Photo Illustration: Person Holdsing the Earth

by Michele McKay

This New Year comes with a bonus: a new decade! Even if you aren’t the type that goes for resolutions, you can use the occasion to get behind something simple… like freeing the world of pollution, poverty, and environmental destruction. “What?” you might be thinking, “That’s not a simple resolution – it’s an impossibly colossal undertaking!” But consider this: Every time you make a purchase, you are influencing the design of our world; your choices are the equivalent of voting with your dollars for the global model you would like to help create. Your shopping decisions make a difference, as the non-profit organization Green America points out:

“Every year, the average American household will spend $17,000 on basics including food, clothing, body care, housewares etc. Now imagine that every dollar spent went toward promoting healthy, organic food; ending sweatshops and promoting Fair Trade; and creating a national marketplace for green products.”

The simplicity of this “New Decade Resolution” lies in choosing to make everyday purchases that help create a better world. Or, as Green America puts it, “to harness economic power – the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace – to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society” in order to create “a world where all people have enough, where all communities are healthy and safe, and where the bounty of the Earth is preserved for all the generations to come.”

Green purchasing tips from Down to Earth and Green America:

  • Go veggie! The single most important thing an individual can do for the environment is to adopt a vegetarian diet. Protect the planet, help end world hunger, and foster a kinder, gentler society by shopping and eating vegetarian. Learn how by reading Down to Earth’s “Top 10 Reasons for Going Veggie”.
  • Shop for local, organic produce. Purchasing local, in-season produce saves you money and helps sustain local farmers. Buying organic produce guarantees that you, your family, and the farming community are safe from hazardous and toxic agricultural chemicals.
  • Support Fair Trade products. Coffee is the second most heavily traded commodity in the world after oil. Over 25 million farmers and their families depend on it for their livelihoods, however most receive less than 1% of the price of a cup of coffee. When shopping for coffee and other grocery items, select those that are Fair Trade Certified™.
  • Buy recycled, reusable, and eco-friendly. For example, making paper from recycled stock instead of virgin materials saves trees and takes 60% less energy. Purchase re-useable over disposable, and buy safe, non-toxic household cleaners and body care items.
  • Conserve. Select energy/water efficient household appliances, lighting, showerheads etc.