Everyone Can Be A Green Consumer

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Tompkins Weekly May 30, 2011.  By Kate Richard.

As the Green Revolution gains momentum and more eco-friendly products become available, it’s increasingly harder to distinguish the real green products or services from ones that are just marketed as being green and really aren’t, a practice known as green-washing. Consumers are finding it difficult to know how to compare green products and services, and that can be even more confusing when figuring out how to rationalize paying a little extra for a greener offering.  And now that there are so many more sustainable options in every sector, it’s harder than ever to know how to make the right decisions.

So how does one decide when to buy green, go conventional, or maybe not buy anything at all? What if you don’t think you have the extra room in your budget for buying green in the first place? The answer is going to be a little different for everyone. Think about the major activities or areas of your life. These areas are where you can make the most impact, but what’s best for you may not be what’s best for others. For example, your neighbor’s decision to start composting may not work for you right now, but maybe you’ve been considering an Ithaca Carshare membership so you can avoid having to purchase another car. The important thing is not to overwhelm yourself, and to remember that even if you only do one thing, it’s much better than doing nothing.

Here’s the best thing about the new green economy- everyone has the ability to be a green consumer! You don’t need to know any complicated information and you don’t need lots of money. In fact, you don’t necessarily need any money at all. Everyone has a skill or talent that they could share that would help others become more sustainable. Maybe you are mechanically inclined, or can cook from scratch really well, or can build things, or can sew and make your own clothes or home goods. The everyday things you do without thinking about may actually be skills of great value to someone else.

We are lucky to live in a place where dedicated citizens are already working on providing more opportunities to share, barter, and be creative about the exchange of goods and services. Among these fantastic resources are Share Tompkins, the Ithaca Freeskool, and the local Yahoo! group called Ithaca Freecycle, all of which allow you to give and receive goods and services without money. We also have an enviable number of diverse retail stores dedicated to reuse in the area, and if you’ve never visited any of these places, make a point to go visit a few- you’ll be surprised! Check out the Finger Lakes ReUse Center & eCenter, The SewGreen Store, Mimi’s Attic, Mama Goose, Trader K’s, Significant Elements, and antique/vintage stores such as Blue Bird Antiques, Petrune, and FOUND.

So you don’t have to overhaul your lifestyle or change who you are to be a green consumer. It’s an inherent, intuitive capability that everyone has, and when you incorporate a little of what you already know into what you do, you have the ability to make a positive impact on your health, the health and prosperity of your community, and the overall well-being of our very unique planet.

To find or connect with local businesses, organizations, and entrepreneurs that are leading the way in the new green economy by pledging to conduct business according to the triple bottom line principle, where people, planet, & profit are equally important, visit the Sustainable Enterprise & Entrepreneur Network (SEEN) Member Directory at TheSEEN.org. For a more general Green Directory, visit GreenResourceHub.org/Directories.



Kate Richard is a Board Member of the Green Resource Hub of the Finger Lakes.

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