July 30, 2009

Making our way through a sea of green

In my continuing quest to bring mindfulness to all that I consume, I've met more than a few roadblocks. As Organic! Green! and Eco-friendly! labels scream at me from the aisles of my grocery store the process has become increasingly exasperating. Further confusing me, the "Healthy Living" section of my local supermarket recently renovated their floors, replacing linoleum with polished wood to simulate the feel of an organic health food store. Detergents, toothpastes, fruits, and even potato chips now come in green packaging with grassy knolls, woodland creatures, and falling leaves decorating their labels. It all adds to my mounting confusion. Who and what can I trust?

In the Summer 09 issue of Tricycle Daniel Goleman's article "How Green is Green?" explores how labeling products "green" has become more about clever branding than environmental consciousness. We've been conditioned to leap at green labels without giving much consideration to what "green" really means. Thankfully, the situation is not hopeless. Goleman suggests we use resources like The Green Guide, a website that rates everything from sunscreens to beers, based on a number of environmentally friendly criteria. You can even search for the brands you currently buy and read about its rating. I was thrilled to discover that my sunscreen is very highly rated—and not so thrilled to see that my shampoo flunked.

So I've found, although it can appear incredibly daunting, that given the proper tools it does seem possible to bring mindfulness to consumerism in this ever maddening sea of green.

Do people out there have suggestions for tools that might help navigate through "green" consumerism as my quest continues? 

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