You may love your gold wedding band, but would you buy another knowing that it resulted in 20 tons of mine waste? Would you buy a bottle of water if you knew that eight out of 10 containers end up in a landfill or an incinerator and take 500 years to decompose?
These are some of the lessons of "Eco Trip: The Real Cost of Living," a new series running Tuesdays on the Sundance Channel. It's a compelling, often-disturbing look at how many of America's conveniences come at a price -- to our land, our water and ourselves. Hosted by David de Rothschild, the half-hour programs trace common items such as paper napkins, cellphones and cotton T-shirts from production to disposal.
I couldn't watch the episode on chocolate, but the shows I did preview were laced with facts and driven by interviews with scientists and ecologists -- a welcome relief in this day of "eco-experts" with dubious credentials. De Rothschild is a hunky and gregarious host, though his attempts at humor can feel awkward, given the serious subject matter. The shtick seems ill-timed, for example, when viewers are presented the toxic contents of a Monterey seabird that had died a "slow death" by ingesting plastic trash.