - even to the Hummer driving, bottled water drinking crowd.
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, Informing but Not Preachy Jan. 29 2014
By Nate - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm loving this book. I was drawn by wanting to learn new ways to change the world through my purchases. I was delighted to find a well written book I would be happy to pass on to anyone new to this concept of shopping!
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