Julie Hill is a long standing environmental campaigner. Her new book The Secret Life of Stuff explores the environmental issues around consumerism and our love of material stuff. Julie describes herself as an 'unashamed optimist' and 'someone who really likes shopping' but who buys most things in second hand shops so she doesn't feel guilty about it (she also admitted to being totally fascinated by what people give away to second hand shops). In her conversation today with environmental journalist, Rob Edwards, at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, she ranged over some of the environmental and economical issues relating to consumerism and our love of stuff. The event was, like most book festival events, only an hour long, and aimed to start the audience thinking about the issues rather than to solve the problems! These issues include:
are there limits to growth and how are these defined?
how much stuff is too much?
at what point does attachment to material things become a problem?
how much can materials and energy be reused and recirculated to reduce consumption?
how can we take green consumerism out of being a niche lifestyle choice and make it the ordinary way that we look at our choices around stuff?
can capitalism ver be compatible with sustainability?
The discussion was engaging and wide ranging and left the audience with plenty to think about. To fit in with the arguments of the event, Julie suggested that the audience should borrow or share copies of the book, but it can also be purchased in most book stores or online here.
Julie Hill used to work for Green Alliance and you can read their review of the book here (this article also has some useful links).
The Secret Life of Stuff by Julie Hill, published by Vintage Books.
I attended this Book Festival event for free due to having a press pass. I then attended the Story Shop event which is FREE for everyone. Today, Sarah Stewart read a couple of very short stories. Story Shop is a series of ten minute readings from new and emerging Edinburgh writers, at 4pm every day during the Book Festival, you can see the full Story Shop programme here.