Wednesday, June 29, 2005

my favorite subject--shopping!

We've all heard that we can "vote with your dollar," so what would it take to make greener choices? Knowing some venue would be the first step. Here are some resources for you to get you started:

  • The National Green pages, the nations only directory of screened and approved green businesses. They have products from accessories to wine. "Shop without the sweatshops."
  • The Fair Trade Federation certifies that its members practice fair trade. They have an extensive list of members, many with online storefronts.
  • The International Fair Trade Association also accredits its members. Here's the link for stores in North America.
  • The Green Guide considers "the underlying cost: the social, environmental and health implications of its manufacture, distribution, use and disposal." They cover air conditioners to wood furniture.
  • Metaefficient explains: "We provide a guide to effective heating, cooling, electricity, drinking water production, and other essential topics. We look across cultures and see what people have done throughout history to fulfill their basic needs."
  • Green Seal "is an independent, non-profit organization that strives to achieve a healthier and cleaner environment by identifying and promoting products and services that cause less toxic pollution and waste, conserve resources and habitats, and minimize global warming and ozone depletion." Their product reports are here.
  • For stuff made with plants (soaps, aromatherapy, candles) Green Products Alliance has an extensive page of links.
  • GreenPeople offers organic food, pet supplies, baby products, beauty products, home improvement, hemp, organic cotton, health products, recycled products.
And the list goes on. Do a google with the word "green" in it and you'll get a plethora of hits.

For a bit of rhetorical criticism, check out Joel Makower's post on the "buyosphere". He links to several articles from the Journal of Industrial Ecology. One is a review of I Want That! How We All Became Shoppers, by Thomas Hine. He includes an excerpt:

For better or worse, we live in a commercial world and consumer society. You can see it at work in the cacophony of advertisements and commercial messages that intrude in our daily lives, in the companies and webs of commerce whose existence depends on our endless appetite for more, and in the political leaders who work to promote unsustainable levels of economic growth, often at the expense of ecological and human needs. You can see it at work in our culture of debt and our need for keeping up with the Joneses. Yet the environmental impacts of our consumption are virtually hidden. Most of us do not see firsthand the natural resources extracted from farms, forests, rangelands, oceans, rivers, and mines that go into what the average American consumes each day. . . .

And finally, for a bit of anti-propaganda, check out Adbusters spoof ads.

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