Congratulations! You have decided to start your new year off by living a 'greener' lifestyle! Mother Earth thanks you, as do I. Now where to begin?
The task of becoming an environmentally friendly person can seem daunting. With terms such as 'eco-friendly', 'organic', 'vegan', and 'bio-degradable' floating around the market, it's tough to know which products to focus your attention on. It is all to easy to become overwhelmed with options, give up and become content with tossing the occaisonal can or bottle into a blue bin. The key, as with most things in life, is simplicity.
A vast majority of companies are focusing on producing items and services that are friendly to the environment in one or a few different ways, such as using recycled or recyclable materials, bio-degradable content, renewable energies, fair trade products from producing countries, and organic materials. In order to showcase the measures they have taken, many will use eco-labels for easy identification.
An ecolabel is a labelling system for consumer products to identify those products which are made in a fashion to avoid detrimental effects on the environment. These labels could identify products that are certified as organic, a federal environmental choice (EcoLogo), or are recongnized as being less impactful, either in manufacturing or intended use, than other similar products available on the market.
Becoming a green consumer can take a bit of work, but is worth it in the end for both our well-being as well as the planet's. You can't expect a lifestyle change overnight, but there are steps that can be taken to go down a greener path. Looking for ecolabels is a quick way to begin living as your greener self.
Buying locally is an often overlooked option in going green. Farmer's markets are a great source of well priced, organic produce, often costing less and having more flavour than the imported foods found in large chain supermarkets. And for those with a green thumb, garden veggies are the best solution!
If buying everything locally is not an option, look for the ecolabels so at least you know someone has done the research.
There is no need to run out and start replacing everything in your house with it's environmentally-friendly cousin. Take it slowly, and when you do need new things, consider the options. There are many companies out there who take pride in their environmentally friendly options and are more than happy to share the information with you.
Remember to think about these few things while shopping, and you will be doing a great justice to not only yourself, but your community and your planet:
-Who made it? Has it travelled far to reach me? Is there a local alternative? Could it be rented, borrowed, or purchased second hand?
-How much packaging will end up in the landfill as a result of this purchase? Is this product durable, and where will it go when I'm done with it? Can it be reused or resold? How often will I actually use it?
-When this product was made, was it harmful in any way to people, communities, animals or the environment? Are the worker and animals treated fairly and humanely?
These are only a few questions that can help guide your way through the multitude of symbols, acronyms and "green" jargon that has lately been taking over the market place. If you can answer most or all of these questions, you are indeed making an educated decision, and hopefully one for the betterment of your life, your city, and the world!