Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

This Earth Day, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - and Respect

National Green Pages businesses help consumers care for the Earth and each other

April 19, 2005

Washington D.C. – Most people already know to “reduce, reuse, recycle” not just on Earth Day but everyday. More and more consumers are adding another action to this list: buying green products to respect the workers, communities, and the environment. Co-op America’s National Green Pages (www.greenpages.org) lists more than 2,500 businesses that provide over 10,000 green products and services in ways that help people and the planet alike. From clothing, to household goods, to flowers, a growing number of green products are available to consumers locally and on the Web.

“There are thousands of companies across the country who practice respect for the world around them. When consumers support these businesses they contribute to a growing green economy that works for all,” said Denise Hamler, Business Network Director at Co-op America.

“You can also feel secure shopping with the companies listed in the Green Pages because they have all been screened by Co-op America to meet high environmental and social standards,” Hamler added.

One such business is Cottonfield, stared in 1999 to provide consumers with healthy, chemical-free clothing options for the office. Cottonfield provides 100 percent certified organic cotton clothing, all of which is produced free of toxic dies. Eliminating the chemicals normally associated with textile production not only protects the environment it also protects the workers and communities where factories are located.

Rivanna Natural Designs is another company working to protect people and the planet by providing awards and corporate gifts made sustainably. Their wooden plaques, desk sets, clocks and other awards are made from wood which is sustainably harvested and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and the glass awards are made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled glass. This company is not only sourcing their products without harming the environment, they also hire refugees and provide them with living wages and resources for becoming self-sufficient.

Everyone can help workers and the environment by supporting socially and environmentally responsible businesses that work year round to ensure their workers have fair wages and good working conditions. Here are a few examples of the kinds of people- and planet-friendly products consumers can buy this Earth Day and every day:

  • Fair Trade Certified Coffee – ‘Put some justice in your daily java!’ While conventional coffee production means low wages for farmers and environmental devastation in coffee-growing areas, the fair trade system provides fair prices to farmers and allows them to maintain their lands and continue using traditional, environmentally friendly growing techniques.
  • Organic clothing – ‘Great looks and eco too!’ Growing clothing fibers can be hard on the planet; for instance, conventional cotton cultivation uses 24% of the world’s insecticide market, making it the most pesticide-intensive crop grown on the planet, according to the Organic Consumers Association. Large amounts of pesticides are harmful to the workers who pick them as well as to the planet, however clothing made from organic fiber is an excellent alternative.
  • Nontoxic cleaners – ‘For a truly clean house!’ Many common household cleaners contain harmful chemicals – which can cause health problems in those who use them and contaminate groundwater in the places where they’re used. Using nontoxic cleaning products helps keep people and water supplies healthy.
  • Organic, local produce – ‘Good for the Earth and good for you!’ Conventional agriculture often involves large amounts of pesticides, low wages, and unhealthy working conditions for farm workers, and transportation of food across long distances. Consumers can ensure that fruits and vegetables are healthy for workers, the planet, and their families when they purchase organic, local foods from CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and local co-ops.

By supporting businesses that reduce, reuse, recycle, and respect, consumers can help ensure a healthy future for people and the planet alike. Responsible businesses selling products such as those described above can be found at the Green Pages Online, www.greenpages.org.

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