What We’re Reading

Here are some recommendations for books that address the issues of electronics manufacturing, recycling, obsolescence, over-consumption, and green chemistry.


Ken Geiser CHemicals with HarmChemicals Without Harm: Policies for a Sustainable World

by Ken Geiser, Professor Emeritus of Work Environment at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Founder and past Co-director of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production.

Today, there are thousands of synthetic chemicals used to make our clothing, cosmetics, household products, electronic devices, even our children’s toys. Many of these chemicals help us live longer and more comfortable lives, but some of these highly useful chemicals are also persistent, toxic, and dangerous to our health and the environment. For fifty years, the conventional approach to hazardous chemicals has focused on regulation, barriers, and protection. In Chemicals without Harm, Ken Geiser proposes a different strategy, based on developing and adopting safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals rather than focusing exclusively on controlling them. More info.


Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

by Beth Terry

The writer behind the popular blog, Beth is a role model for how we can stop buying and trashing so much plastic in our lives. Her book includes her personal experiences plus practical advice for how we can limit our plastic footprint.


lwdw_cover_475px_691Lightweb Darkweb: Three Reasons To Reform Social Media Before It Re-Forms Us

by Raffi Cavoukian

You may know this writer by just his first name, Raffi.  He’s a hugely popular children’s entertainer, as well as a music producer, entrepreneur, and founder of the Centre for Child Honouring.

Lightweb Darkweb makes the case for the critical need to reform social media, especially for young users.  He offers three reasons for social media reform: safety, intelligence, and sustainability. A response to the suicide of Vancouver teen Amanda Todd after years of online harassment, and dedicated to her, Lightweb Darkweb is a call for sanity in the digital age:

  • social media providers must make systemic changes for young users safety
  • parents need to regulate their kids’ screen time and social media use
  • society can optimize the benefits of the Internet only by reducing its shadow of social, ecological and health hazards.

The China Price: The True Cost of Chinese Competitive Advantage

By Alexandra Harney.

With the recent scandals involving tainted food and toys from China, and mounting concern over the ever-growing pollution produced by Chinese industry, it’s clear that what happens in China does not stay in China:  It has a tangible, and at times devastating, global effect.  With THE CHINA PRICE:  The True Cost of Chinese Competitive Advantage veteran foreign correspondent Alexandra Harney has written a landmark exposé of how China’s factory economy competes for Western business by selling out its workers, its future, and the environment. More info.


Book cover High Tech TrashHigh Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxics, and Human Health

by Elizabeth Grossman.

The First Global Investigation of Technology’s Toxic Underside. Deep within every electronic device lie dangerous materials like lead, cadmium and mercury, which have been linked to cancer and learning disabilities.  The manufacture and disposal of electronics have spread these chemicals around the globe and into our communities, our food and our bodies.  Grossman exposes this lurking crisis and details the potential solutions, including a recycling guide for consumers and a look at what companies and politicians are doing (and not doing) to solve the problem. More info.


Challenging the Chip: Labor Rights and Environmental Justice in the Global Electronics Industry

Edited by Ted Smith, David A. Sonnenfeld and David Naguib Pellow.

Foreword by Jim Hightower.

More info



Story of Stuff: How our obsession with stuff is trashing the planet, our communities, and our health

by Annie Leonard

“The intrepid Ann Leonard has written an eye-opening, humorous, and highly readable account of how our seemingly innocuous lifestyles are part of a larger system of destruction and dysfunction. Leonard gets my vote for hero of the year. A must-read.”

Juliet B. Schor, author of Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth and professor of sociology at Boston College.   More info.