What Does it Mean to Buy Green?
Buying green is about supporting healthy choices for ourselves and our environment. This means accounting for the environmental impact of the production, transportation, use, and disposal of items you buy. What resources does the product use? How much energy goes into the life cycle of the product? What chemicals are emitted? Buying local food goes a long way, because California produce doesn’t have to travel as far as fruits and vegetables like bananas from Brazil or avocados from Chile. If shopping at the farmers’ market is inconvenient for you, choose locally grown food at the grocery store. Choosing products with less packaging also helps because all that packaging takes resources to produce and transport and, if it’s not recyclable, it will most likely end up in a landfill. Going a step further, you can choose items that use fewer resources to produce. Rather than using virgin materials, many products contain recycled content, harvested from our post-consumer waste. You could even buy some items secondhand.
Household cleaning products affect both our immediate home environment and the global environment. Conventional household products are effective against dirt, but how healthy are they themselves? Aerosol cans, bleach and cleaners, cleansers, drain cleaners, oven cleaners, polishes, and window cleaners are all classified as hazardous wastes and must be taken to a hazardous waste facility for disposal. Instead of conventional products, try all-natural ones, or try homemade alternatives to toxic household products. StopWaste.org has an extensive list of recipes you can try.
Energy Efficient Products
Purchasing energy-efficient products can be a bit of an investment, but it pays off in energy savings. The Energy Star label makes it easy for consumers to identify and purchase energy-efficient products that offer savings on energy bills without sacrificing performance, features, and comfort. Various organizations offer rebates and financing to homeowners looking to upgrade to energy-efficient appliances. You can replace your refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer, fans, air conditioner, water heater, computer, and other appliances with Energy Star-certified products, and immediately reduce your energy use and your home’s carbon footprint.
Fuel-efficient cars are also good buys. According to fueleconomy.gov, the difference between a car that gets 20 MPG and one that gets 30 MPG amounts to $968 per year (assuming 15,000 miles of driving annually and a fuel cost of $3.87). What a savings!
What Can You Do?
- Be aware of the resources and processes that go into producing items you buy
- Donate clothes and household goods you no longer need to charities and thrift stores, or put them on the free section of craigslist, instead of putting them in the garbage
- When shopping, choose products that are environmentally preferable and non-toxic