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A Life Stripped Bare: My Year Trying To Live Ethically [Paperback]

Leo Hickman
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

2 Jan 2006
How often in life does convenience triumph over 'doing the right thing? And what is 'ethical living' anyway? When it comes down to it, most people fight shy of giving up their cars, or their toxic household products, their cheap washing machines, or dodgy, unethical bank accounts in order to make the world a better place. So Leo Hickman, resident consumer expert of the Guardian, decided to give it a try. Over the course of a year, he and his family set out to discover whether it was possible to live a 'normal life' - job, mortgage, kids, holidays - while at the same time making each daily choice or decision an 'ethical' one - for the family, their neighbours and the environment. This the story of that year, is a record of an extraordinary transformation. Amid the pitfalls and confusion, Leo's account is funny, inspirational and a mine of information for the curious.

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A Life Stripped Bare: My Year Trying To Live Ethically + Shades Of Green: A (mostly) practical A-Z for the reluctant environmentalist
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Eden Project Books; New Ed edition (2 Jan 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903919614
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903919613
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 12.9 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 424,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Not a preachy guide but the diary of a struggle - through the myriad uses of bicarbonate of soda; instructions for assembling a wormery and a visit from three ethical auditors... There are plenty of facts and a selection of helpful letters - like the inspiring one from a woman who crochets her own dishcloths..." (Carol McDaid Observer)

"The tone is just right for this book's target market...there is much that is inspiring here..." (Tom Boncza-Tomaszewski The Independent on Sunday)

"Refreshing and funny, this book overflows with ideas for a more sustainable everyday life" (Seb Boscher The Ecologist)

"A Life Stripped Bare is both funny and inspirational...Leo proves that living ethically isn't the preserve of the eco-warriors but of the typical man in the street. So take some action now!" (Jenny Lee Irish News)

"Very entertaining...full of useful new things to fret about." (Libby Purves Radio 4)

Book Description

Mass-market edition of the successful trade paperback; given a new look and including new material and Leo's DIY ethical audit for readers to try.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Educational and Amusing Guide to Living Green 28 May 2005
By A Customer
I'd enjoyed reading Leo Hickman's columns in the Guardian on his attempts to live a more ethical, environmentally-friendly life, and I was pleased to be able to read more about the changes he made to his life as a response to an"ethical audit".
There are plenty of books out there that will tell you how to live your life the environmental/green/ethical/sustainable way, but this book has a real advantage over all of them - it doesn't just tell you what to do, but shows the impact that the changes have on your life. Leo writes honestly and amusingly about the effect of using washable nappies, getting fruit and veg delivered by an organic box scheme, taking a holiday in Europe by train instead of plane, having a wormery, going for a week without TV or radio, and how it feels when the ethical auditors criticise almost every aspect of your life. It's also interesting to read some of the letters he received while writing the newspaper articles, and the effect they had on his ethical "journey".
The book also mentions how these things had an effect on his family, particularly the times his wife was less enthusiastic about the changes - I think I would have liked to find out a bit more about things from her point of view.
I've found myself considering many of the things he mentions in the book, especially "food miles" in supermarkets while buying fruit and veg, and the book has inspired me to try to make some changes to my lifestyle. A good read for anyone who wants to consider their life and their impact on the world around them.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive, amusing reading! 26 May 2005
By A Customer
For all would be environmentalists living in the city or suburbia this book is a must! Leo Hickman writes with generous and amusing style, slightly tongue in cheek at times giving the reader the sense that he does indeed have his feet firmly on the ground! With his wife Jane he tackles tough issues about how they and their daughter Esme live in a society where being ethical and environmentally conscious at all times is virtually impossible! I thought he was quite good anyway, not having a car and eating healthily,but after the arrival of their three auditors their lives are turned upside down after being bombarded with sometimes impossible-to-live-by ethical values! However many of the suggestions in his book are easy to put into practice and gives one the hope that even by doing a little, it makes a difference. It's thought-provoking and fun to read. I've been enjoying reading it and thinking about it all week!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable and suprisingly easy read! 7 Dec 2005
I have to admit I was already very interested in living a 'more sustainable life' before I read this book so I knew of quite a few of the issues highlighted very amusingly in this book. However my wife hadn't really taken any interest before I pursueded her to read this book and now she's really interested too, which is great for me! I think the reason the book had an effect on my wife, where my previous attempts had failed, was because it's written in a very readable and amusing style and doesn't put you under any pressure because Leo Hickman isn't saying you must do everything suggested, in fact he compromises all the time. It shows how to do your bit without having to change your life too much.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leo is my hero! 5 Jan 2006
The previous reviews have said all that needs to be said - but I was so taken by this book - and Leo - that I had to add my pennyworth too.
This is a brilliantly honest book which manages to be informative, heartwarming, practical and amusing all at the same time. I speak as a 'three planet woman' who has made small changes bit by bit over the years but who has now had a smack in the face and needs to do sooooooo much more.
Buy it (I would say borrow someone else's but you may find they are reluctant to part with it). Read it. Make an effort to decrease the impact of your lifestyle. Then help others not be so selfish!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and revealing 18 Oct 2008
Leo Hickman's year-long effort to steer his life down a more sustainable path was well documented in his Guardian columns, and makes for an excellent and entertaining full-length book. His all-round honesty and enthusiasm make a welcome change from the hectoring of most environmental/ethical writing, and the letters from readers that pepper the book are full of insights, encouragement and good sense. There is a lot to learn from in this book, and a lot to laugh at, too.

