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What Do You Need to Buy to Be Green?

Sep 5, 2008
One of the great temptations of trying to go green is to buy all the organic, fair trade, etc. stuff you can to show that you really believe in saving the environment. It feels good, but it's the wrong answer to the question of what you should buy in order to be green.

The right answer is: Buy less. Much, much less.

When you need to buy something, then look at what it's made of, where it comes from, and the conditions under which it was manufactured. Those are great points to consider.

But there is nothing in the least bit green about throwing away the things you have that are perfectly good. It's somewhat better to send them to a thrift or resale shop so that someone else can use them. Even in sending things on to the thrift shops, you should be thinking about whether or not you need to be replacing them.

I'll admit it's fun to look at the beautiful things you can buy now that are environmentally friendly or sustainable. Having such options is a real privilege. Just don't go overboard.

If it's not a health hazard, it probably ought to stick around until it really does wear out. That right there is the key to this whole deal.

Some things may be better off replaced, however. Old appliances may use sufficient power that replacing them will be greener than continuing to use them ought to go as your budget permits.

Cleaning supplies are a great target for replacement. I still recommend using up the old nasty chemical ones; you've used them this long and it probably won't hurt you to finish off the various bottles. The chemicals would end up in the landfill, being poured down your drain or given to a less concerned friend anyhow.

There are plenty of green alternatives out there. You can make up a great variety of cleansers just using vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and other safe, common household items. There are a variety of green cleaners out there for you to choose from, such as those made by Method and Seventh Generation.

Going green on anything you use up makes a whole lot of sense.

If you have the room, buying seeds and supplies for your garden can also make a lot of sense. Even just a herb garden can be a nice thought for those of you who are apartment dwellers. It's a little touch of nature, and control over how some of your food is produced.

Do your best to keep track of the real goal when you're going green. It's not about having the best stuff. It's not showing your green cred by dressing in the latest organic fashions or driving a hot new hybrid. It's about doing your part to do the least damage possible to the environment.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster blogs at http://www.greensahm.com/ to share her ideas as a green stay at home mom. Get more tips on budget environmentalism at her site.
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