By: Kimberly White
Tips to Begin Your Green Consuming Lifestyle:
- Ease yourself into the beginning of your green consuming lifestyle by beginning your research. Make a list of products and services you use most. Once you have your list, start checking into what goes into those products. If an ingredient on that list is, for example, palm oil, check to see if it’s sustainable palm oil. If not, look for items similar to it that meet your new green consuming standards.
- Use reusable bags at the store. This one may seem obvious, but it’s important. While plastic bags are often recyclable they can often be tossed out in the garbage or discarded as litter outdoors. Many of these bags often find their way into our waterways where they can be harmful to marine life.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle! One of the core mantras to green consumers, this is another obvious one. By reducing your waste, reusing what you already have, and recycling, you are not only helping yourself but you’re also helping the planet.
- If possible, bike or walk to your destination instead of driving. Carpooling can also reduce the amount of carbon dioxide our vehicles put off and reduce your carbon footprint.
- Speak with your bank about switching to electronic billing. At the moment you may be receiving paper statements or notices once or twice a month from your bank. By switching to electronic banking you’re saving paper. You can also speak with other billing agencies to see if they offer electronic billing.
- Opt for reusable food containers, cups, and plates. By choosing reusable items over disposable items such as styrofoam cups or paper plates, you are reducing your waste and saving your resources.
- Watch your energy use! If you aren’t using your coffee maker right now, unplug it. The same goes for other electricity-using items you have.
- Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth or washing your hair. Water is essential to life, try to conserve it.
- Research the company before you purchase the product. Climate Counts states, “The production of basic household goods is resource-intensive; it also has a multi-faceted impact on the environment through packaging, disposal, and more.” Learning more about a company before you purchase a product ensures you are aware of their environmental and social impact, allowing you to make the most sustainable choice.
“Going green” has become a popular slogan in recent years, but what does it mean? Going green is more than just a saying, it’s a lifestyle. A lifestyle that involves carefully researching products and being conscious of what all goes into a purchase.
It is a lifestyle that puts you- yes, you- the consumer in charge. Your purchasing power ultimately influences the market of the product or service you purchase. If enough people show a desire to purchase products or services that are sustainably sourced, economically viable, and ethically produced, businesses would be keen to meet that demand.
Green consuming can be a difficult pill to swallow for some. According to Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR), a magazine which reports on current social issues, there are five barriers potential consumers face when trying to go green:
- Lack of Awareness: People want to help prevent potential environmental issues like climate change, but they just don’t know how. SSIR reports that consumers they surveyed understood the basics about issues like climate change and how by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions they will help in the battle against climate change, they are just unaware of how they be of help.
- Negative Perceptions: Green labeling occasionally scares consumers. People can get caught up on past stereotypes. Early versions of hybrid vehicles, along with other green products, used to get a bad rep for not being as powerful, long-lasting, or as “good” as normal products. SSIR reports that GfK Roper Green Gauge, a market research company, surveyed 2,000 Americans. The results showed that of the 2,000, 61% believed that green items performed worse than their brown alternatives.
- Distrust: As mentioned above, people can be skeptical about the quality of green items. Consumers are also distrustful of how “green” certain products are. They are concerned about companies “greenwashing” their products in order to portray an environmentally friendly image.
- High Prices: A high cost can definitely scare away a consumer. When searching for a green alternative to a product, only to find that it is 2-3 times more expensive than the standard product can be disheartening. It can also give the impression that being green means spending more of your hard earned green.
- Low availability: Embarking upon the green consumer lifestyle but discovering that the closest place the sells the green product you’re after is 25-50 miles away can be a real challenge. Low availability discourages consumers from making the switch to green consuming.
These barriers may make it seem like becoming a green consumer is nearly impossible, but fear not, many of these barriers you will be able to surpass. The list of green products is steadily growing, making them more readily available for the average Joe. Also, not everything is of a higher cost; however, for those products that are, just remember you’re spending a little bit more for a guilt-free product. Distrust and lack of awareness too shall pass. As you discover for yourself which products do and don’t work for you, you will find that certain brands you can trust while gaining more knowledge in the process.
Why should you do it?
The most obvious reason to go green is to protect the Earth. However, there are other benefits that go along with a green lifestyle.
- Reduce your expenses when you reduce your energy consumption. When switching to more energy efficient appliances, you lessen your carbon footprint and end up saving on your electric bill.
- When buying green foods, you’re promoting a healthier, sustainable lifestyle.
- Switching to a green lifestyle helps you determine what you do and don’t need. You can get rid of what’s unnecessary in your life, which helps cut down on your monthly expenses.
- You’re in charge! With your purchasing power you are able to help influence market trends to be more eco-friendly!
“It’s not easy being green.” – Kermit the Frog
Kermit has it right, it isn’t easy being green. Becoming a green consumer can take time and effort, but you don’t have to do it alone. With a simple web search you have a plethora of green information at your fingertips.