Desert Island Disks Interview

John Elkington and I joined forces in 1986, setting up a company called SustainAbility and subsequently writing The Green Consumer Guide, which went on to sell over one million copies worldwide.

Published in the Autumn of 1988, the book shot to the top of the best-seller list and stayed in the top ten UK non-fiction titles for about a year.  Overseas editions were published in over 20 countries including Canada, Australia, USA and many European and Scandinavian countries.

The success of The Green Consumer Guide led us to write other books in the same vein. A year later, in 1989, our Green Consumer’s Supermarket Shopping Guide, was published. It was very exciting to discover that in less than a year, most of the supermarkets moved from complete ignorance on environmental issues to being much better informed, as they’d appointed environmental managers. Our 99 page questionnaire, was used as a bible on what they could or should be doing.

Next was the Young Green Consumer Guide, published along side our Greenest School Competition, which encouraged school children to carry out an environmental audit of their school. The book was widely published overseas.

We should have called it ‘The Green Holiday Guide’, because people were confused by the title of our next book ‘Holidays that Don’t Cost the Earth’.  Also co-authored with John Elkington, this book set out to challenge the tourism industry.  We wanted to show people how to enjoy their holiday, without adding to the worst effects of tourism – sewage pollution in the Mediterranean, alpine damage on the ski slopes and litter mountains in the Himalayas.

The first book I co-authored with John Elkington was Green Pages – The Business of Saving the World. Tom Burke, was the third author.  The book was republished in its original form in 2017.


Julia Hailes – 2020