Once you've turned off the lights, cut down your shower time, closed your windows and reduced your thermostat, you're all set to go, right? You're not an activist, you've got other things on your plate, you've done as much as one individual can reasonably do. The truth is that going green isn't only something that happens at home. The next step, and it really isn't a difficult one, is to turn your attention outwards, onto the things you purchase. As a consumer, you have the power to impact the big changes that seem so unimaginable when all you're doing is turning off light switches. But your money speaks volumes and can allow you to be an activist without any of the hassle.
With just the amount of energy you put into checking facebook once during the day, you can find out how to be a conscious consumer. Some easy tips: buy local (not just food), look for recyclable packaging, and avoid harmful chemicals from chlorides to phosphates and no.7 plastics. If you're looking for specifics, here are two websites that are trying to make information easily available to you so that when you're in the supermarket or the shoe store you can know which companies to support. Climate Counts provides little pocket booklets which you can print and carry with you when you go out. It also has a text message service so you can get the right info by phone. Check them out, and start using your voice!
Everyone's talking about global warming, but what can you personally do about it? When you buy from companies taking responsibility for climate change, you're sending a message that climate change matters to you. Not all companies share that sense of responsibility. But if they know you're paying attention to what they're doing (or not doing), they'll take action. As a consumer, you have real power. USE IT.
The Center for a New American Dream helps Americans consume responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life, and promote social justice.
Lastly, a radio show about the presidential candidates and climate change. Has it become a more salient issue now, or is the media just paying more attention now? http://www.nhpr.org/node/13973
Consumer choices really are a viable way of reducing America's carbon footprint. In the radio episode above, Dean Spiliotes expresses amazement at the industrial green revolution that is occurring. More and more companies are ready to compete and are asking Congress for carbon caps. The only way we can make sure to keep this momentum up is to add our own voices and let these companies know that we are watching.
-Kate Smith, Ruggles EcoRep