A Consideration When You Click “Buy”

By: Anthony Marletta, Green Purchasing

When you log into your account on amazon.com and if, like me, you’re a little crazy about researching what you buy, you search through all of the product reviews. In any of the reviews do they mention where the product came from? Sure, they talk about the size, or the value, or their use of the product, But it’s pretty rare that you hear someone mention, “I actually chose this jacket because it was made in Bangladesh.”

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Most people, including myself, don’t usually think about the life cycle of a product when they buy something. Granted, its not exactly an easy thing to do these days. Most companies don’t want you to think about what it took to create their product.

Look at the shirt you’re wearing right now. Did you ever even think about that fact that it came from somewhere other then clearance rack at Marshalls? (I know I didn’t.)

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Arifa
Cue Arifa, a single mother of 4, who earns $24/month at a garment factory in Bangladesh with conditions similar to those banned in the U.S. in 1938. Somehow I feel a little worse now about the Nike t-shirt I am wearing..But its not just clothes.From the cars we drive, to the food we eat, everything you buy (or don’t buy) today defines part of who you are. Each choice we make has a different impact on the world from an economic, social, and environmental perspective. But the most important thing you can do is make the effort to be an informed consumer. Unfortunately, right now becoming a informed consumer isn’t as easy as many would like it to be. Today, many companies use some sort of green marketing method to gain the attention of the eco-friendly consumer. However, too often these are just marketing strategies used to deceive the customer into thinking that the organization’s policies are more environmentally friendly then they really are. The Federal Trade Commission recently put out a guide to help educate the consumer, and help them avoid “greenwashing.”

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An example would be nestle’s latest eco-shape water bottle. Here they advertise that they are using 15% less plastic then their previous bottle, which is true. But it misleads the consumer into thinking that the idea of using recyclable plastic water bottles are an eco-friendly way to drink water, when clearly the use of a reusable bottle would be a better choice.

 As a nation, it’s crucial that if/when we consume, we do so in a conscious and informed way. The choices we make have effects that interconnect us with people, places, and the natural environment around the globe.

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