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Spend or Save? Solutions to the Modern Dilemma
Twenty years after co-authoring the original Green Consumer Guide with John Elkington, sustainable lifestyle expert Julia Hailes has delivered an up-to-date and painstakingly researched edition of the eco-shoppers’ bible.

There are chapters on all aspects of modern life, from transport to food via DIY and housework. Even death and burial do not escape the Hailes’ eco-microscope. Important governing factors such as climate change and sustainability are taken into consideration for every purchasing choice: this often results in a trade-off between the greater and the lesser evil, with no 100% green options.

Here are just a few of the ethical dilemmas highlighted by TNGCG.

- Are UK-grown but inorganic strawberries in season preferable to their organic counterparts flown halfway round the world at Christmas time?

- Should one choose Eco-balls over detergent to do one’s washing when the results are not exactly spectacular?

- And as for nappies, should one prefer reusable ones, knowing that frequent washing and drying contributes as much to carbon emissions as disposables clutter up landfill sites.

Many of Julia’s conclusions are somewhat unexpected, even controversial. Her claim that plastic bags are not so bad after all is one that I would heartily disagree with, and, despite delivering many imaginative and inspired ideas throughout the book, she does not make the obvious case here for re-manufacturing unwanted surplus clothing into sturdy shopping bags.

Another dislike of mine (heavily promoted in TNGCG) is the Eco-kettle. I do not understand why anyone would wish to purchase an expensive gadget to boil ‘the right number of cups’ when one can quite easily fill any ordinary kettle by using a cup as the measure? This may take a fraction more time, but the boiling times are identical. A greener lifestyle is by definition slower-paced and replete with thought and analysis – and less consumerism!

Overall, however, the book is exceptionally useful: its friendly, down-to-earth tone coupled with funky, clear and bright design values delivers multiple verdicts on every aspect of the modern shopping/living experience. If you are always too busy to do your own research and bewildered by the welter of product information available, this book is definitely for you.

Review written by Diana Korchien, Director of Flipside Vision - the publisher of the Climate Change Wall Calendar.

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