Category Archives: Pines

8.3 Billion Reasons to Break Free From Plastic

Ever since seeing the now famous YouTube clip of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nose, I?ve made an effort to avoid plastic straws. When I go grocery shopping I take my own bags and I also make a point of eschewing the single-use bags in the fresh produce section (much to the consternation of the person weighing my fruit and vegetables).

I try to buy things packaged in glass, I drink filtered tap water and wear flip-flops made from recycled rubber. There are plenty of zero-waste activists out there who make my efforts seem positively puny, but at least I?m doing something, right?

It?s better than doing nothing, sure, but when you consider that humans have created 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics since large-scale production of the synthetic materials began in the early 1950s, and most of it now resides in landfills or the natural environment, you realize its time to up your game.

I mean, it?s a little embarrassing to learn that Rwanda has banned plastic bags in their entirety and the campaign to eliminate plastic straws was started by a nine-year-old, when you?re still buying the occasional single-use plastic item just because it?s easier.

As if that wasn?t enough of a wakeup call, I then found out about Break Free From Plastic, a global movement on a mission to stop plastic pollution for good. With The Story of Stuff Project as one of their anchor organizations, members on almost every continent and the likes of Greenpeace joining forces with them, Break Free is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with.

All the Plastic Ever Made: Breaking Study Tallies 8.3 Billion Metric Tons

There?s literally a ton of plastic garbage for every person on earth. Think about that for a moment and then ruminate on this: of the 8.3 billion tons of plastic produced since the 1950s, over half of it was made between 2004 and now.

We all know that plastic is a problem, but whether it?s the desire for convenience, the fact that we?re lazy or that the problem just seems overwhelmingly large, we?re all acting as if nothing?s wrong. That has to change.

I caught up with Shilpi Chhotray, Senior Communications Officer at Break Free From Plastic to find out how. Her suggestions for effecting change at both a domestic and civic level are more than doable. Literally, we have no excuse not to implement them.

Shilpi isn?t just paying lip service to the movement either. She?s implemented these practices at her own company?Sumudra Skin + Sea?as well. She?started the?skincare line with an ?ocean-first? business model (Sumudra means ‘ocean’ in Sanskrit)?that uses?reusable glass containers?instead of plastic and edible-grade kelp as an ingredient source.

Photo Credit: Sumadra Skin + Sea

How did you come to be involved in the Break Free From Plastic movement?

I’ve been involved in ocean advocacy for a decade and became immersed in plastic waste issues a few years ago through my work in stakeholder engagement with an ocean plastic lens. I took a deep dive, if you will, on the major players (the companies creating it and the organizations fighting against it) and the key research around the issue during this time. In July 2017, I was recruited to take the role as a Senior Communications Officer to amplify the work of the organizations behind the movement.

We?re each drawn to the causes we support for different reasons. What prompted you to focus your efforts on ocean conservation?

It was a study abroad trip to Cairns, Australia, home to the Great Barrier Reef, when I was a college undergrad at Virginia Tech University. Being exposed to the human impacts on the environment, specifically the ocean, sparked a lifelong desire to protect our blue planet. I took my interest a step further and focused my efforts in graduate school on marine protected areas, or creating underwater national parks to safeguard earth’s most precious resources. After being introduced to the rocky intertidal ecosystem (and the magical world of seaweeds), I was inspired to study marine organisms through underwater exploration via scuba (and a human-powered submersible in a later position!).

The stats released in the latest study (8.3 billion tons of plastic produced since 1950) are overwhelming to say the very least. Is it really possible to turn the tide on plastic pollution?

And to add to that, only 9 percent has been recycled since, which sparks two major considerations not being discussed enough: first, the global north (US + Europe) export copious amounts of waste overseas and second, recycling is clearly not a viable solution to the plastic waste crisis.

It’s absolutely possible to turn the tide on plastic pollution and that’s what Break Free From Plastic is all about. By emphasizing source reduction and investing in zero waste solutions at the city-level, we can greatly combat plastic waste ending up in our ocean, roads and waterways.

For instance, one of our member organizations in the Philippines, Mother Earth Foundation, helps cities develop programs to manage their waste. In the city of San Fernando 75 percent of waste gets composted or recycled and they aim to hit 93 percent. Mother Earth’s President, Froilan Grate says, “If you truly want to stop ocean pollution, it starts on land, which means rethinking how we manage our waste.”

What do you say to the person on the street who thinks the problem is too big to fix?

