Greenwashing is becoming all too popular and it isn't well regulated. Packaging and marketing laws were last updated before sustainability was really a question. Beware of false advertising. Please read labels carefully. And always always always do a little research. There are a few labels that you however can rely on:
Energy Star - backed by the US Environmental Protection Agency & US Department of Energy
Fair Trade Certified - Independent nonprofit serving as US rep. of the Fairtrade Labeling Organization International, a global network
FSC Certified - backed by the Forest Stewardship Council, an independent international organization dedicated to forest management
Green Seal - an independent nonprofit organization based in Washington D.C., that tests and evaluates green products
USDA Organic - backed by the US Department of Agriculture
So don't forget to look for these green myths:
- When appliances/electronics are off, they don't use power- remember they use standby power. They need to be unplugged or a surge pmust be used and that must be turned off.
- Energy conservation = energy efficiency: FALSE. Energy conservation is an activity where one choses to use less energy (turn off your lights when leaving the room) and energy efficiency is a technology that requires less energy to carry out the same task.
- Eating organic is better = yes it's true, it's seemingly healthier (no hormones, peticides, etc... and they are grown using sustainable and regenerative farming methods), but you need to read labels and pay attention to FOOD MILES or the distance your food has traveled from farm to store. Shipping = use of petroleum. So buy local and if you can locally grown organic - try the farmers market.
- You have to do it all = remember there are many shades of green and every shade counts!
- Being green means I recycle = yes, recycling and upcycling are great ways to reduce landfill contribution but many recycled goods still end up in landfills. Don't just dispose of smarter, but purchase smarter. Do you really need individually wrapped goodies, water and soda? Can you buy in bulk and store in reusable containers? Remember, you need to change how you think when you buy, not just when you throw away.
- If it says natural, it's good for you = Currently there is no regulation on the term "natural" in cosmetic lines.
- Bamboo is green = it's true that it's a more sustainable wood, but it's not always green. It can be though. Bamboo demand is actually causing some companies to do the extreme - cut down natural forests to plant bamboo! Choice of supplier is important. It is not yet regulated. Currently, if it was between bamboo and locally cut FSC certified maple - some would say the maple is the environmentally better choice.
- Remember it's not always what you buy, but how it was manufactured, transported, and it's ingredients. Calling something organic, natural or eco-friendly means nothing. Do that adequate research. All I've written is up for debate, but I've read a lot and I feel comfortable saying it.
- Wash dishes and laundry in cold water (yes they still get clean)
- Buy products and foods local & organic when possible and always try and avoid products with excess packaging
- Bring your own grocery bags (paper or plastic... doesn't matter, they are both bad)
- Recycle based on your townships sanitation laws (NYC recycle #'s 1 & 2)
- Upcycling what you can (take out containers, cereal bags, tins, etc...)
- Buy used at thrift stores and craigslist
- Don't buy harsh cleaning materials - use a vinegar water solution (and baking soda)
- Buy healthy beauty products - organic, local, natural & healthy! It's not just what you put in your body but also what is on your body
- Homemade is always better
- Try and make your own toners, face wash, masks, etc...
(I considered writing numerous blogs ... for personal use, green notes, wedding stuff, but I wouldn't be able to keep up, so use my labels!)