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10 Ways to Green Your Everyday Purchases

In the spirit of Earth Day, Green America is offering 10 tips for individuals to become more environmentally friendly.

“Going green saves money, creates jobs, and supports local communities. Green is the new red, white and blue,” says Green America Executive Director Alisa Gravitz. “One thing all Americans can do to help the environment on Earth Day and every day is to direct their money towards greener purchases.”

Green America’s tips for going green:

• Borrow, trade or buy used—The greenest thing consumers can do is to not buy new things at all.  You can find books, CDs and movies for free at the local library. People across the country are setting up clothing swaps to give away old clothes and get new  ones in return.  Online services like Craigslist, Freecycle and Ebay make it easy to find quality used goods locally and nationally, including first-rate used furniture that is often higher quality than new.  

• Grow your own food –When you plant your own garden you can ensure that your food is organic and healthy, and since there is no transportation involved, there are no climate change emissions.  You’ll also save money and you can spend time with your family in the garden. A recent National Gardening Association study found that the average family spends $70 a year on maintaining a vegetable garden, and grows about $600 worth of produce.

• Green your energy at home—Start with energy efficiency; using less energy is the best way to green your power consumption and enjoy big savings. There are many simple actions you can take.

• Give your car a break—If only 1 percent of car owners in the U.S. did not drive for one day a week, we would save an estimated 42 million gallons of gas per year and keep 840 million pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere.  

• Buy used, organic, or sweatshop-free clothes—Cotton accounts for more than 10 percent of the world’s pesticide use and nearly 25 percent of the world’s insecticide use. Instead of buying clothes at the mall, you can buy stylish clothes at thrift and resale shops, and purchase new clothes that are sweatshop-free, organic and/or Fair Trade.

• Buy organic and Fair Trade personal care products—Make-up and body care products have been linked to allergic reactions, birth defects and even cancer.  In addition, many products contain oils and extracts that are harvested and produced in a way that harms the environment and exploits workers.

• Buy green home products—Household cleaners, paints and stains, furniture, carpets, and many other items contain volatile organic compounds, which have been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption and eye irritants.  Instead, make your own cleaners from safe, household ingredients or purchase green cleaning products.

• Support local green businesses—Spending money at locally owned businesses keeps more money in your community while supporting the growing number of businesses that are going green.

• With the money you save, invest in a greener future—A growing number of Americans are investing for their future. While doing so, they can also invest in a better future for the planet. Invest in socially responsible mutual funds that earn competitive returns and promote corporate responsibility.  

• Turn to Green America’s National Green Pages to get started—Start greening your purchases everyday by using the National Green Pages (www.greenpages.org), the largest listing of business in the U.S. screened for their social and environmental responsibility.


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