very confusing trying to figure out what is a green product
these days. There's a lot of "green washing" going on. That's
when companies try to trick the consumer into thinking their
products are good for the environment, when in fact, they
So, what are
we to do. Well, there are a few online resources that can
help, at least a little bit. It's best to think of them as
starting points, they do your own research to narrow your
choices and learn more.
companies are really good at providing responses to questions
about things like the energy use of a product. Other companies
might not directly answer your question, and they might lose a
sale as a result.
Here's a few
sites that might be helpful:
reviews.cnet.com CNET has begun measuring power use
of some products like TVs and computer monitors. This
information is really hard to find otherwise, so it's a real
gold mine for these product categories.
This is program of the federal government. Sometimes it's
great, sometimes it's not too helpful. Where it really shines
is on home appliances. Products like refrigerators and clothes
washers are listed in charts showing the amount of electricity
products would use in a year. In some categories, the most
efficient products use as little as 1/3 the electricity of
popular competitors. In some cases, you don't have to pay a
big premium for more efficient models. One problem with this
system is that stores usually don't have the big yellow Energy
Guide labels in about half of the floor models. So it really
makes sense to use the Energy Star website
before you go
to the store. Sales people generally seem uninformed about
which of their models are the most efficient. So you might
want to call a store first and tell the sales person that you
are looking for only the most efficient products. Hopefully,
the sales people will do some checking and call you back.
EPEAT.net has a nice, simple way to help you figure
out what's the best computer equipment for you. Products are
given Gold, Silver or Bronze ratings based on 29 criteria.
EPEAT is a program of the
Green Electronics Council, which is non-profit.
Gaiam is a retailer from
Boulder, Colorado that's been around since 1988. They are good
for organic clothing and bedding, yoga supplies, and smaller
energy efficient devices.
Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics
looks at the amount of toxic materials used in electronic
products and the companies' policies.
This is a well laid out site, with lots
of product categories. It looks like their main goal is to get
you to buy stuff through them, but they do point out the
criteria that applies to a given category. And they
cover a lot of product categories.
In the DC
area, two specialty stores are
Amicus Green and
Eco-Green Lliving. Both have
building and home improvement related products like paint,
bamboo flooring and the like.