Green Tip – Shop Well
EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM. WE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.
GREEN TIP: Make your purchasing decisions based on informed choices. Purchase products, whenever possible, that are local and in-season, organic, made from sustainable materials, are fairly traded and have minimal packaging.
I once read a fabulous article by Laura Weldon entitled Your Beliefs Create the Marketplace. In the article she describes a growing trend of ethical consumers who make well-informed choices when “putting their money where their values are.”
If you answer yes to any of the following, the “chances are good that you are one of those consumers. Do you prefer to dine on organic foods? Do you choose sweatshop-free clothing? Do you search out sustainable building supplies? Those choices are probably based on your awareness of today’s health, environmental and justice issues. You care enough to make purchases consistent with your values.
“This growing awareness has sparked a powerful consumer market. Approximately 25 percent of adult Americans are considered to be part of this group. Their purchasing decisions are orienting businesses toward more positive social, environmental and humane practices.”
Ms. Weldon goes on to list the verifiable impact consumer choices are having:
- According to the EPA, if every home in America replaced just one standard light bulb with an Energy Star compact florescent light bulb, this alone would save enough energy to light three million homes for a year ($600 million annual energy costs) and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 800,000 cars from the road.
- International products certified as Fair Trade (guaranteeing a non-exploitative relationship between buyer and seller) support the rights of workers in small-scale enterprises. Transfair USA reports that villages benefiting from such income are opening craft cooperatives and health centers. In one area alone, 1,600 acres where poppies and coca once grew for illicit drug trade are now devoted to growing organic coffee.
- Research published by the National Resources Defense Council indicates that 423,900 trees could be saved if every household in the U.S. replaced just one 500-sheet roll of toilet paper with one made of all recycled fibers.
- Purchasing local, in-season produce conserves petroleum. The Organic Consumers Association reports that processed foods travel an average of 3,600 miles in the journey from farm to table. A meal made of locally produced ingredients uses four to 17 times less petroleum than one from typical supermarket products due to transportation requirements.
- Check the Eat Well Guide to find organic and sustainable food in your area.
In an economy where we are trying to have our dollars stretch as far as possible, let’s make sure our purchases reflect our values. Let’s send a message to big business. Just because we don’t have a lot of disposable income we still demand high quality, healthy, sustainable products.
As Ms. Weldon aptly writes, “Each conscious choice, each locally grown meal put on the table and every handcrafted chair purchased, makes a world of difference.”
My Green Side’s web pick of the week:
Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. Fair Trade USA audits and certifies transactions between U.S. companies and their international suppliers to guarantee that the farmers and workers producing Fair Trade Certified goods are paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment and receive community development funds to empower and uplift their communities. Fair Trade USA educates consumers, brings new manufacturers and retailers into the Fair Trade system, and provides farmers with tools, training and resources to thrive as international business people.
Fair Trade Certified means:
- Fair Prices
- No GMOs
- No Hazardous Chemicals
- Environmental standards are built in to the certification
- No Child Labor