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Are You Falling for Green Consumerism?

It’s a wonderful time to decide to be more environmentally friendly in your buying decisions. There are many products available and the prices are getting better. But where people often fall short of their green goals is in really thinking about the environment.

Do you really need to make that purchase right now?

Buying green is a great way to feel good about what you’re buying. You’re buying products that were made in a manner that is less harmful to the environment. Maybe they’re even supporting other environmental causes. And you get new stuff!

The trouble is that many people still buy a ton of stuff they don’t need, while thinking about the green aspects of their purchase. If you’re buying bamboo sheets to replace your old ones, did you stop to think about whether or not your old sheets really needed replacing? Many people replace items that haven’t worn out yet just so that they can buy the more environmentally friendly item.

If you think about that, it makes little sense. You can do a bit better if you don’t just throw out the old item, but donate it to charity or give it to someone else who needs it, but excessive consumption is still a problem.

On the plus side, buying green means you’re creating demand, making it more interesting for companies to produce these items.

However, the biggest problem is excessive consumption, green or otherwise. A simpler lifestyle, once in which you use up fewer resources, is extremely important.

This is not an easy step to take. Most families need two cars, as both parents work outside the home. Carpooling is difficult at best for most people. Many areas have poor quality public transportation. Yet two incomes are needed to get by for most families.

Shopping green with no concern for how much you’re consuming is the easy way out. It’s an improvement, but a small one when compared to what you could achieve if you are ready to make the sacrifices and try to really make a difference.

What differences can you make?

When it comes time to replace something, an appliance, your sheets, your car, etc., do think about what the greenest option is. But don’t just do this casually. If your old washing machine still works, a more energy efficient one may be more environmentally friendly when it runs, but what about the disposal of the old one? What about the manufacture of the new one?

Think about how you can use less energy. Take a better look at public transportation. If you have kids, take a look at how long the walk to school really is. Maybe you don’t have to drive them there. Can you use a clothesline instead of a dryer in your community? Some do make this difficult. Unplug anything that doesn’t need to be plugged in all the time. Turn off computer monitors and even computers when not in use.

Every step towards people thinking more about the environment is significant, and so I can’t blame people for enjoying a bit of green consumerism. I can only hope it leads to more thought about what we as individuals and as a society can do.

Technorati Tags: green consumerism, environment, buying green, shopping

9 Responses to Are You Falling for Green Consumerism?

  1. You make some really good points. “Being green” can become a consumerist status symbol when we actually need to move to a post consumerist state where simple living and frugality is considered desirable! Maybe we need an advertising company to come up with a campaign to make simple living sexy 😉

  2. I agree. I am starting to make a lot of my own cleaning products, but I needed to use up what I had first. I also want to use that bottle full of Windex to put my vinegar based cleaner in. I know of people who threw out their old products and bought new plastic containers to store their home made cleaners in. That seemed rather wasteful to me.

  3. Great post. I am planning on touching on something on my blog that’s very similar in the next week. It does seem to be popular to have all these companies throwing the word green and organic around. Half the time they are casting a false light. Excessive consumerism is the number one problem in this country, hands down. Maybe there should be more campaigns to touch upon this problem as opposed to just changing a light bulb. As you know, I support the green movement 100% and actively participate in it, but as you stated, cutting back all around would be the best thing.

  4. You really do make some great points here. I hadn’t really thought about the impact of buying when you don’t need to, even if you are thinking green when you do.
    My brother and I recently started a project to help make the world a little more green. We talked with local land owners and got permission to plant trees on their land, and then we are having people sponsor the trees. We have found room for lots of trees already, we just need more people to sponsor them. Let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions on how to make this project even more green!

    Check out our website
    http://www.CarbonFootprintReducers.com

  5. That’s a great idea. One of the things that drives me utterly nuts about the place we’re renting is the complete lack of trees on the property. A good tree does so much to help reduce the amount of carbon you produce, especially on really hot summer days such as we have in my area.

  6. Hey, just realized you also do homewiththekids.com! I see we are on the same wavelength, now. In addition to my post on green consumerism, I also did a post on the three r’s and reducing consumption awhile back that echoes these same concerns.

    It’s so fabulous to see your thoughts spelled out like this. Living in suburban America these days I really need to hear other people’s words and feel that I’m not alone in my thoughts. I’m very keen these days on reading more by Bill McKibben, but even closer to the heart to hear it from a fellow mom.

    And you’ve hit the nail right on the head:

    “The biggest problem is excessive consumption, green or otherwise.”

    The more we stand up and make these kinds of observations and try our best to live by these values, the more we can inspire change in ourselves, our neighbors and our children! Thanks!