USE YOUR CONSUMER VOTE
Every day, U.S. citizens make a host of purchasing decisions. What we buy - and do not buy - can have far reaching environmental consequences. Ecoshopping is a way of choosing products that emphasize reducing waste and pollution.
Average Americans throw their weight out in packaging every thirty to forty days, and one out of every ten dollars spent at the market pays for packaging. The waste created when we discard the unused portion of products or their packaging is one thing to consider. Also important, however, are the raw materials, toxic pollution, and waste involved in making and advertising products, as well as the fossil feuls used to ship them to market.
Casting your consumer vote through ecoshopping can make a real difference in achieving a "greener" marketplace. This is enhanced by phoning or writing to store managers and manufacturers to let them know what you buy- and don't buy- because of environmental concerns.
Reduction: Green consumers use less
The less you buy, the less trash and pollution you create, and the fewer resources you destroy. Carefully considering what you need - and do not need - is a great way to help the environment and save money.
There are many ways to avoid over-consuming:
Re-use: It's not waste until it's wasted
Single-use, throw-away items are promoted as being "quick and convenient," but the waste and pollution they create have long-term negative environmental consequences.
Think carefully about the products you use, buy and discard and consider the following tips:
Recycling: Closing the loop is key
Recycling means taking a product and re-manufacturing it into something that can be use again. Recycling not only reduces garbage, it saves on raw materials and energy in manufacturing. While there is some pollution in the recycling process, it is not as extensive as the pollution and waste that come from creating a new product from virgin materials.
Many people in the U.S. have latched onto recycling as a "cure all" for our environmental woes. Recycling and buying recycled products make good environmental sense, but it is important to consider the following:
Warning: Products can be hazardous to your health
Hazardous consumer goods pose threats to human and environmental health when they are manufactured, used and discarded. Oven and drain cleaners, for example, contain caustic chemicals that can cause serious burns. Polishes, paints and thinners contain solvents whose vapors can cause liver, kidney and nerve damage, birth defects and cancer. Insect and pest sprays are all poisonous. When these products are landfilled or incinerated, they contaminate our water and air.
To make sure you are not polluting the environment or endangering your family's health with household products:
Defining "Green" Terms
It is hard to walk down a grocery store aisle without seeing products claiming to be "recyclable," "biodegradable" or simply "environmentally friendly." Because the only federal laws overseeing use of environmental marketing claims are based on voluntary compliance, there are no guarantees that products are really as "green" as their claims indicate. Below are a listo of terms, and some things to consider as you evaluate potential purchases.
Look for detailed, concrete information on environmental claims, and be wary of general statements. Some states have laws on "green" labeling that are stricter than federal regulations.
Call your state Attorney General with labeling problems or questions. Consumers can also register complaints about marketing claims to: The National Advertising Division of the Council for Better Business Bureaus, 4200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 800, Arlington VA 22203.
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