We vote with our dollars. It’s that simple.
The reason you see more organic food in regular grocery stores is that there is a growing demand. Six years ago, it would have been unheard of for regular grocery stores to carry recyclable products, organic food, and CFL light bulbs, however, it’s now the norm. Even when I was visiting my in-laws in the tiny town of Dublin, GA – their local grocery store now boasts an enormous organic section. Every time I pull out an extra dollar or two for toilet paper that is made from recycled paper instead of virgin pulp, I know that those dollars are sending a strong message that travels from the grocery store computer right up to the manufacturers. Just imagine if every single citizen decided that they didn’t want anymore trees cut down for paper products? Every manufacturer would have to change to meet demand. So, what are the 5 most important products that we can purchase green, to not only minimize our impact on our delicate biosphere, but also make our voices heard?
Remember, the more of us who buy products that are safer for the environment, the more the prices will continue to come down.
1. Toilet Paper and Paper Towel & Tissues: I admit that I do use paper towels. Green zealots who come to my home might be appalled, but I NEVER buy towels that aren’t made from at least 70% post-consumer product. Same thing goes for T.P. Many of the big box stores now carry a selection of recycled paper products. My local Vons/Pavillions/Safeway carries a line, which is pretty reasonable. I recently saw that Duane Read pharmacies are carrying their own green line of paper products, including tissues.
2. Printing Paper: This is a no-brainer! When you go to Staples, you can either buy 100% recycled paper (the most expensive), partially recycled paper (less), or regular printing paper. I implore you to go for the former. It will cost a little more, but each time you reach for a box of recycled paper, just think of the trees that you are saving and the message you are sending to Staples suppliers. FYI: Staples carries a fantastic line of Sugarcane-based “Sustainable Earth” notebooks, which I love.
3: Laundry Detergent and household cleaners: Problem ingredients in laundry detergents are phosphates and some surfactants, mainly nonylphenol ethoxylates. Phosphates were banned from U.S.-produced laundry detergents in the 1970s so they are not a severe problem. Surfactants, which help soil to float away from garments, form a micelle which surrounds the piece of dirt and carries it away. The micelle are toxic to fish because they get into the fish gills and impairs their ability to get oxygen from the water. Most commercial detergents also contain synthetic fragrance, which contains phthalates, and optical brighteners, which make your whites appear white, even if they’re not particularly clean. I love Dropps and Method Laundry Detergents.
4. Trash & Garbage Bags: We can recycle as much as we want to, but if we buy plastic bags for our trash, we’re missing the point. Now it’s really easy and affordable to buy trash bags either made from corn or recycled materials. I have found them in Target (Glad), Walgreens, Pavillions, and many drugstores Nationwide.
5. Aluminum Foil: Unlike paper, aluminum can be recycled time and time again and make itself back into another roll of foil on your grocery store shelf. Since the mining of aluminum requires a massive amount of energy, it only makes sense to make sure we all buy recycled rolls. If the extra cost doesn’t seem to make sense, at least make sure that you re-use each sheet of foil you use and make sure you recycle it when done.