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Environmentalist Ernest Callenbach passes away

Environmentalist Ernest Callenbach passes away

THE death has taken place of Ernest Callenbach, the U.S. environmentalist who wrote a bestselling book which predicted a world in which recycling would be commonplace. He was 83.

Mr. Callenbach wrote Ecotopia in the early 1970s but was rejected by more than 20 publishers who believed that ecology was just a passing fad. The novel was set in a world in which everything was recycled, only electric cars were allowed and public transport was by magnetic-levitation trains. 

He wrote the novel after becoming concerned about what he saw as a wasteful consumer society.

In 1975, after being rejected by the publishing world, Mr. Callenbach raised money from friends to print the book himself. The initiative paid off with the first printing selling out very quickly.

Eventually the book was taken on by Bantam and became a bestseller which has been translated into a dozen languages. 

Mr. Callenbach always endeavoured to follow the lifestyle he had outlined in his novel — he mostly cycled to work, grew his own vegetables and bought his clothes from second hand shops.

He wrote several other books — Living Poor With Style and Living Cheaply With Style — which encouraged people to embrace thrift and eco-friendly lifestyles. 

He passed away in Berkeley, California.

To view an interview recorded several years ago in which Ernest Callenbach discusses his book Ecotopia, click here.


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