Thursday, March 6, 2008
It's not easy being green
One of my goals this year was to blog more...and it has been over one month since my last blog! Well, I'll do 17 Google searches and 21 emails and that should balance my electronic communication karma. ;)
In keeping with the above blogging goal, I wanted to also help spread the 'green word' to my customers, friends and family, even more than I already do on a daily basis. I love that there are so many people trying inspire others to help themselves help the world. One such movement right now is The Big Green Purse. The website is www.dianesbiggreenpurse.com. The idea is, in their words, to "use your spending power to create a cleaner, greener world." This concept is an old one, using monetary power to make changes in the world. The new twist is that the changes would be for the benefit of the environment. The theory is to take your money muscle and use it to support and encourage companies that are making environmentally responsible, sustainable and affordable products. The end result is that other companies will wise up and make more of products people are asking for now. Ah, the power of green!
This idea is not revolutionary, as money has been used to 'win friends and influence people' since way before Manhattan Island was supposedly bought with beads. However, this movement is ingenious on many levels. First, the environmental impact- educating and empowering people to make small changes that add up to big ones. Second, it revives good ole feminism. According to the B.G.P. website, "women spend $.85 of every dollar in the marketplace." We have power in numbers alone. (Forget I even said anything if you get hives at the thought of feminist power. lol) Third, people love a organized crusade, especially if someone else does the organizing. Forth, it will work!
Small Effort, Big Effect
OK, so here's the nitty-gritty, from their website, as they said it best:
"One of the fastest, easiest, most effective ways to protect the environment is by shifting money you already spend to eco-friendly goods and services.
The more money you spend on green products, the more you encourage manufacturers to reduce pollution, save energy and water, use less packaging and protect natural areas.
In fact, if a million women intentionally shift at least $1000 of their existing budget to environmentally-friendly products, we can have a noticeable ONE BILLION DOLLAR IMPACT in the marketplace."
For example, if you take the $3 you were already going to spend on Windex and get Method Mint Window wash instead, you have not spent any extra, but rather used your money wiser. Multiply that by every consumer choice you make, then by one million women, well, perhaps that is a revolution.
The idea is NOT to throw everything evilly unearth friendly away and go to Whole Foods and My Organic Market to stock up with cleaner, greener options. The idea is to divert the funds to a better option when the time comes to replace. Check out the website for more information and sign up. You might find you get to that $1,000 mark faster than you think!
Are you Green with Greed?
There was a fantastic article in the Washington Post yesterday. It hit many good, valid points. "Greed in the Name of Green" comments on the fact that in this warp speed, over consumption, consumer driven society we live in, 'green' buying has become a horrible trend that totally disregards the real environmental concerns it is meant to support. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/04/AR2008030403198.html?sid=ST2008030501534) It is true that many people out there are just becoming aware that the little choices they make everyday, every minute and the big choices they make one a month, once a year, once a lifetime all effect the planet. The author of the article makes a point to say that consuming 'green' items that one does not need merely because they are such has become yet another example of corporate peer pressure.
Sure, of course! There is 'green washing' everywhere! Corporations suddenly put 'natural lemon essence' in their product, put it in a recycled container and voila, instant eco-friendly product! Well, we all know that this is not true. Just isn't, can't be. Why? Because that large corporation is still making that lemon product in a plant in the mid west, draining toxic sludge into the water supply that has spiked the rate of cancer for the town resident 4 fold over the last 20 years!
Phew... wow, I think I have watched too many Lifetime movies! I'll get off my soap box now....
As the article points out, to an extent being a green consumer is 'an oxymoron'.
Author Leslie Garrett, author of "The Virtuous Consumer," a green shopping guide, is quoted as saying, "the greenest products are the ones you don't buy."
True that. Many people have memories of their grandmas washing out plastic zip lock bags to re-use. Or, great uncles making little tables out of scrap wood left over from redoing the kitchen. These folks lived through the Great Recession, and knew what it was like to do without. They lived through the Great World War and knew what it was like to make do. They recycled aluminum cans and didn't wear stockings. Then the 1950's hit and they bought everything in sight! :)
In many ways, this GI Generation was the first wave of environmentalists and then of run away consumerism. We can learn from both examples, taking bits and pieces and finding our own way.
Consuming less, whether the items are eco-friendly or not, is the first step of being 'green'.
