Seven Forgotten Ways to be a Responsible Consumer
I like to think of myself as a responsible consumer. That is, I research all the products I buy ahead of time to ensure that it's not only free of chemicals and toxins, but is also produced, packaged, and shipped in a socially responsible fashion.
However, it's not just what you buy, but how you buy that really matters.
These are the seven ways to be a more responsible consumer that I think get overlooked much too often.
Paper or Plastic?
Neither. I have my own bag for groceries, and a backpack for anything else.
Cash or Charge?
Charge, for sure. Do you have any idea how much it actually costs (economically and environmentally) to print, handle, and transport money? And yes, I said print -- the Federal Reserve charges the American people interest for every dollar printed. It's the #1 cause of inflation -- just look at Zimbabwe.
Bulk or Convenience?
I buy all my non-perishables, slow-perishables, and fast-ingestibles in bulk. The only thing I buy in small quantities are fruits and veggies, for which I walk down the hill to the grocery store every 3 days.
Takeout or Delivery?
Interestingly enough, delivery is actually more environmentally sound. The drivers have to keep their cars in tip top shape or else eat it in gas prices, and chances are, their car gets better gas mileage than yours. Not to mention the fact they usually do multiple deliveries at once (except Domino's).
DVDs: Rent or Buy?
Renting is definitely a better option, but even better than renting is Netflix since they don't use plastic containers. Plastic is actually more than half of the U.S.'s total oil use, so it's best to try and minimize plastic consumption whenever possible.
That whole buy local thing is absolutely nothing compared to the carbon footprint from meat and dairy production. Just cutting meat and dairy from two meals a week would offset any faraway purchases and then some.
Bus, Train, or Plane?
Until Virgin perfects that greener plane, flight is right out. Ever notice how fog and smog collects around airports? It's not a coincidence. Train is usually best, but if you can't stand the slow ride (I love it, personally), go for a bus. Yeah it's uncomfortable, but would you rather your kids live in discomfort for your choice to be comfortable now? I didn't think so.
Patricia Mayo also blogs about effective communication at ComHacker.org, and is working on a free ebook to help you get a great virtual assistant at an unbelievably low cost.
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