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Want to shop green? Buy less.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

We are all used to coming up with solutions to problems. And new business opportunities are so often the solution for crisis situations here in America. But, buying green is not always the solution for the environmental crisis this planet is facing. Buying less is.

I get it. I'm a girl, you know. While I am not a shopaholic by any means, there are certain things I cannot live without. But then, there are many I can even though it looks like I cannot.

According to Sierra Club:


"The average American buys 53 times as many products as someone in China and one American's consumption of resources is equal valent to that of 35 Indians. Over a lifetime, the typical American will create 13 times as much environmental damage as the average Brazilian."


So, the solution is buying less, not just buying green even though it's a new fashion. Switching brands and paying more will not resolve the climate catastrophe we are facing.

A great Washington Post article states that:


"The culture of obsolescence has become so deeply ingrained that it's practically reflexive. Holey sweaters get pitched, not mended. Laptops and cell phones get slimmer and shinier and smaller. We trade up every six months, and to make up for that, we buy and buy and hope we're buying the right other things, though sometimes we're not sure: When the Hartman Group, a market research firm, asked a group of devout green consumers what the USDA "organic" seal meant when placed on a product, 43 percent did not know. (The seal means that the product is at least 95 percent organic -- no pesticides, no synthetic hormones, no sewage sludge, no irradiation, no cloning.)


Which is why, when wannabe environmentalists try to change purchasing habits without also altering their consumer mind-set, something gets lost in translation."


Buying green is a novel idea. In many cases it's a better alternative because you are exposing yourself and your family to fewer toxic chemicals. Organic food is definitely a good choice and EWG has been a strong advocate of it. However, the best way to help the planet is to buy less and to reuse more. So, when you go out shopping this spring, check out those consignment stores in your neighborhood, you might be able to find pretty cool clothes there too. And if you feel that you still have the money left in your "green" budget, think of donating to research and advocacy environmental organizations that are advocating for change of environmental laws on state and national level.

Photo by nadi0