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HOW TO SHOP GREEN

How do you sort out valid from bogus "green" product claims? Green Seals are one answer.

Does it really matter to shop with the environment in mind? "You bet it does," say Norman Dean,President of Green Seal. Green Seal is the national nonprofit environmental labeling organizationthat awards a "Green Seal of Approval" to products found to cause significantly less harm to theenvironment.

But when walking down the supermarket aisle, consumers are bombarded with competing"green" claims: Biodegradable! Earth Friendly! Recyclable! How do you know which claims tobelieve? How do you know which are significant?

Green Seal identifies products that are environmentally preferable. According to Dean, allconsumer goods have some impact on the environment. "And last year 13% of new products onthe market made "green" claims, because," say Dean, "marketers know that four out of fiveconsumers say they want to buy products that cause less harm to the environment.

It matters

Green Seal shows exactly how enormous consumer impact on the environment can be. Forexample:

If all tissue products met Green Seal's standards, each year we would divert more than a million tons of paper from landfills and incinerators; save the amount of energy generated annually by two average sized power plants; keep 71,000 tons of pollutants out of the air; save the amount of water used annually by the city of Boston; and ease the pressure to log environmentally sensitive areas by eliminating demand for 40 million trees. About 95% of American homes contribute to the annual 2.5 million ton usage of paper towels and napkins each year. If all paper towels and paper napkins met the requirements of the Green Seal standard, more than 1.7 million tons of wastepaper would be kept out of landfills each year. This amount of waste is equivalent to the annual capacity of 15 landfills.

If every American replaced one 100 watt incandescent bulb with a Green Seal-certified compact fluorescent light (CFL), we would save enough energy to displace the need for three new power plants. Even better, use of CFLs immediately cuts the air and water pollution and environmental damage associated with extraction and burning fossil fuels. Use of CFLs also help reduce acid rain, the risk of global warming and oil spills, and the production of nuclear and other toxic waste. Most showerheads use 3 to 5 gallons per minute (gpm), with some as high as 10 gpm. With a 2.5 gpm Green Seal-certified showerhead, a typical household could save 17,000 gallons of water per year - the amount of water you would drink in more than a century. And the $135 it costs to heat that extra shower water and the $70 in water and sewer expenses will go into your pocket instead of down the drain.

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San Diego Earth Times


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