But the part I found the most eye-opening was Hickman's account of the trio of 'ethical auditors' who came to his house to interview and assess the family. These were truly horrible people, but horrible in revealingly different ways: the joyless anti-corporatist vegetarian who insisted that the family gave up meat and had no more children expressed entirely predictable, second-hand opinions, and was sour and self-righteous in a peculiarly British way, but the wealthy founder of the Planet Organic chain, who turned up expensively suited in a black cab, was not only astoundingly rude and arrogant, but made it clear from her attitude that 'ethical living' (with all its ostentatious trips to overpriced Farmers' Markets, etc) has its roots in status and class anxiety, rather than in any objective considerations for the health and wellbeing of the planet. There was, of course, a lot of ill-natured disagreement among the auditors, and much outright contradiction, as there always is when a group of people addicted to giving advice attempt to outbid one another.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Book to make you think - twice
Very important book to read. Every day there is mention of recycling, food waste, unethical practices, etc. He has been there, bought the T-shirt and has written this book. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Julie
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Service
The book arrived promptly (before I was expecting it)and was in perfect condition. It had been used before but you couldn't tell. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Isabel Rice
3.0 out of 5 stars MEASURABLE CHANGE
I found this book interesting.

It was a peek into the life of a middle class family struggling to change their consumer ways in the heart of London. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Joshua Pittman
5.0 out of 5 stars A Life Stripped Bare: My Year Trying To Live Ethically
Not only very interesting and educational but at times so funny I literally laughed out loud when reading it. It became one of my bookshelf-treasures.
Published 15 months ago by Zsofi Jaszberenyi
5.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful
A well written, comical, non-preaching book which makes you think about how you can change small things in your life and make a different, but also inspires you to do even more. Read more
Published 20 months ago by NJA
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy This Book!!
Hickman's writing style is a pleasure to read, and the subject matter is down right fascinating. I never really thought that I'd be interested to learn about what happens to the... Read more
Published on 29 July 2012 by Shelby Storey
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and challenging account of attempt to live ethically.
This is a fascinating read as the author opens up his entire lifestyle to thorough scrutiny by a team of 'ethical auditors'. Read more
Published on 22 July 2012 by Phat Rascal
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny & Informative
Excellent book. Easy to read, well written, funny and informative, a difficult book to put down. I have bought the follow up book in the hope it's just as entertaining.
Published on 15 Jun 2011 by PJ
4.0 out of 5 stars entertaining.....
but if you've lived the life for a while not so educational. Worth a quick read
Published on 28 Mar 2009 by karen bennett
5.0 out of 5 stars Is the Other Side of the Grass Greener
I read about this book somewhere recently and had to have a peek inside it at the bookshop, that was it I was hooked. Read more
Published on 12 Feb 2009 by Alessi Lover
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