How to shop green

How do you rosrt out valid from bogus "green" product claims? Green Seals are one answer.

oes it really matter to shop with the environment in mind? "You bet it does," say Norman Dean, President of Green Seal. Green Seal is the national nonprofit environmental labeling organization that awards a "Green Seal of Approval" to products found to cause significantly less harm to the environment.
But when walking down the supermarket aisle, consumers are bombarded with competing "green" claims: Biodegradable! Earth Friendly! Recyclable! How do you know which claims to believe? How do you know which are significant?
Green Seal identifies products that are environmentally preferable. According to Dean, all consumer goods have some impact on the environment. "And last year 13% of new products on the market made "green" claims, because," say Dean, "marketers know that four out of five consumers say they want to buy products that cause less harm to the environment.

It matters

Green Seal shows exactly how enormous consumer impact on the environment can be. For example:

What to do

Now that you know that it makes a difference to buy products that are environmentally preferable, how do you know which environmental claims to believe?
Look for the Green Seal, of course! The Green Seal Certification Mark - a blue globe with a green check mark - assures consumers that the products bearing the Green Seal have met stringent environmental standards. Green Seal aims to give scientifically-based, unbiased advice. Products are Green Seal-certified only after rigorous testing and evaluation. Underwriters Laboratories Inc. is the primary testing contractor for Green Seal.
The organization studies products to develop environmental standards for product categories, then submits its proposed standards to a public review process involving environmentalists, manufacturers, consumers, and government agencies. Green Seal's standards typically address the environmental impact of a product, its packaging, and its performance. And Green Seal considers the impacts of a product from manufacturing through use to disposal or recycling.
Dean urges consumers to buy only what they need, and says people should be aware that when they make a purchase, they are sending a strong message to the manufacturer. "Buy a product that meets Green Seal's standards," Dean says, "and you are, in fact, casting a vote for the Earth with your wallet. Use your purchasing power to tell manufacturers you care that the product was made in ways that cause less harm to the environment. They will listen and respond by making green products more readily available.
For a list of environmentally preferable products, call Green Seal at (202) 872-6400, or write 1001 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste. 827, Washington DC, 20036.