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Yesterday Seventh Generation posted a great blog by one of its contributors: More Voices, More Votes. The post equates making green and healthy choices with casting votes. Every time you choose a home-cooked meal over a fast food one, every time you bring your own bags to the supermarket, every time you recycle instead of throwing something out you cast a vote, she says. When you buy something good for the environment, you’re helping to shape what’s offered in the marketplace. You’re telling the manufacturers what you want. You’re making a difference. She’s right — sort of.

I read another article this week. This one was from the New York Times. Appearing as the Off The Shelf column, ‘Green Gone Wrong’: Can Capitalism Save the Planet?, the article examines a new book from Heather Rogers: Green Gone Wrong: How Our Economy Is Undermining the Environmental Revolution. Ms. Rogers has a different take on voting with your wallet. She thinks, and rightfully so, that the environmental movement — when Big Business takes over — can actually do more to harm than good where the environment is concerned. I’ve reported on this, too. Right here on this blog. A lot of organic farmers, for example, aren’t acting so organically. They are nothing more than Big Agra companies wearing a green hat while hurting our environment. Many are simply clearing rain forests away to create organic farms and in the process hurting the true organic farmers out there. And don’t get me started on their carbon footprint created by producing goods a continent a way and shipping them here to the States. (You might as well just read my other blog post — Supermarket Confusion: Or Why Wal-Mart is Bad for the Organic Movement — here.)

So what’s the answer? Do you skip organic food? Do you use your own reusable bags? Do you buy natural products? Of course, but with some thought. I know that’s hard to hear and swallow. Aren’t we already thinking too much about all of this? Every time the TV comes on we’re hearing about more terrible environmental news. Every time we go to a Web site we see more disturbing images. The answer is yes. We need to be a little more uncomfortable. And, like the New York Times reporter says, we have to make good choices while simply consuming less.

And this will be my task between now and Earth Day. Every day I am going to track my buying. I’m going to share with you what I’ve purchased. I’m going to have to justify to you and to myself if my purchase was actually necessary or worth it. Essentially, I’d like to try and be spend-free for the next few weeks. (Aside from food, of course.) Can I do it? Will it be worth it? At the very least it will give us more insight into why we are in this mess to begin with.

What do you think your biggest green faux pas is? I’d like to hear about it.

2 Responses to “Green Choices Matter — Or Do They?”

  1. MarthaandMe says:

    I have gone through phases where I have bought absolutely nothing. And it’s freeing in a way. Good luck with this!

  2. kb says:

    It’s so difficult! The world wants us to shop. And sometimes shopping feels so good. –KB

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