Taking Green Baby Steps

I’m sure I don’t need to start by asking something like, “have you noticed how everything seems to be green or going green these days?”  Green is no longer just a color.  It’s a movement, belief system, and set of actions.  It’s everywhere.  It’s on products at the store, commercials, books, and blogs.

It really seems like a good idea.  Take better care of the earth.  Choose products that are better for us.  Use fewer resources.  The thing that I’ve been noticing lately about going green is that there are a few “low hanging fruit” actions that my family can take, but after that I start to get confused and overwhelmed.  Bisphenol A, free radicals, hormone disruptors, nanoparticles, carbon footprint, methane, composting, sustainable, locavore, and green washing are all terms that come up often in my search for information on green living.

We have made some changes which are a reflection of our choice to become more conscious of our impact on the environment, those around us, and even our own bodies.  We drink from water bottles instead of buying bottled water.  We cloth diaper.  We use cloth napkins.  We use some alternative cleaning methods.  We are starting to buy products that are made by companies with mission statements (and practices) that reflect our views.  During the summer growing season we attempt to buy as much local produce as we can at our farmer’s market and by joining a CSA.  When we were homeowners we were composting.  Unfortunately, for as many earth-friendly choices as we make, I am sure there are 10 that are not very earth friendly.

What I would like is a 1-2-3 guide.  First, do this.  Then, get rid of that.  Finally, once you’ve followed our easy to understand 81-step program, you are green!  Something like that anyway.  I asked about this on twitter a little while ago, and I got a couple recommendations for sites and a book.  There are some days where I feel like we do pretty well.  Then, there are some days when I feel like we are the un-greenest family in our town.

Lately, some of the things that have been on my mind are:

  • Is it better to buy a green-washed product than a regular mainstream product if a more environmentally friendly option isn’t available?  Is that letting the green washing company off the hook or is it possible it’s slightly better than the “regular” product?
  • If I buy a green product off a website because a better local option isn’t available, how do I factor in the resources and energy necessary to get that product to me?
  • Is an organic product from South Africa “better” (and how is better defined?) than buying a non-organic product from Chile or Mexico?

My list goes on, but I think you get the idea.  I have been thinking lately that it might just be best to pick one group of products and one priority and work on that.  For example, maybe I should focus on cleaning products and switching our current products to ones that are less harmful to us.  Another option would be to focus on what we eat and figure out which foods and which companies are both sustainable and good choices for our family to consume.  I’m not sure though.  I suppose the idea is to continue in the process whatever decision I make.  Choose something to work on, learn about, etc. and keep on going.