Buy Better Consume Less by Sian Conway-Wood

This book wasn’t at all what I expected, but in the best possible way.

At this point in time, I’ve read a lot of books about the environment and if I’m being honest, I thought this would be another fairly low-hanging-fruit, take-a-reusable-water-bottle kind of affair. Happily though, it’s really not. It’s a considered, nuanced look at why the things we’re doing aren’t necessarily for the best and it’s a take that I feel is long, long overdue.

I’ll let this paragraph speak for itself.

This is exactly the sort of advice that the environmental movement is missing. Prior to this paragraph, the author details ways in which tools like Carbon Footprints, and Sustainable Clothing collections from mainstream fashion retailers are actually muddying the waters. The book discusses the ways in which feel-good slogans are weaponised against consumers, and used to fill our bandwidth with guilt so that we feel bad and buy more.

I mean, yeah, it’s technically true, but that’s a lot of pressure for your breakfast cereal to be putting on you at 7am

When tackling food waste, for example, it doesn’t patronise by suggesting meal planning, but talks about setting up or finding initiatives like community fridges. It also acknowledges that there are so many different fronts to fight when it comes to food – that so many times, consumers are forced to choose between avoiding plastic or avoiding animal products, or between local produce and vegan foods. Just having those decisions recognised shows how imperfect our fight against the climate crisis is.

If you’re sick of trying your hardest and seeing no change, this is the book for you. Yes, it’s hard reading at times, but it’s also important reading. As someone who’s been doing this a long time, I found it validating and galvanising.

Have you read this book? Have you participated in the author’s #EthicalHour on Twitter? What’s your favourite book for people a little further along this journey?

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