books sustainability

One Planet Living, by Pooran Desai and Paul King

One of the frustrations with trying to reduce personal carbon footprints is that no matter what you do, reducing your CO2 emissions to an equitable share (the amount we could emit if everyone in the world had an equal allowance) is very difficult. With most books and programmes, you could follow every tip you’re given and still come nowhere near the level of one planet living.

Which is why the title of this book caught my eye, and I picked it up on Bookmooch. It’s a little book, full of pictures and glossy graphics, and it introduces ten principles of sustainable living. These include zero carbon and zero waste, but also fair trade, local culture, and wildlife conservation. Always good to see a holistic approach. It’s easy to read, and there are some great practical examples. Despite its drastic oversimplifications, it’s probably a useful starting point for those very new to the idea of sustainability.

However, one planet living in this context is One Planet Living with capital letters, a scheme set up by WWF and Bioregional. If you’ve visited B+Q recently, you’ll see the little One Planet Living logo on the staff uniforms. The work that’s being done with business is great, but this is a book that promotes sustainable living and its own projects in equal measure. For example, the book talks about how polluting aviation is, and advises that we avoid flying as much as possible. Then, just a few pages later, the reader is invited to “take a holiday with One Planet Living” at one of Bioregional’s centres in Australia, South Africa, or China. Luckily for us we can offset that flight, we’re told, and perhaps we’d like to use Gold Standard scheme, which is run by WWF.

The One Planet Living project has much to recommend it, but the book is rather compromised by conflict of interests and self-promotion.

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