Goodreads: Inconspicuous Consumption
How much energy is used by an internet search? Does cotton really have a lower environmental impact than synthetic materials? Have ride shares lowered or raised our collective carbon footprint? Tatiana Schlossberg delves into the environmental impact we have every day, whether we realize it or not.
Inconspicuous Consumption by Tatiana Schlossberg attempts to draw attention to the everyday areas in which we consume goods, use energy, and impact the environment. Though some readers may already be aware of many of the issues raised–microplastics in the ocean from our synthetic fabrics, the carbon footprint of eating meat and dairy, the destruction of global forests to fuel our lifestyles–Schlossberg provides value by digging a little deeper into issues that may have puzzled readers.
For instance, is it less impactful to stream a movie or to buy the physical DVD? Have ride shares actually decreased traffic and pollution as promised, or have they raised both? Is buying cotton clothing actually a more environmentally-friendly choice than buying synthetic materials? Schlossberg explains how all of our choices have an impact on the earth, often making it difficult for consumers to figure out what they should do.
Schlossberg’s book is refreshing in that it admits that consumers alone will never be able to save the planet. The reality is that big corporations have been doing the most polluting, often disproportionately affecting communities of color and people who have the least political protection. So far, most governments have allowed these companies to do as they please, meaning they can make large revenues while passing on the environmental costs (polluted groundwater, increased illnesses and birth defects, etc.) onto their workers and the people who live next to their factories. Companies then claim that they have no responsibility for their actions, that consumers must put pressure on them to do better–even though most companies will never make it easy for consumers to figure out what their environmental policies actually are. It’s depressing to hear, but also a relief that someone is finally acknowledging that we cannot fight our way out of climate change just by turning off our lights and doing less laundry.
Schlossberg admits that the facts of the matter can make the situation seem bleak, but the book’s ultimate argument is that informed consumers can do more to put pressure onto their political representatives and the companies they are currently protecting. Informed consumers will be able to tell when they are being deceived, or being fed “solutions” that are just greenwashing. For real change, we need collective action. Books like Schossberg’s help draw attention to the problem, and hopefully are the start to a real solution.
- Nearly half of purchases that are returned to the store actually end up in a landfill.
- It’s believed about 31% of the food produced in the U.S. goes uneaten, though some believe the percentage is higher.
- Much of the food that goes unharvested is because Americans are unwilling to eat produce that looks “weird,” even if nothing is wrong with it.
- In Europe, burning wood counts as “carbon neutral,” even though it isn’t. Schlossberg says the U.S. will soon decide the same.
- About 70% of the world’s e-waste (used or old electronics) is assumed to have been thrown away, as it remains unaccounted for.
- The Super Bowl causes a disproportionate amount of e-waste from Americans buying upgraded TVs (that they don’t really need) in order to watch the big game.