The Story of Upfront Carbon: How a Life of Just Enough Offers a Way Out of the Climate Crisis

New Society. May 2024. 192p. ISBN 9780865719927. pap. $22.99. SELF-HELP
Companies use terms like “eco-friendly,” “recyclable,” and “carbon-neutral” to persuade customers that their products will not harm the environment. They may claim to have constructed it better or that it will make buyers’ lives more sustainable. Separated into four sections, this title from author and adjunct professor Alter (sustainable design, Toronto Metropolitan Univ.; Living the 1.5 Degree Lifestyle) explains with science the meaning of energy costs and potential greenwashing (using phrases to sound better for the environment). It is not written like a guidebook for living “zero waste,” but rather an information- and data-heavy conversation explaining the environmental damage of products or energy. This includes how objects came into being and the pollution costs already built into the materials when purchased. Potential solutions are compared (like electric vehicles and heat pumps) that can improve a systemic way of life. The overall theme is to live a healthier life without the need for more stuff.
VERDICT An information-heavy overview of the cost of new purchases and how they affect the world. Though it’s BISAC’d as self-help, this is more of a technical book that will be beneficial to those looking to understand the pollution costs embedded in new things or seeking justification for living a simpler lifestyle.
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