We created the problem in the first place so we can also fix it. We HAVE to fix it because we’ve already reached the tipping point of acceptable levels of plastic pollution. Microplastics (broken down from larger pieces of plastic) are literally everywhere, from fish to seabirds to our sources of drinking water, and even sea salt and beer.

Using a reusable bag and skipping the straw is good place to start, but it’s a terrible place to stop. My colleagues at SOSP for instance, encourage a culture of ?leveling up? by taking these practices to your communities ?your office, your child’s school, after school clubs and even your favorite caf?, to effect widespread change.

Where you go next is to engage at the civic level. Talk to the companies! If you don’t like the business practices, tag them on Facebook, write to them about your concerns. You can also write to city government officials to pass regulations…these are all important steps to effect systems change.

I love this quote from our Campaigns Director, Stiv Wilson: “Our consumer muscles have gotten really strong and our citizen muscles have gotten really weak. Not everyone is an activist, figure out where you can contribute and plug in.”

How can we as individuals make a difference? Can you offer some suggestions (small and big) of changes we can make in our daily lives?

It’s important to make smart purchasing decisions and avoid brands emphasizing a throw away lifestyle (single-use plastics). Break Free From Plastic member organizations in the Philippines recently conducted an 8-day coastal cleanup and brand audit in Freedom Island, a critical area for migratory birds, to identify the most polluting brands. Turns out, six international brands are responsible for roughly 54 percent of plastic packaging pollution found there.

Among them are corporate behemoths like Nestl?, Unilever?and Proctor & Gamble ?parent companies of the brands sitting in your kitchen and bathroom right now. Break Free From Plastic is encouraging anyone doing coastal cleanup activities to combine it with a brand audit, because coastal cleanup is simply not enough. For more information visit Plastic Polluters.org.

There are greener alternatives that are better for us and the planet. Personally, I’ve transitioned to shopping for groceries in bulk, buying less, and a lot of DIY. Even slowing down and dining in can help reduce single-use plastic waste, and it’s more fun too!

What is the one thing you?d really like people to understand about the negative impact of plastic that we might not already know?

Plastic pollution is not just an ocean issue, it’s a social justice issue impacting low income people of color who are often on the front-lines of the crisis fighting incineration (or burning of plastic waste) for the safety of their communities. Many of these communities are also in Asia and being blamed for the waste they didn’t create, the waste coming from the developed world.

At Break Free From Plastic we are shining a spotlight on innovative and scalable solutions created by our Asian colleagues, focusing on zero-waste cities and making sure the responsibility falls on the corporations accountable.

Was being a socially conscious brand on the cards from day one for Samudra Skin + Sea or did the brand?s ethos evolve over time?

Absolutely ?it’s a social venture. We have an ?ocean-first? business model, which means protection for the ocean is the foundation for all aspects of our methods and mission. For instance, we hand harvest the wild seaweed used in our products to ensure the regenerative properties of the plant continue to thrive for generations to come.

We have a zero-waste packaging model which means all of our products are encased in reusable glass jars with bamboo lids and/or compostable boxes certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Our soap bar in particular, created for hair and body, eliminates the need for bottled shampoos and conditioners. We strongly advocate a ?less is more? mentality and repurposing and reusing when possible.

Our mission includes partnering on marine conservation campaigns that benefit people and marine life. The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito and 5 Gyres (who is also a Break Free From Plastic movement member) are two fantastic organizations we work with to communicate efforts around ocean stewardship. Personal wellness and ecological integrity need to go hand-in-hand, and Samudra is bridging that gap.

With so many people doing what they can to effect positive change in the world, it?s hard to just sit back and pretend that plastic is someone else?s problem. It?s everyone?s problem. In my own life, I?m definitely going to try harder to reduce the amount of waste I generate. What about you? How will you #breakfreefromplastic?

Related Stories:

5 Human Habits Harmful to Ocean Health

How to Tell if Your Sunscreen is Damaging Coral Reefs
22 Freaky Facts About Plastic Pollution

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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8.3 Billion Reasons to Break Free From Plastic

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Geekspeak – Graham Tattersall

