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Ecological Intelligence: The Hidden Impacts of What We Buy

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  906 Ratings  ·  145 Reviews
The bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence and Primal Leadership now brings us Ecological Intelligence—revealing the hidden environmental consequences of what we make and buy, and how with that knowledge we can drive the essential changes we all must make to save our planet and ourselves.

We buy “herbal” shampoos that contain industrial chemicals that can threaten our
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Crown Business (first published 2009)
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Jun 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this one and had a hard time putting it down! Goleman writes about how "green" really isn't "green." We may think we are buying green, but he says that nothing made industrially can be utterly green, only relatively more so. He talks about how "freegans" are green, as they try never to buy anything new, try not to drive, etc. Not a way of life that most of us will live, especially when it comes to food.

Good Guide is evaluating a lot of the chemicals found in the products we use
Marjorie Elwood
I kept wishing this would be more interesting.

It's such an earnest book that details how we can make purchasing more transparent, such that consumers will spur an ecological revolution by buying only goods made in an ecologically safe fashion. The problem with the book, for me, as with many such 'green' books, is that - by the time I've finished reading it - I feel overwhelmed by the number of toxic chemicals in our environment and completely incapable of doing anything about it.

Good quote:
May 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The thesis is that buying power can change the world. Goleman may have slightly over-extended his argument, but he makes a persuasive case.
The Book Man
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Ecological Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman was such an inspirational book for me. Before reading this book I thought I knew enough how to take care for my health, to save environment and to treat it well, but this book was an “eye-opener” for me. I learnt a lot about health, environment, activism, or entrepreneurship.
“Ecological refers to an understanding of organism and their ecosystems, and intelligence connotes the capacity to learn from experience and deal effectively with our environment.
If individual readers and businesses haven't heard previously about Life Cycle Assessment, radical transparency, and websites like Good Guides and Skin Deep, this book is worth a look.

Toxins accumulating in the environment and our bodies could be a depressing topic, but the author presents a hopeful message and a vision of how to move forward to improve things.

Some changes have, in fact, already begun using information technology and consumer power. More change is on the horizon to give indi
Montanna Wildhack
Dec 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two recommended apps for concerned consumers: Skin Deep for personal hygiene products and Good Guide for everything else. The triple bottom line is evaluated: toxicity, social responsibility and environmental responsibility.

Otherwise, here's what stands out in this book: notions of life-cycle assessments (LCAs), the triple bottom line (health, society, environment), and most of all radical transparency - the notion that if we had more information available at point of purchase, we would make be
Mar 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, after this, I feel ashamed of making ANY purchase (including local, organic vegetarian foods)! Believing I'm a conscientious shopper has apparently only been vanity on my part. No matter how much I keep my lights off, turn my heat down, take public transit, refrain from making frivolous purchases, and don't contribute to population growth, it's not enough. I feel discouraged by this book.

There is a lot of information contained in the book and it could be well used to fuel the fire for
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be repetitive at the beginning and pretty depressing. As I continued reading I was appreciative of information about links such as GoodGuide which consumers can use to help make decisions about what they purchase based on a number of parameters.
"GoodGuide can evaluate a company's policies, its disclosure of key information on products, and ultimately a company's impacts on consumers, workers, communities, and the environment."

Warning: GoodGuide can eat up a lot of your time.
Dec 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the treatment of incremental improvements:

"Finally, are radical transparency and all its incremental improvements enough? The adequacy of perpetual upgrades alone was questioned from a surprising source: John Ehrenfeld, the executive director of the International Society for Industrial Ecology. One of the founders of the field, Ehrenfeld fears that in terms of the massive challenges facing our planet, these gradual improvements may be too little, too late. Ehrenfeld points out tha
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: environment
Warning: not for the faint of heart. The more I read books like this, and start thinking about the thousands of environmental effects connected to even the simplest of everyday activities, the harder it gets to live in the world. Although a little redundant at times, Goleman presents critical information and ideas about how we can start moving toward a less toxic, more sustainable world. I especially appreciated the section on how many modern diseases, including autism, COPD, multiple sclerosis ...more
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As I picked it up at the library having not carefully reading the subtitle, I thought if was more along the lines of Gardner's multiple intelligences, so it was quite a bit different from what I was expecting. That being said, generally the topic interests me so I kept reading. He makes a case for "radical transparency" (making clear the environmental and social impact of goods), but I don't have his faith that making such a database will massively impact peoples' spending habits. Some of the th ...more
Jun 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ramblerjessica
This book is a must-read for every consumer! The author talks about how we really don’t have a transparent marketplace – meaning that we really don’t know the labor force that goes into making our products and the true carbon cost of items since companies hide this information and we don’t do our best to look for it. If we did, we could make wiser decisions as consumers. Goleman talks about how this is changing and how to support the change.

One of the BEST things I learned in this book is to go
Assumes you know the ecology. This book is focused on the idea that 'radical transparency' regrading the origins and production processes of the goods we buy would allow us to make market choices that would create more sustainable consumption. It shows some interesting examples of what market pressure can do when the public is informed. But we are far from the state of information Goleman considers necessary and would take a lot of activism in people demanding the information which many, if not ...more
Feb 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
كتاب رائع جدا .. اروع ما فيه انه دسم بالمعلومات وانه يكسب القارئ فعلا شيء من الذكاء البيئي المطلوب في عصرنا الحالي
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Illuminante! Mi aspettavo un approccio molto più psicologico, solo "l'amigdala va a fare la spesa" è intrinso delle spiegazioni che cercavo, ma onestamente non fa nulla: l'ecologia industriale è dannatamente interessante!
Si vede benissimo che l'autore ha incluso ogni tanto qualche considerazione nel suo campo di studi solo per combinare il meglio possibile ciò a cui sono stato abituati i suoi lettori e ciò che voleva realmente scrivere, infatti nella sua spiegazione dell'intelligenza ecologica
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After learning the phrase ‘eco-literacy; in Bali a few months back I investigated the literature in the area and stumbled across this book. I have always meant to read Emotional Intelligence but have not got around to it yet. This title jumped out at me straight away. And it answered some of my pondering over the last 2 years. How can we make supply chains more transparent and - dare I say it- sexier? How can we move consumers to be more engaged and active and mindful over their purchases?

