There has been a lot of talk lately about consumers “buying green” and what it means for the environmental movement. Does buying a green product make sense when you don’t need it in the first place? Not really…I have been guilty of it as well but am trying to become more aware of what I am spending my money on. Am I buying it just to “be green” or am I buying it because I “need” it and I should be buying a green version? Argh…it’s tough.
If you were to throw out a perfectly good dining table just to buy a new one made from reclaimed lumber, you would not be doing the environment any good. While the labor and lumber that went into your table could have been better spent making a table for someone who doesn’t have one at all, your perfectly good table is probably going into the recycling bin or the dump. It’s strange, really. I see some of these home-improvement shows redo an entire house in a “green” way when the house was perfectly fine in the first place. And never mind the items we actually need in our houses – we are being sold green versions of products that we don’t need at all – think aluminum can compactors sold as “eco-friendly” – and being told it is OK to consume as long as we consume green…but nothing could be further from the truth.
I am not above falling for this advice…as I have mentioned before, I like me some eco-shoes. But do I need several pairs or would one do just fine? And a $300 can crusher? What purpose does that serve that the bottom of my shoes can’t for much cheaper? It is very easy to fall prey to “if you buy green, it is OK to consume“. Ad agencies and marketing companies are very good at making us think we need things that we don’t need at all…and with the new green movement, they have yet another psychological avenue to exploit. The key is trying to avoid falling into the trap.
If a person needs a new dining room table, then by all means they should try to buy a pre-used one or at least one made from reclaimed materials. If some new clothes are needed, try to seek out some sort of environmentally-friendly alternative to what you normally buy – or better yet, check out a thrift store. But if the backpack that you have now works fine, wait till it doesn’t anymore before buying a new one. Same goes for anything that already works fine inside your home or office; why send yet more trash to the landfill just to spend money on a “green” version? In exchange for buying green, we send more to landfills, recycling centers, etc.. It kind of defeats the purpose.
The one place I say to buy green right away is in cleaning supplies and body products. I don’t really understand the in’s and out’s of getting rid of the toxic stuff in each town; I imagine your community would have a place or certain dates during the year you can get rid of chemicals without having to dump them in the drain. But switching to natural and biodegradable soaps and cleaners makes sense in terms of your individual health and should probably be done right away. This is not a consumption issue, its a toxicity issue!
None of us are perfect when it comes to this kind of mentality – I fall for it quite often, and sometimes I manage to catch myself and sometimes I don’t. I guess all we can expect to do is try our best to consume when necessary and when necessary buy green!
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