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Geekspeak

Why Life + Mathematics = Happiness

Graham Tattersall

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: October 15, 2007

Publisher: Fourth Estate

Seller: HarperCollins


The quirky offspring of ‘QI’ and ‘Freakonomics’, ‘Geekspeak’ melds ingenious statistical analysis with edifying trivia to explain away some curious facts of life. Curiosity is our human birthright, and destiny. As a species we are to prone to think, ruminate, reflect, cogitate, deliberate and philosophise. We do all these things, and why? To explain away the world around us, to find solace in knowledge, to answer all those seeming unanswerables: why are we here? Is there a God? Is there life after death? How many slaves on treadmills does it take to power my kettle? Yes, forget the Bible, ‘Geekspeak’ is the new oracle for 21st century living. Graham Tattersall, a confirmed and superior geek, has rescued maths from the prison of the classroom, imbued it with fresh new life, and put it to use in novel and unexpected ways. His ingenious, deceptively simple formula melds statistical analysis with personal experience and enlightening trivia to explain away some curious and oft-pondered mysteries of the world: how big is your vocabulary, how heavy is your house, do the dead outnumber the living, how powerful is a fly, how fast is a fart. With its recipe of sophisticated mathematical techniques, witty anecdotes and startling amount of learning, ‘Geekspeak’ is an essential tool for impressing friends, sounding intelligent and better understanding the fascinating world in which we live. Maths has a new champion, and the Geeks a new King. Reviews ‘It will give you the means of finding out all sorts of information that you don't actually need to know. Curiously, I found it all quite interesting. Does that mean that I am a geek?’ Church Review About the author Dr Graham Tattersall is a freelance engineer working on projects as diverse as computer aided shoe fitting, fault analysis systems for trains, and enhancement of ultrasound images. He enjoys building houses, boats and working on engines, and lives in Suffolk with his (long suffering) wife.

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Geekspeak – Graham Tattersall

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How a Minimalist Lifestyle Can Add to Your Green Efforts

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You may have seen the term “minimalism” being thrown around a lot lately, especially in the eco-friendly sphere. As more and more people have adopted minimalist lifestyles, the concept has begun to slowly creep to the forefront of our collective consciousness. But what exactly is minimalism? To be honest, it can be a little hard to pinpoint.

Minimalism means different things to different people — it’s unique to the person living it. The truth is, there’s no “one size fits all” to this approach. However, one thing that can be agreed upon is that living as a minimalist is far more earth-friendly than how the majority of Americans are currently getting by. Let’s take a closer look:

What Is Minimalism?

Ranging from apartment-dwelling urbanites to country homesteaders, minimalists come from vast walks of life. They might be single or have a large family, have a house full of treasured items or live out of a backpack. The common ground lies in the opposition to the American ideal of working more to make more, and spending more to have more.

The true essence of minimalism is determining what provides you the most value in life and removing everything that is simply excess. It’s a very intentional way of living that gives rise to positive changes in almost all aspects of life. Being a minimalist means choosing to live your life with great purpose.

Curbing the Consumer Mind-Set

Society’s greatest lie is that a good life is based on the accumulation and possession of as many material items as possible. Massive houses, expensive cars, grand yachts, glittering diamonds — you know, the Instagram-worthy, Kardashian-inspired lifestyle. When we believe that more is better, we fall prey to the notion that money can buy happiness. That’s where minimalism comes in. Minimalism frees us from the all-consuming desire to possess. It sidesteps consumerism and compels us to seek happiness in experiences and relationships. It encourages us to actually live a life instead of buying one.

Now, all this isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with owning material possessions. It’s more about throwing off the meaning we attribute to said possessions. To put it more plainly, acquiring more stuff shouldn’t come before our health, relationships or personal growth. If owning a house or a car is important to you, that’s perfectly fine. Minimalism is merely a method that supports you in making these decisions more thoughtfully.

When it comes to your possessions, adopting a minimalist lifestyle means being very intentional about what you own and not being distracted by material belongings. While you may want to start your minimalist journey by getting rid of a bunch of stuff, the focus of minimalism shouldn’t be on what you are throwing out, it should instead be on the benefit of removing what doesn’t bring value to your life. Though minimalism sounds like it’s all about having less, there’s actually a lot of “more” that comes along with it. You’ll have more time, more space, more peace and more freedom.

Minimalism Is Eco-Friendly

The basic tenets of minimalism are surprisingly in tune with the eco-friendly way of living. For instance, by making a conscious choice to only purchase what is absolutely needed, you’ll naturally consume less. The less gas, plastic and nonrecyclable materials you use on a regular basis, the fewer nonrenewable resources are used up in their production. Reuse allows you to take this even further, say by borrowing a book from the library instead of buying a new one.

Minimalism makes you more aware of how much waste you generate. Buying less means wasting less; the fewer purchases you make, the fewer boxes, bags and packing materials end up dumped in landfills. What’s more, when you produce less waste, sorting through it for recycling and composting purposes is far easier and more efficient.

