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Inconspicuous Consumption

The Environmental Impact You Don't Know You Have
Narrated by: Tatiana Schlossberg
Length: 7 hrs and 49 mins
4 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From former New York Times Science writer Tatiana Schlossberg comes Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don't Know You Have, a fascinating and unexpectedly entertaining look at the way climate change and environmental pollution are intimately involved in our everyday life - in everything we use, buy, eat, wear, and how we get around - and have consequences that extend far beyond our lives. 

With urgency and wit, Tatiana Schlossberg explains that far from being only a distant problem of the natural world created by the fossil fuel industry, climate change is all around us, all the time, lurking everywhere in our convenience-driven society, all without our realizing it. 

By examining the unseen and unconscious environmental impacts in four areas-the Internet and technology, food, fashion, and fuel - Schlossberg helps listeners better understand why climate change is such a complicated issue, and how it connects all of us: How streaming a movie on Netflix in New York burns coal in Virginia; how eating a hamburger in California might contribute to pollution in the Gulf of Mexico; how buying an inexpensive cashmere sweater in Chicago expands the Mongolian desert; how destroying forests from North Carolina is necessary to generate electricity in England. 

Cataloging the complexities and frustrations of our carbon-intensive society with a dry sense of humor, Schlossberg makes the climate crisis and its solutions interesting and relevant to everyone who cares, even a little, about the planet. She empowers listeners to think about their stuff and the environment in a new way, helping them make more informed choices when it comes to the future of our world. 

Most importantly, this is a book about the power we have as voters and consumers to make sure that the fight against climate change includes all of us and all of our stuff, not just industry groups and politicians. If we have any hope of solving the problem, we all have to do it together. 

©2019 Tatiana Schlossberg (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"[A] straightforward, accessible look at the environmental impact of consumer habits...With insight and urgency, Schlossberg prods readers to think more deeply...[and] delivers an intriguing and educational narrative." (Publishers Weekly)

"The author breaks complex issues down to be understandable to the lay reader, while her humor and wit ensure that readers will close the book feeling energized rather than hopeless." (Booklist, starred review)

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Great topic, but execution could be better

This book was something I always wanted to read - a guide that better informs the average consumer about our impact so we can make better choices. After all, we're not expected to be experts on cotton watering needs or denim recycling in order to buy jeans. This book tackles a decent number of those exact topics, though the Omnivores Dilemma appears to be better for understanding food consumption.

But the execution and writing is rough - there is a very dry sense of humor throughout that breaks up the narrative in a very distracting way. There is also a mix of stats that don't mean much (e.g. 100 trillion pounds of something) rather than establishing a simpler or cohesive metric, or using more relatable term (e.g. consistently discussing percentage of overall energy use rather than some unrelatable unit like BTUs). Finally, there are often tangents on how our consumption affects our socioeconomic environment rather than the natural environment - both our important, but I find it distracting to switch between the two. For example, when discussing cashmere, I found it confusing to switch between the climate of the Gobi desert and the plight of the nomadic way of goat herders...both our important, but only one of those is within the narrative I was expecting in this book. Finally, after reading this book I feel more confused about what to do than before - the conclusion from the author on most topics was unactionable, or just a version of throwing up our hands and saying, "this stuff is complicated, so I guess we'll never really know what the right thing to do is".

An important topic, but I hope another author can write a more actionable guide for consumers who care about their impact.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great Information, Ill-Advised Attempts at Humor

As the title of this review suggests, the book is filled with valuable information for a lay reader who wants to understand how climate change affects our daily lives. The author knows her subject, and provides perceptive insights into the impact of our seemingly innocent behavior on the environment.

That said, the ubiquitous attempts at humor, which must grate on a reader, are even more grating when heard aloud. They seem to indicate either a lack of confidence in the material itself, or an appeal to a different readership/listenership.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Read before it’s even more late

A depressing depiction . Should be required in elementary and high schools. For those of us routinely clothed in oil it may be too late.