Not Your Grandfather's Consumer Guide

Having posted this week about the whimsical and useless (Bada Being and Nothingness) and the wistful longing for far away locales (Armchair Travel: Scotland) I am seized today by a midweek urge to post something Practical and Useful for a change.

Today’s book selection bears little resemblance to Consumer Reports Buying Guides or other purchasing advice titles you may be familiar with. The Rough Guide to Shopping with a Conscience could be described as the mass market arrival of “ethical consumerism”, transformed by the travel books publisher, which has begun expanding their Rough Guide logo and series tie in to books covering an array of consumer products, industries and issues in addition to the destination travel guides which were the original series focus.

If you are looking for an indexed listing of ethically troubled companies and products to avoid, you will not find it here. What you will find is a nuanced and detailed discussion of the ethics of consumption, stating from such base line questions as “should we shop ethically?”, and progressing to advanced questions such as the unintended harms that may result from a focus on ethical consumption.

Clark and Uterberger guide the reader to consider their choices as consumers, to empower themselves with knowledge about alternatives and the impacts of different choices and to negotiate the modern consumer landscape knowledgeably and ethically. This does of course require a great deal more thought and effort than purchasing a book that tells you what to buy and who not to buy it from but leaves the reader much better prepared to make purchasing choices consistent with her or his own ethics, rather than relying on a list prepared by someone who may have a very different agenda than you do. Recommended.