Minimalism is helpful in overcoming perceived obsolescence. Perceived obsolescence is when an object is completely functional but is no longer perceived to be stylish or appropriate. It’s rendered obsolete by perception, rather than by function. Minimalism encourages you to purchase goods designed to last for a long period of time, and use them for their entire life span.

Though eighty-sixing excess possessions is a big part of minimalism, the concept goes far beyond what you own. Minimalism should be practiced in all areas of your life — determine what you value most and remove what stands in the way. Apply this to how you spend your time, who you have relationships with, what you eat and so on.

Minimalism, like so many things in life, comes in many forms — it’s a flexible concept. You can choose to adopt the aspects of minimalism that appeal to you most and adapt others to fit your lifestyle. And since it all depends on what adds value to your life in the moment, it’s bound to change over time. After all, what’s meaningful to you in your 20s is not always the same as what’s meaningful to you in your 50s. Just remember, the true aim of minimalism isn’t to deprive yourself of anything, it’s to focus on the things that bring you the most value, cultivate your relationships and live the best life you can.

To learn more about embracing minimalism, check out these fantastic minimalist blogs.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Seeing Further – Bill Bryson

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Seeing Further – Bill Bryson

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How Going Zero Waste Made Me a Better Person

One year ago, my husband and I sat down at the dinner table with coffee in hand?to chat about the possibility of pursuing zero waste in our home. I had recently read an article on?’living your values’?by?the lovely Lauren Singer, and felt extremely convicted to better manage my own environmental impact?and carbon footprint.

My life has never been the same since.

If there is one thing that going zero waste over this past year has taught me, it is that most issues of sustainable living?can be solved by pursuing a daily posture of mindfulness.?What do I mean by that? To me, mindfulness, or living consciously, means recognizing that every action I?take?large or small?has a direct impact on the health of the planet and our global community as a whole.

In?The Art of Power, Thich Nhat Hanh explains:

Everything is related to everything else. Your well-being and the well-being of your family are essential elements in bringing about the well-being of your business or of any organization where you work. Finding ways to protect yourself and promote your own well-being is the most basic investment you can make. This will have an impact on your family and work environment, but first of all it will result in an improvement in the quality of your own life.

In other words,?intentionally stepping out of my?natural, autopilot-like way?brings about goodness?in both my own life?and that of my?community. This is the very root of mindful?living.

What Daily Mindfulness Looks Like for a Zero Waster

As every zero waster will tell you, going zero waste is not easy.?Every day, I make the conscious choice to go against the grain, defy cultural norms and accept inconveniences for the sake of the greater good.

For example, today I:

Brought a (spotless) mason jar to our local juice bar and asked them to fill it in place of a much more convenient styrofoam cup.
Turned down the opportunity to enjoy?free lunch at work because?doing so would have meant tossing a pile of trash, when I had a perfectly suitable lunch already waiting for me at home.
Asked?for dairy-free milk in my coffee because going vegan makes me feel good in more ways than one.

These small, daily?decisions may seem inconsequential, but over a lifetime their impact adds up. Had I chosen to go through my day on autopilot, I likely would have tossed the styrofoam cup, taken every freebie thrown at me, at the expense of the planet and left Starbucks with a stomachache and?a side of guilt. That’s no way to live!

So, I ask you this: What conveniences are you willing to sacrifice for the sake of the greater good? What changes can you make in your own life that will put you on the path toward contentment and happiness? What can you do to live a more mindful, conscious life?

Putting it into Practice

Moving yourself toward a fuller state of mindfulness is not something that happens overnight.?It will require a conscious effort that involves education, meditation and reflection. Ready to pursue more conscious living? These tips will help you get started!

1. Question everything.

The easiest way to step out of autopilot mode is to confront everything in your life with a critical eye. Do you really need that plastic straw to enjoy your drink? Would you be better off walking a few blocks to the grocery story, rather than driving your car? Question your choices and start making more intentional ones.

2. Educate yourself.

It’s hard to make a good decision when you aren’t yet equipped with the facts. These documentaries and books are a great place to start. Curious about transitioning to a plant-based diet? Do your research, then make the choice based on what you’ve learned. Want to experience?a stronger reaction to issues of waste? Look into?the detriments of using and throwing away plastics. You’ll never be the same!

3.?Start meditating.

When you wake in the morning, meditate on powerful ideas?like love, respect, empathy and interconnectedness. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes (or light a candle if you need a focal point to maintain focus) and consider how you fit into the big picture.?To get the most out of your?meditation, set clear, specific intentions?or try one of these exercises.

