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Every problem, the business gurus say, should be viewed instead as an opportunity. Now that the economic and climatic consequences of our profligate Western lifestyles are regularly held up to adverse scrutiny, as they have been recently by the Stern report commissioned by the Treasury in the UK, a new group — eco-auditors — becomes available to advise us.

Through eco-auditing we can learn to become environmentally responsible in our daily lives by reducing our gas, electricity and water use, by recycling more, and shopping responsibly — it’s like having a personal trainer for our homes.

The job and the term evolved out of European Union and international initiatives of the 1990s (the related term environmental auditor was used in an ISO standard dated 1996). Eco-auditor was discussed as a case of widening EU professionalisation in an article dated 2000 in the journal European Sociological Review, but until very recently the term has been unfamiliar outside the EU administration.

A new deal just struck with the National Federation of Women’s Institutes to provide as many of its 215,000 members who want it with detailed eco-auditing advice, funded by a government grant, will increase demand still further.

The Observer, 5 Nov. 2006

Donnachadh McCarthy, author of Saving the Planet Without Costing the Earth and a home and business eco-auditor, is concerned about how much water is wasted.

The Independent, 27 Sept. 2006

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 18 Nov. 2006

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

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Last modified: 18 November 2006.