This is something that’s been rattling around in my head for a while, and I thought it might be worth spilling it all here and seeing what you guys think. I write in a lot of places about how to be green, and I get a lot of pitches from companies who want me to review their newest green product. But what does green really mean?
Over at Feelgood Style, we talk about green beauty and fashion, and every time I get a pitch from a cosmetics company, I find myself wondering if they’re green enough. One company makes cosmetics that come in fully compostable packaging, but they use artificial “fragrance,” which can mean any number of toxic, artificial chemicals. Are they green? What about a company who’s recipe is totally free from mystery ingredients, but their packaging is plastic?
I’m even running across this as I start my fall garden! I avoided products from Scotts (even “organic” ones), because they’re a major distributor for Monsanto’s RoundUp. Not familiar with RoundUp? It’s a pesticide, and it’s terrible for the environment. You can read a bit about some of the problems with RoundUp here.
Right, so! In my effort to avoid Scotts, I picked up organic seed starter from Burpee, only to learn that 3-5% of their seeds are from Monsanto. Is 3-5% a small enough number? Am I being green by supporting Burpee’s organic line, when I’m also supporting a company that sells genetically modified seeds?
How to be Green
Some companies are making a genuine effort, while others are just greenwashing. So many companies co-opt the word “green” as a marketing gimmick, that it’s hard to suss out who’s really making an impact and who’s just trying to break into this growing niche of green consumers. It’s up to us to read the labels, do the research, and see beyond the marketing.
But I think if we really want to get at the heart of how to be green, it’s about more than what we buy. It’s what we choose not to buy and what we choose to make ourselves. I think the key to really being a green consumer is to…consume less! That can mean just opting out of the newest and shiniest thing. It can also mean using your crafty skills to reuse what we have and turn it into something new.
My friend Kelly Rand has said many times that she thinks handmade can save the world, and I think she’s really got it right. I also think that handmade can mean different things for different folks. Maybe that means planting and nurturing a food garden, instead of buying produce from halfway around the world. Maybe it’s cooking a meal, rather than ordering wasteful takeout. Or turning an old t-shirt into a reusable shopping bag.
We all have the power to make these small changes, and I think the real way to be green is to do our best to reduce our impacts however we can.
Does that make sense? I sort of feel like I’m tossing out a half-baked idea here, and I’d love to flesh it out with you guys. What does green mean to you?
Hi there! My name is Becky Striepe (pronounced “stree-pee,” like “sleepy”), and I am a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta, Georgia. My life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible to everyone! Check out my new book: 40 Days of Green Smoothies!