Friday, November 23, 2012

Consumer Spending for a Greener World

It should be obvious that we cannot sustain our current trajectory of consumption. We simply cannot afford traditional consumerism. By putting their spending power to work on less environmentally harmful products and services, consumers can dramatically lessen their impacts on the Earth. To be green consumers we need to be more mindful of what we are purchasing and why.

Green Consumers

Consumers have tremendous power to improve our world. While buying less is always well advised, there are ways we can put consumer dollars to work to advance the green economy. Green shopping implies spending money on products that are less harmful to the environment. In the final analysis where we spend our money determines the type of world we create. When we make green purchases we are helping to build a more sustainable economy.

It starts with simple choices like avoiding products made of plastic or products that come with excessive packaging. Ideally we would investigate the environmental impacts of the products we buy and the companies we are considering buying from.

Responsible Consumption

Green consumers are helping to establish new patterns of consumption that decrease wastefulness and eschew over-consumption. Traditionally, our purchasing decisions have been made on the basis of quality and price. However, this approach is unsustainable. The goal of more responsible consumption is to minimize environmental impacts and support social justice by providing workers with a living wage.

Some of the choices are easy, like buying products that are labeled organic, local, or fair trade. Others aspects of making responsible purchases require a bit more research.

When considering a purchase ask yourself these four questions about the product.

1) Are there less environmentally harmful alternatives?

1) Does it relfect compassion for the Earth, individuals and communities?

2) Does it offer ecological benefits or is it focused purely on unbridled economic growth?

3) Is the company that manufactures and sells it transparent and accountable?

While there are a plethora of green shopping options, not all are created equally. Just because a company calls itself green does not mean that they actually are. To be a green consumer engaged in responsible consumption, do a thorough investigation before you make a purchase.

For more information on responsible consumerism click here (pdf).

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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