Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Green Overload?

I recently read a great article from the NY Times, "That Buzz In Your Ear May Be Green Noise" that talked about the constant "green" messages that we are all bombarded with, many of them conflicting each other, and are we as consumers starting to tune out? In the article, Suzanne Shelton, president of the Shelton Group, an advertising and market research agency focusing on environmental products, stated that in the last six months, over half of the people in their focus groups rolled their eyes when presented with an environmentally themed advertisement, as if to say, "not another green message". I must admit, when the new Omo concentrated laundry detergent came out, I was highly cynical (and critical) of the ad campaign that spoke about the major benefit of the smaller packaging being more environmentally friendly due to lower transport costs.

So, do we throw the baby out with the bath water? How do we decide what path to take? Do I use disposable nappies that fill up landfills, or cloth nappies that use a lot of water and energy to launder? My suggestion is to use your common sense, and do what you can. Here are some simple tips that most of us can incorporate into our lives:

  • Buy fresh produce in season and choose local where possible.
  • Minimise the purchase of processed foods - not only are these foods generally more unhealthy than unprocessed foods, processing and transport will be much worse for the environment.
  • Reduce the amount of packaging you buy - buy products in bulk, and avoid single serve items. Decant into smaller, reusable containers at home.
  • Use cold water for your laundry - for general laundry items, cold water is just as effective, especially if you use a detergent designed for cold water.
  • Turn off lights and appliances not in use.
  • Make your children (and your husband) their lunches and serve in reusable lunchboxes.
  • Make sure your appliances are running effectively - aircon and heating filters should be cleaned monthly, as should refrigerator coils.
  • Check out www.simplesteps.org for some great ideas that are broken down into things that can be done in a minute, a morning or a month.

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