On the surface, “Conscious Consumerism” sounds a bit like an oxymoron.
Consumption is typically a pejorative term in the minds of the environmentally conscious. But life on this planet inevitably involves consuming so the more pertinent issue is to have awakened thinking when wearing your consumer hat.
This program features two local business leaders who are walking the narrow path as both individual consumers and business leaders. Angela Owen of Suite Sleep and Joshua Scott Onysco of Pangea Organics are both dedicated to the proposition that not all companies are created equal.
They share a common commitment to transparency in their practices, excellence in their products and education of the consumer as a harbinger of positive social change.
When it is time to buy something, we should make our best effort to be the most “conscious” consumers we can be, taking into account the impact that our purchases have on people and the environment.
Part of being a conscious consumer is educating ourselves about the hidden costs behind the things we buy. But it also means understanding how our purchases can help us shape more sustainable business practices and a more responsible economy as a whole.
We encourage you to listen in and if so compelled, comment below with your thoughts and personal perspective on this topic.
This conversation is a precursor to our live June forum at Impact Hub Boulder where we will be discussing the broader topic of deploying your financial resources in a principally-aligned and socially conscious way.
References and Resources from the Show:
How to Identify Greenwashing: From EarthEcho.org
- Examine the claim. Is the product certified by a legitimate third party organization? Are they claiming that the entire product is green or just some of the ingredients/materials?
- Ask for proof. Is the company willing to provide a copy of the environmental standard or testing protocol? Is the process open, public and transparent? Does it address the product’s lifecycle and larger environmental effects?
- Check for consistency. If this is an international organization, are they selling the same products in other countries? If they advertised themselves as ‘green’, are they still doing what they claim to be doing six months or a year after the ad came out?
- Follow the money. What organizations is the company supporting? Who are they donating their money to?
Websites to Help Identify Greenwashing:
Search for ads and products to identify Greenwashing
- Federal Trade Commission – Green Guides
- BedFax.org – What’s in your mattress?
- EnviroMedia Social Marketing & the University of Oregon – Greenwashing Index
- Underwriters Laboratories – The Sins of Greenwashing
- Greenpeace – StopGreenWash.org
- Greenpeace – Green Wash Detection Kit
- CorpWatch – Holding Corporations Accountable
- ConsumerReports – Greener Choices
Seven Sins of Greenwashing:
Underwriters Laboratories, a nonprofit safety testing and certification organization, developed the following list of “Seven Sins of Greenwashing”. These are aspects to watch out for in advertising:
- The hidden trade-offs : claim that suggests a product is “green” based on a narrow set of attributes without considering other important environmental issues. Example, paper is not necessarily environmentally-preferable just because it comes from a sustainably-harvested forest. Other important environmental issues in the paper-making process, such as greenhouse gas emissions, or chlorine use in bleaching may be equally important.
- No proof: An environmental claim that cannot be substantiated by easily accessible supporting information or by a reliable third-party certification. Example: personal care products that say they have not been tested on animals.
- Vagueness : so poorly defined or broad claim that its real meaning is likely to be misunderstood by the consumer. Example: products that are “chemical-free” or “eco-friendly” but don’t explain how.
- Worshipping false labels: product, that through either words or images, gives the impression of third-party endorsement where no such endorsement exists. Example: product name, “Natural Oats”.
- Irrelevance: An environmental claim that may be truthful but is unimportant or unhelpful for consumers seeking environmentally preferable products. Example: products that claim to be CFC-free – this is true but it is misleading because CFCs have been illegal since the 1980s.
- Fibbing: Environmental claims that are simply false.
- Lesser of two evils : claim that may be true within the product category but risks distracting the consumer from the greater environmental impacts of the category. Examples: include organic cigarettes or fuel-efficient sport-utility vehicle.
- Take a stand on one product: Keep aware of the types of purchases that take place at: your school, religious organization, club and your place of business. Inform others of more eco-friendly choices. See websites listed above to help find healthy alternatives. Decide to take a stand on one product in one of these groups.
Inform The Collaborative Community Radio Show:
Let us know your progress on Conscious Consumerism on the blog comments section below.