Tag Archives: consumer

EVERYONE CAN AFFORD TO BUY ORGANIC

I’ve been buying organic produce, grass-fed beef and free range chicken for several years, and I don’t have an unlimited grocery budget.  This is how I do it.
Take a look at the items and costs below, then stay with me, and start thinking outside the box.

1/2 gallon of ice cream – $3.50
wiki.answers.com

Large bag of chips – $2.50
www.ask.com

Six pack of soda – $2.50
wiki.answers.com

Bag of oreo cookies (17 oz) – $3.95
www.chacha.com

Frozen pizza – $7.00 – $9.00
blogs.wsj.com

This is just a sampling and prices will vary where you live, but everyone is aware  that this “stuff” is VERY expensive.  We all have our cell phones with us everywhere these days, so here’s the challenge:  The next time you go grocery shopping, use the calculator on your phone.

You may be surprised when you actually discover what you can save by eliminating the items above.  Then go to the organic produce area (most supermarkets now provide some organic produce – YAY!) in your market, and see if the credits you gave yourself by eliminating junk food will pay for your organic purchases.  And, don’t forget your local farms; buy from farmer’s markets if you can find one in your area.  Go to Local Harvest, a Farmer’s Market locator.

Here is another thought:  If you eat out once in a week you have probably used up all the credits you would need  to buy organic produce and grass-fed and/or free range meat.

We are talking about lifestyle changes, and they are never easy, but these types of change not only benefit our health, but the earth as well.  And, if you are serious about eating better you can now eliminate the false concept that organic is not affordable.  I’m not suggesting that we give up everything at once, or even forever.  Start small, and eliminate a couple of things – think of it as gradually trading up to a healthier lifestyle.  And, by all means, treat yourself once in awhile.

CHOICES AND THE CONSUMER CULTURE

The home and belongings of a nomadic Nigerian family.

Let’s think for a minute about how much “stuff” we own.  Have you ever taken a walk in your neighborhood and looked through an open garage door?   In a lot of garages, in America, we no longer have room for the cars.  We have become a collector society for a number of reasons, to include financial stability.  Instead of sharing a seldom used item we each went out and purchased one.  Think about camping gear, gardening tools, inflatable beds.  In our family, a few years ago, there were two rototillers and one at the neighbor’s, next door – consumer culture.   Independence also breeds this type of behavior, but times are changing.  We need to depend upon one another more these days, to save money, but also to make a lighter footprint upon the earth.

Last summer I came across an article in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper that discussed the topic of borrowing items instead of buying everything we need.  The article stated that, “Social networking and smart phones have paved the way for people to share their stuff…….people who share information about themselves online are more likely to share their belongings.”

To read the full article in the San Francisco Chronicle, go to:
Buy it?  No, Borrow it!   The newspaper listed the following sources for access to borrowing, individually, or creating a group in your community:   Rentalic,   Neighborrow,        NeighborGoods,         Share Some Sugar,        Snap Goods   (This one has a guarantee).   Think about this lifestyle choice, the world won’t change until we do.

After years of maintaining all the “stuff” we own,  the simplicity in the image above, does have my attention.

YOUR BEHAVIOR CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

Earth Day was, as always, a mixed bag for me.  It is a wonderful opportunity to engage more of us in recognition and active participation, but it also brings on angst for the really big issues where we seem powerless.  Our country doesn’t have an energy policy; large corporations are still polluting; is there any kind of national proposal to limit our use of oil – no.  The list is endless.

Last week I was reading yet another horrific story of an issue that seemed out of our (civilian/citizen) control, and then I thought about it for awhile.  We could have tremendous influence, and even control over many issues that face our planet, but we have not exercised our power.  We could change things dramatically by our behavior.  In the U.S. our economy thrives or dives on the ability of the average (you and me) citizen to consume products and services.  We have tremendous untapped power in this arena, that could be enabled by the choices we make.  The statement that “we’re all in this together” has become a cliche by now, but it is very true!

I believe that we can no longer afford to think that what we do individually doesn’t matter.  Everything is connected.  Native peoples around the globe have lived with this principal forever, and in recent times it has been verified by scientists.

I recently read that if a 100 watt light bulb is on for half a day, every day, for a year, it can use enough electricity to burn  400 pounds of coal.  It may seem a small thing for you, as an individual, to have only one lamp on in the evening, only in the room where you are spending your time.   But, when we look at the affect of multiple actions compounded, it becomes obvious that every individual does make a difference. And, please think about replacing all your old incandescent bulbs with the newer alternatives:

MANY OF THESE ITEMS ARE JUST BAD HABITS, BUT WE CAN CHANGE:
Use dish towels instead of paper towels.
The Paperless Kitchen

Take reusable bags to the grocery store, or for any shopping.
Waste Less Bags

Try to do most of your laundry in cold water (obviously not possible every time)
Ninety percent of the energy consumed while running a load is used to heat the water.  The average household opting for cold can eliminate as much as 350 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually. 

 Unplug your appliances when not in use.
 Eliminate “Standby” Electricity

So many of our habits are engrained, and change requires rethinking myriad ways in which we live our lives.  Pay attention to your habits and see where you can make changes.  Involve your grandchildren in these decisions.

The larger issues of how to affect change in our society have to do with our behavior as well.  It seems almost impossible that we could wield power over large corporations simply by the choices we make, but it’s entirely possible.  We are “consumers,” and can chose who we support, and where we deny that support.  We need to stop buying just what is advertised to us, and become aware of companies operating with “green” policies.  
Green Rankings – U.S. Companies 

The above website provides a start, but these days you can go online for any company that you purchase products or services from, and see how they measure up.  Today there are more choices than ever for green alternatives, and I believe that it is our responsibility to make ourselves aware, and purchase accordingly.  

It seems that we need to rethink almost everything we do these days, and it’s no small task.  We (Baby Boomers) were raised in the “convenience” age, where everything new was accepted and hailed as a breakthrough, but now we are beginning to realize that all is not well.  Read the labels, research, investigate, and don’t settle until you know that your consumer action is a “green” one.