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The Secret Life of Stuff: A Manual for a New Material World

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  67 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Wouldn't you like:

- Products that don't damage the environment?

- A better way of life without agonising about your 'footprint'?

- To really know your stuff?

Climate change? Biofuels? Nuclear power? Landfills? Recycling? Renewable energy? Environmental issues can feel overwhelming. But, in fact, it is simple; it all comes down to one thing - stuff.

Our use of the Earth's res
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 6th 2011 by Vintage
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Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a terrific book, especially for those humans interested in making our societies zero waste. The text is bookended with the story of Evie and Ed who live a few decades in the future and they're living quite an ideal life with shorter work weeks, a society where composting is the norm, a world that builds things to last, extracts very little to make products, and generally maintains a circular economy. In between these opening and closing chapters we get somewhat of a roadmap as to how the ...more
Lee-Ann Sleegers
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Review of The Secret Life of Stuff: A Manual for a New Material World written by Julie Hill, released by Random House UK, January 2011.

I have a casual interest in books that challenge me to think about how I can live a less resource heavy lifestyle. The Secret Life of Stuff: A Manual for a New Material World (The Secret Life of Stuff) was just that kind of book, forcing me to really think about the world around me and the resources consumed. This wasn't your typical “green living” book that disc
Katie O'Sullivan
Feb 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Well-organized, egaging, informative, and importantly: optimistic. Her vision of a more sustainable future relies on cooperation between government and the private sector, which is important. There could be clearer direction for common consumers (most readers) to enact broader change outside of our personal "stuff accumulation" habits. ...more
N. P. Thao
Sep 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: m-skills
Not an easy read for a layperson, non-native speaker like me as it contains a vast amount of scientific information, and here and there it goes a bit technical. I like this book for the total and complete picture of environmental protection it presents, including how everyone - the governments, the businesses, the activists and the public - fits in. At the same time, it makes me feel overwhelmed by stressing the roles of governments and businesses which are even less expected in my country.
Aug 16, 2019 rated it liked it
There are definitely interesting items in this book, particularly the overviews of material types and a chapter on futuristic material use.
The biggest focus is on waste and recycling management.

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 21, 2016 rated it liked it
This book helped me see things in a clearer way. For example, we often hear ideas for more environmentally products and wonder, "Well, why don't we just do that?" This book takes you in depth about many resources giving you a better understanding of these ideas. Something may seem more environmentally sound but could require more processing (energy) to create it. An example I've learned from another source is there is a plant grown in Madagascar (which I can't figure out what it's name is right ...more
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thought provoking book on products, consumption, and our relationship with 'stuff.' I especially liked the section outlining the lack of and need for full life-cycle information on products, both for us as consumers and for manufacturers, who can then use information to create more efficient goods. At the same time, the book is clear in outlining basic challenges, including that the cost of materials like plastic remains untied to its linear cycle as a product or true carbon footprint, and that ...more
Mar 29, 2012 rated it liked it
I plucked this off the new arrivals shelf impulsively and later discovered it is from a UK perspective so I ended up skimming it. I found it pretty sobering. Even people trying to shop green don't have a lot of choices or are given only part of the information by retailers. Ultimately, buying less and keeping it longer are the way to go and the letter within written about about the excesses of Americans was depressing. We don't all have to behave like that no matter what retailers are telling us ...more
Sarah Guldenbrein
If everyone read this book, the world would be a better place. That said, it's more a survey of the subject than an in-depth guide. I was looking for deeper understanding of waste and consumption patterns. There was some good stuff in here to be sure, particularly if you're interested in materials science, but I didn't find it to be especially eye-opening as I've long ago internalized the author's overarching message. ...more
Jul 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a straightforward but fairly enlightening read about material waste. She hits all the major issues and provides some clear and interesting facts about major material groups (wood, plastic, metals etc). Its popular science at its best.

I very much enjoyed it, even if it doesn't offer that ever elusive panacea for our waste problems.
Dianne Burton
Aug 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Superb really gets you thinking about where this need for things comes from and what can be done to improve things in the future. A must read for anyone questioning consumerism.
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