Live Green, Buy Green, Dispose Green. OR Reduce, recycle, reuse.
If you have made it this far, I totally and completely congratulate you! I have been thinking about this topic for a while and I got up this morning at 4:45am to start writing this. There is so much more I would like to say, but I think I'll save most of it for other tantalizing blogs. But, I will try to get to my point here...
I touched on making educated choices in the marketplace and buying 'green'. I mentioned also that conservative spending habits also make for being 'green'. Part of living a green, socially responsible life is also taking into account what you do get rid of, and how you get rid of it. The Post article points out that your evil linoleum tile floor is probably doing the earth less harm in your house than in the land fill. A slash and burn method of greenifying your home is just wasteful, in time, money and garbage.
For example, I finally decided to get new bath towels this new year. I wanted to get organic cotton ones, if I could. I checked on line and at a few places. The least expensive one I could find was $25 online, plus shipping (via diesel truck no doubt), and only came in ivory or natural. Ugh. Aren't the days of hemp colored everything over?
Then, I found that Bed, Bath and Beyond carries organic cotton towels. In a variety of nice, earthy colors. And only $14.99 for a large bath towel, which is 5 dollars more than the non-organic cotton ones I was looking at. I got two large ones (clay and indigo) and two hand towels (clay and celery), using those great coupons I always get in the mail. (Did you know that you can use more than one at a time? And, the store I went to took expired ones also.)
I ended up getting all four for about $40! Yes, I did drive to store, about a 40 minute drive. However, I was able to look at the quality, the size and the colors, which are better in real life than on the computer. I actually preferred this because I could tell if I liked them or not, without wasting the gas of mail delivery or return. I love the towels and am so happy with the purchase. If I get more, I'll just order them online, as I now know. Check them out - http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?order_num=-1&SKU=111966.
I had the old towels about 13 years. So, you can see I am not a out of control consumer of bath towels. But, I didn't want to throw them out. NO way! I didn't think they were good enough for a thrift store. I took them, and a bunch of old bedding to a homeless shelter here in Alexandria. I had a few comforters that were bad off, but not too bad for someone to still use. I'm sure that they were well received.
Old towels and bedding can also go to animal shelters. They can be used to line cages, clean animals or wipe up spills. Perhaps you have animals or kids in your house. Do you have junk towels? Or, do you use paper towels for everything?
So, this is the last tenant of the green life lesson for today. Don't throw everything away. Recycle when you can. This means your shampoo bottle, old shoes or used lined school paper. Pass it along to someone who could use it by donating to a school, organization or church. I found a pamphlet put out by the city of Alexandria telling about different places that accept such gifts.
Another fantastic resource is Craigslist. I gave away about 10 bags of art supplies to a lady whose kids love to create. I just bought 14 rolls of fabric from a women who was moving. No, it isn't all recycled fabric, but I am a fiber-phile so I couldn't resist! Put up a post for something you want to get rid of, either free or to sell, or an ad for something you might need. I love to barter and this system makes it so much easier. Also, Freecycle is another resource, as well as your company email list, or building bulletin board.
The long, long, long story short is, educate yourself, make more informed choices about living and buying, pass stuff along instead of throwing it out. Know you are making a better life for yourself and your family. Do what you can and don't beat yourself up about what you don't do!!
But, wait, there's more!
(This is going to sound so infomercial, but here goes...)
I want to support each and everyone of you in your green goals, newly made or long held. However, I am also a business woman trying to make a meager living. So, if you have made it this far in my rant, then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a 10% off coupon on your next Jenafusion purchase. My products are made from mainly recycled materials, each bag being a different percentage, depending on what I used. Most are 80-100%, with all having at least 50% recycled, reclaimed or vintage fabrics and materials in them.
So, if you were planning on getting a fun, new spring bag and a roomy shopping tote, look no further than the two above. The purse, which retails for $50, is made from recycled upholstery fabric swatches from a sample book. The tote, a steal at $30, is made from some of the Craigslist fabric and large enough for grocery shopping or a run to the library or to the yoga studio... So, get a wonderful new accessory and put it on your Big Green Purse balance sheet and be that much closer to being one in a million!
Working on spring show schedule and more new products! Shorter updates to follow! ~Jen
PS I executed about 19 Google searches in writing the above...