I lear
Jeremy Lyon
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is insightful and full of information on why we need transparency into the impact of our purchases on the environment.

My only nitpick with this book, the reason why I can't rate it with 5 stars, is that it feels at times like Goleman is acting like this is his movement. He writes about other people's findings and solutions, yet says that he came up with the label "ecological intelligence". I get it...he writes books that are titled "... Intelligence".

Pretty good book, but very preachy
essential read on how to turn emotional intelligence into ecological intelligence; how to convert internal awareness and well-being into external awareness and well-being; written by the NYT award winning psychologist Daniel Goleman who was incremental in shifting Western focus from IQ to EQ and showing the strong overlap between areas of modern psychology and ancient Buddhism. Must read for Chinese (but not only) who are stuck in family or nation mindedness, ie a form of magnified selfishness, ...more
Joe Farhaven
Some interesting points about transparency improving ecological impacts, but fails to address shortcomings and flaws in this approach. Too long for what it is.
Erin Noble
Jul 20, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, green
Goleman uses his impressive grasp of informational and social trends to argue for the role of radical transparency* as an environmental savior. While I learned from his descriptions of informational web programs like the Good Guide** and Earthster***, Ecological Intelligence comes off as more of a cheerleading routine than a critical analysis than.

Consider this quote from p. 246: "This informational fix hasbeen a missing piece in the free market system all along, one that holds the promise of en
Samaa Ahmed
Goleman argues that there is much more complexity to “ecofriendliness” than most people are aware of. For example, he explains that recycling is not always better for the environment, because it still uses lots of energy, and can be detrimental to human health as well. Instead, he posits three domains that we should be concerned with: the geosphere, biosphere, and sociosphere (p 57).

Goleman offers a measurement of environmental impact, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) that “allows us to systematicall
Mar 04, 2017 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-read
Want to learn how some sunscreens have chemicals that turn to carcinogens when exposed to the sun? Want to learn how your buying habits affect you, the environment and the rest of the world? Read, or listen to, this book.

This book or audio book is a great learning tool for anyone that wants to learn about the products we buy. The purpose of "Ecological Intelligence" is to educate the reader (or listener, in my case) about the things we use, are exposed to, buy and consume every day. Daniel Gole
From Publishers Weekly

Two years ago, British fashion designer Anna Hindmarch produced the must-have accessory of the season: a bleached, organic cotton tote manufactured in fair-wage factories, subsidized with carbon offsets and emblazoned with the slogan, I'm NOT a plastic bag. But according to Goleman (_Emotional Intelligence_), the people who bought the bag were advertising their ecological ignorance, not their consciousness. In this thorough examination of the inconsistencies and delusions

Feb 21, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the title is a good theme for the environmental movement as it transitions into the 21st Century. To try and sum up in a couple sentences: Goleman describes how, within the capitalist global economic institution we've essentially got in place today, a new value order known as "radical transparency" (i.e., mostly via "an informed consumer") will provide the essential piece to uncover the impacts of external costs and benefits on our ecological systems create sustainable "virtuous cycles" ...more
So after 'reading' this book for about a year, today I finally finished it.

I picked up this book for a song in the 'closing down' sale of Borders. It sounded right up my alley. I've started it about 14 times and never made it past chapter 7, but today I decided to devote my plane journey to it and I'm glad to say its finally finished.

The premise is simple, we consume too much, we consume wastefully and we consume irrationally. The book doesn't really cover the first point but for the latter 2 it
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are some good ideas in this book. The author's basic concept is as follows: Unbiased organizations are beginning to rate the ecological and social practices involved in a particular manufacturer's production of a specific items. For example, a T shirt produced by a company that uses little water, returns any unused water to streams in pristine condition and pays workers an adequate salary to live on, would rate much higher on both social and ecological considerations than one from a compan ...more
Shannon David
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A fantastic primer on ecological intelligence, Goleman arms the reader with language from which to begin thinking about their relationship to the living and natural environment, and society at large, especially in terms of our consumption-oriented, growth-centered society. Although interconnected with concepts of sustainability, Goreman discusses more than the triple bottom line of social, economic and environmental goals, and more than meeting today's needs without confounding future goals. He ...more
Mar 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: make-me-smarter
The title includes, "..How knowing the hidden impacts of what we buy can change everything." So when I picked up the book I was expecting it to tell me a plastic water bottle is better than the aluminum water bottle. But, that's not true, it turns out to be a very fuzzy line. The plastic may use less energy to create and use many toxic chemicals to produce but the aluminum could be recycled at the end of its use but the energy used to make it is so very high, is it worth it? He explains what a L ...more
Bradley Jarvis
Feb 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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Author of Emotional Intelligence and psychologist Daniel Goleman has transformed the way the world educates children, relates to family and friends, and conducts business. The Wall Street Journal ranked him one of the 10 most influential business thinkers.

Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence was on The New York Times best sellers list for a year-and-a-half. Named one of the 25 "Most Influential Busine
More about Daniel Goleman...

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