Two months ago, I asked for M&Q customers who would review books for us. I got a great response–so much so that I fell behind in posting the reviews. My apologies to those of you whose fine work is still in the hopper; I have not forgotten.
To kick off the series I’m calling “Citizen Reviews,” April Nelson discusses Daniel Goleman’s latest book. Goleman’s previous book Emotional Intelligence showed that smart is more than IQ. His latest book aims to teach us all to be smarter consumers, too. –David E
|Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything|
|My consumer’s dilemma has to do with attempting to make ecologically responsible decisions in my day-to-day life, but not always having easy access to the information necessary. What Daniel Goleman proposes to combat this dilemma, in his book Ecological Intelligence, is the idea of radical transparency. Radical transparency, as Goleman defines the term, is “tracking every substantial impact of an item from manufacture to disposal—not just its carbon footprint and other environmental costs, but its biological risks, as well as its consequences for those who labored to make it—and summarizing those impacts for shoppers as they are deciding what to purchase.”
While I was reading, thoughts kept bubbling up in the back of my mind about the pair of Nike workout pants I’d recently purchased, and their questionable stigma. A few passing mentions in the book suggest that Nike has done a lot to improve their social impact. It would have been great if, when I was shopping for workout pants, I had been able to tell quickly each company’s environmental, biological and social impacts. Goleman gives inspiring examples of retailers that have already taken it upon themselves to provide these services to their customers and innovative concerned citizens that have created databases providing easily accessible information to consumers.
I have always thought that if manufacturers were to change their ways (i.e., their manufacturing methods or the chemicals they use in their products), the change would have to come about through government regulations. I was very excited to read Goleman’s support of the idea that our power as consumers, including business-to-business consumers, is considerable. The bottom line of this book is that businesses are prepared to cater to consumers’ desires, whether they are centered around ecological responsibility or saving money. The inspiring thing: the two do not seem to be mutually exclusive.
|By day, April Nelson is an attorney’s sidekick. By night, she is a Minneapolis-dwelling, voraciously-reading, dog-loving, eagerly-bicycling student pursuing a biology degree.|