Going green encompasses many different aspects. Included are companies that want to cash in on the eco-friendly movement. They advertise that their products are environmentally sound, when in fact they're not (Greenwashing). Going green involves its own language as well as different perceptions of those who practice its teachings. With all of the worthwhile causes available to support, it's easy to experience "compassion fatigue."
Tracey Bianchi is a married mother of three young children, living in Chicago. Her environmental concerns for both her family and future generations inspired her to write Green Mama: The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Children Save the Planet .
Bianchi earned a master of divinity degree and is a frequent speaker and writer on topics of Christianity. Regardless of your religious beliefs or denomination, and whether or not you have children, Green Mama is an enlightening read. The state of the Earth's natural resources and how you can make a difference are the book's central themes. Here, compassion fatigue, eco language, and eco snobs are highlighted.
Compassion Fatigue. The world is full of needy causes, and it's easy to become exhausted by all the options to help. When this occurs we can develop "compassion fatigue," and stop caring about any of them. To offset this occurrence, discover your "one big thing." It's the ecological issue that moves you to action, including praying about it and learning about it.
Bianchi discovered an eye-opening flyer that read: "Your kids need to love the environment before they will want to save it." Like yourself, don't exhaust your children in your effort to make them more eco-savvy. Start small to help them discover their own "one big thing." Suggestions include joining a conservation organization and "adopting" an endangered species and promoting its survival. Converse with your children to unveil their environmental passions.
Eco Language. Green living, like anything in American culture, has its own vocabulary. Learning to navigate it is essential to joining a conversation about any of its pursuits. It's one part of the green journey that takes some time and is worth the investment.
Greenwashing . Greenwashing refers to a company's marketing that entices you to believe that the planet benefits from your patronage when in fact, there's little or no benefit. To avoid deceptive advertising, ask a few questions before purchasing, including:
- Does the product you're about to buy explain how exactly it's green or simply look green?
- Do front packaging claims match the ingredients listed on the back?
- Is the product certified by a reputable organization such as an organic or fair trade company?
- How much of the product is made from fillers (food industry additives to reduce costs and bulk up products)? Fillers can alter
- Does the company use the future health of children to sell products (ie commercials featuring children running through green fields, with hands up and smiling faces)?
MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet). Manufacturers aren't required to list all their ingredients on a label. Legally they must identify all of them on their MSDS. Originally designed to aid medical professionals in determining possible allergens, you too can request access to these documents.
Organic. An organic item is grown and manufactured in a way that respects the land, people and animals that produced it. It's minimally processed and any wastes generated from manufacturing or farming methods are either reused or disposed of in an earth-friendly way.
Natural Organic Program (NOP). Currently, NOP is the only nationwide organic labeling system backed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The highly recognizable green and white label is based on the percentage of the product that is organic:
- 100 percent organic = 100 percent organic in its agricultural origins.
- Organic = at least 95 percent organic material.
- Made with organic materials = at least 70 percent of the material is organic.
- No USDA label = anything less than 70 percent organic material.
Eco Snobs . Bianchi acknowledges that, "without a doubt there is a sort of eco-superiority that outdoorsy, eco-savvy people can emit." She describes her observations at a Denver airport en route to Chicago, including "fleece wearing locals, sporting high-end technical backpacks. They sipped from bulky Lexan water bottles that were often hooked on their packs by a carabiner."
Living a sustainable life is more about an open mind and heart; and making life work in a simple, responsible, cost-effective way. The green life is open to all regardless of current eco awareness, eco status or location.
Bianchi considers three quick categories when making green choices for her family: Once they're ranked, she determines their financial, ecological and social benefit before pursuing them. Those classifications are:
- Conservation resources. Water and electric are examples, as monitoring their use typically begins to trim bills and save energy.
- Earth-friendly substitutions . Food choices, cleaning and personal care routines full of chemicals or ones originating from a company with shabby environmental policies, can be replaced with more eco-friendly options.
- Indirect financial benefit options . Making a contribution to an environmental organization may help both your family and society at large.
If you're interested in environmental issues, you're bound to learn something new by reading Green Mama: The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet.
To see if goods and services you use are listed on the Green Washing Index, visit http://www.greenwashingindex.com .