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GREEN COMPANIES CONNECT
WITH THE ENVIRONMENTAL
AND SOCIAL VALUES

It seems as if more and more people are buying and living “green” today. Green has become a lifestyle supported by many politicians, consumer organizations and green political parties (UK, Germany, Finland, Canada, etc.) Politicians like Vice President Gore (“An Inconvenient Truth”), and organizations like Green People, the UK’s Green Choices and Green America are all about caring for our environment. Many celebrities are also declaring greener lifestyles including Julia Roberts, Sheryl Crow, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ed Begley Jr. It appears protecting the environment has become a “green bandwagon” that is rapidly sweeping through the US and the world.

Following the growing product demands of the green movement, there has been rapid growth in the number of green companies. Using pesticide-free organic agriculture, green (organic) companies produce a variety of products including organic food, bedding, furniture and clothing. Additionally many companies design products that are not always organic, but are still considered green businesses. These companies support the environment by diminishing our energy demands and carbon consumption. In general they help reduce our “carbon footprint” (consumption of carbon based natural resources).

For example, many appliance and climate control manufacturers produce products that consume less energy (“Energy Star”) and reduce pollution. There are green companies that provide us with alternative energy systems such as wind, geothermal, and especially solar power. The huge solar industry has created many products that generate heat or electricity from our planet’s “Energy Star”, the sun. Their products range from solar batteries enabling us to recharge our ipods to solar panels that heat and cool our homes and provide electricity for our space program. In addition, there are “green” companies that produce products using recycled materials such as shoes, tires, paving, toys, shopping bags and paper products. They also reduce our “carbon footprint”.

Moving beyond all the environmental points noted above, a new dawn has arrived for the green movement! Driven by the enormous power of the world media and the internet, the “green bandwagon” has reached its final destination. The definition of green has been expanded to include social values and commitment to our “fellow man”. The new green movement or lifestyle has prompted several green companies to connect with social justice (such as elimination of “sweatshops”). Now it’s not just the environment. We’ve added ethical considerations, social responsibility, charitable giving, and compassion for the Earth and others in need.

Despite the clamor for positive social values and passion for a better life for everyone, green is still rooted with typical consumers. Without their sincere concern and continuing commitment to keeping our environment healthy and clean, the new green ethical considerations wouldn’t have evolved. Consumers continue to buy a wide range of products that are available in eco-friendly alternatives including toys, food products and clothing.

The multibillion dollar clothing industry continues to be one of the green pioneers. They have produced eco-fashion styles made from organic agriculture such as cotton, hemp, silk and bamboo. They are committed to producing safe and healthy products for “people and planet”. Many of these apparel companies have established positive social values in addition to protecting the environment. They are also committed to charitable giving through community involvement and donating time and dollars to worthy causes. Now they are describing their apparel as “ethical fashion” or “conscientious clothing”.

The Baltimore Sun, in its Sunday Supplement “Green: Your Lifestyle. Our World” (April 20, 2008), included a number of articles on companies producing green products. Bluehouse, a Baltimore retailer, provides some good examples of organic and recycled products along with the new social/ethical approach noted above. They sell organic sheets, towels, rugs, “eco-friendly” furniture and provide an organic café for their customers. They also sell dog toys made from recycled bottles and children’s toys made from recycled sweaters. Most noteworthy is their social/ethical approach of “earth consciousness”. According to one of the store buyers, “Our whole intention is to leave no carbon footprints. We do this by selling products using sustainable resources such as bamboo flooring, and bamboo towels….”

As a final illustration of green ethical responsibility and a warning about the safety of the organic label, consider the following point. Buying organic apparel from green companies solely based on the fact that cotton, bamboo, hemp or silk fabrics are organically grown is not sufficient. The consumer needs to insure that the dyes used to create color, print or symbols on organic apparel are non-toxic or “low impact”. Otherwise, pollution of our air, water or soil is a likely consequence. In such cases these so called green companies have not demonstrated ethical values or any compassion for our environment or our “fellow man”. Although more expensive, many companies take the ethical approach. They use eco- friendly or low impact dyes on their apparel, producing a socially responsible organic product to protect you and our planet.

“This is a deeply spiritual issue. Do we want to spend more time trying to care for our fellow man or do we want to just pursue more virtual reality? That’s the issue before us and it’s being played out in the world of the environment.” – Ed Begley, Jr.

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