Buying Green

Maintaining a green lifestyle is easier than you think. All you need to do is start looking at what you are buying. When making your decisions at the check out counter, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Below are just a few helpful tips to help you buy greener products. 

Fair Trade

So what is Fair Trade all about?  Fair Trade practices are designed not just to promote profit, but also to encourage better standards for an improved quality of life, specifically in developing countries.  Fair trade practices address issues of wages, the environment, respect for existing cultures, and corporate accountability.

Fair trade practices also promote environmental regulations.  In many developing nations, environmental regulations are not as stringent as they are in the United States or Europe.  This fact impacts cost of production, making it less expensive, but in the process it can do serious damage to the environment of the developing nation.  Fair trade supporters want foreign governments to promote the same environmental standards in the developing world as they do in their own countries.

So look for the Fair Trade sign when making your purchase at the counter next time.

In the Fridge

There are a lot of buzz words out there now that can trick even the savviest foodie out there. You can help the environment while still maintaining a stocked fridge by taking a look at what you are eating. Start by simply being conscious about where you buy your foods and how you cook your meals. Green cooking is easy and sustainable.

Farm-Fresh, Organic, and Local

Farmers markets play to the gourmet in all of us, offering a delicious, one-on-one connection to fresh-picked produce, bakery goods hot out of the oven, artisanal olive oils and meat cut to order. As a bonus, they reduce long-distance shipping of groceries and the associated environmental costs. Problem is that it's not always easy to determine what's actually being sold at the farmer's market. Is it from a local farm? Organically grown? Both? Or neither?

Navigating your local market is easy and fun. Just follow the simple mantra of stop, look and listen. Soon you'll be on your way to supporting the growers and producers of your choice. Take your time in the market. Ask questions and listen to the vendors. Sometimes a visit to the local supermarket is inevitable. However, the same rules apply here as well. Look at the foods you are buying, check out the ingredients, and the brands. Buy products that boast a organic or hormone free label.

Taking a look in Your Closet

Organic cotton, hemp, recycled fibers, sustainable style. No longer are these the signatures of hippy style. These words are fast becoming the lingo in fashion design studios around the world.

Over the last few years, designers have seriously upped the eco-style ante with fashion-driven, wearable pieces that give consumers a mission: an improved sense of style and a clear conscience.  No doubt, considering that 55 million pounds of pesticides are sprayed on non-organic cotton each year alone, or that a cotton T-shirt blended with polyester can release approximately one quarter of its weight in air pollutants and 10 times its weight in carbon dioxide.

Options abound now more than ever with entire clothing and accessory lines devoted to sustainable production practices. Consumers with a penchant for green clothing can also support the cause by pointing their dollars at clothing lines that take the earth into consideration. Look for organic cottons, natural materials like hemp, recycled clothing, and companies that give back to the earth in a variety of ways.

Personal Care Alternatives

Look for natural ingredients in both your personal care items. There are many options available to help you go 100% natural and organic. By selecting natural options for your skin and body care regimens, your skin and the environment will absorb less of the harsh ingredients that cause damage over time with regular use.

As you research organic personal care options, be aware that no FDA regulations govern the natural or organic options for hair care and other personal items.  This means that some products will advertise as natural and organic, though they still contain dangerous chemicals. If you want to know beyond a shadow of a doubt whether or not your products are safe, check to see that they are listed on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep report, an online cosmetic safety index searchable by product, ingredient, or company.