4. Equip yourself.

It’s so much easier to make good, conscious decisions when you have a sustainable alternative in front of you. Carry a?travel mug with you in your bag so that when the opportunity arises you can use it in place of a disposable cup. Equip yourself with the tools you need to be successful and you will be.

5. Practice empathy.

Cultivating your ability to understand (and subsequently feel) the feelings of another is an important step toward living your life more consciously. What do you think the people who live in the shadow of our landfills are experiencing? What about those who drink water contaminated by industrial?runoff driven by human consumption? Asking questions?like these will help you to greater identify with those outside your personal experience and help you form an emotional attachment to issues of sustainability.

How do you practice mindfulness and conscious living in your daily life? Do you have any tips for this community? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Related:
10 Tips for Creating a Zero Waste Home
How to Host a Zero Waste Dinner Party
10 Ways to Start Living Zero Waste

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How Going Zero Waste Made Me a Better Person

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Damage From Hurricane Irma Can Be Seen From Space

Caribbean islands that were once lush and green now appear sickly and brown

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Damage From Hurricane Irma Can Be Seen From Space

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Why Everyone Went on a Wild Goose Chase Looking For The Planet Vulcan

The idea of a ninth planet in the Solar System would resolve a mathematical conundrum about Mercury–only problem is, it wasn’t there

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Why Everyone Went on a Wild Goose Chase Looking For The Planet Vulcan

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The Hacking of the American Mind – Robert H. Lustig

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The Hacking of the American Mind

The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains

Robert H. Lustig

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $13.99

Expected Publish Date: September 12, 2017

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


"Explores how industry has manipulated our most deep-seated survival instincts." —David Perlmutter, MD, Author, #1 New York Times bestseller,  Grain Brain  and  Brain Maker The New York Times –bestselling author of Fat Chance reveals the corporate scheme to sell pleasure, driving the international epidemic of addiction, depression, and chronic disease.   While researching the toxic and addictive properties of sugar for his New York Times bestseller Fat Chance , Robert Lustig made an alarming discovery—our pursuit of happiness is being subverted by a culture of addiction and depression from which we may never recover.             Dopamine is the “reward” neurotransmitter that tells our brains we want more; yet every substance or behavior that releases dopamine in the extreme leads to addiction. Serotonin is the “contentment” neurotransmitter that tells our brains we don’t need any more; yet its deficiency leads to depression. Ideally, both are in optimal supply. Yet dopamine evolved to overwhelm serotonin—because our ancestors were more likely to survive if they were constantly motivated—with the result that constant desire can chemically destroy our ability to feel happiness, while sending us down the slippery slope to addiction. In the last forty years, government legislation and subsidies have promoted ever-available temptation (sugar, drugs, social media, porn) combined with constant stress (work, home, money, Internet), with the end result of an unprecedented epidemic of addiction, anxiety, depression, and chronic disease. And with the advent of neuromarketing, corporate America has successfully imprisoned us in an endless loop of desire and consumption from which there is no obvious escape.             With his customary wit and incisiveness, Lustig not only reveals the science that drives these states of mind, he points his finger directly at the corporations that helped create this mess, and the government actors who facilitated it, and he offers solutions we can all use in the pursuit of happiness, even in the face of overwhelming opposition. Always fearless and provocative, Lustig marshals a call to action, with seminal implications for our health, our well-being, and our culture.

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The Hacking of the American Mind – Robert H. Lustig

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NASA Captures Strongest Solar Flare in a Decade

This morning, the sun emitted two X-class flares, disrupting GPS and radio signals

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NASA Captures Strongest Solar Flare in a Decade

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That’s Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion – Rachel Herz PhD PhD

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That’s Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion

Rachel Herz PhD PhD

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: January 23, 2012

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W. W. Norton


"A lively look at all things revolting." —New York Times Book Review Why do we watch horror movies? What is the best way to persuade someone to quit smoking? And what on earth is the appeal of competitive eating? In this lively, colorful book, Rachel Herz answers these questions and more, shedding light on an incredible range of human traits—from food preferences and sexual attraction to moral codes and political ideology—by examining them through the lens of a fascinating subject: disgust. Combining lucid scientific explanations and fascinating research with a healthy dose of humor, That’s Disgusting illuminates issues that are central to our lives: love, hate, fear, empathy, prejudice, humor, and happiness.

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That’s Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion – Rachel Herz PhD PhD

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