Choosing Green Products

Become skeptical about product marketing

As well-bred American consumers we are conditioned by talented marketers to salivate when we see words like "green", "sustainable", or "biodegradable". Like kids in the cereal aisle, we are easily lead to purchase based on claims and packaging. There is a whole science on using words and color, design and style to evoke the desired response in the target--that is, us--and that response is "buy!"

Before cutting loose with your hard-earned cash, consider "green washing" to get a little closer to the truth. Stand back as you examine a prospective purchase and ask yourself, "how good is the information?" Is the source objective or is it marketing hype? How much of the content is recycled? Read the MSDS sheet to find out how many VOCs a paint has. Do a little research; there's plenty of data on the Web.

Take a few minutes to slow down and reevaluate your purchase. Is is something you need or can you do without it? There's a great old New England saying: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." More often than not, sleeping on a purchase, especially a large one, can not only save money and reduce personal consumption, but prevent "buyer's remorse" too.

Analyze materials

To analyze green materials, evaluate the following factors:

Third-party certifications

Materials may be certified by the following organizations:

There are so many choices, that you just need to weigh them against your needs and project limitations. Often modest, informed choices reduce waste and conserve valuable resources. Sometimes the "best" solution won't work, so you take the second best. Being aware of what your options are is often the first important step in making greener choices.

Resources

Books

Green Remodeling: Changing the World One Room at a Time

Green Building Products: The Greenspec Guide to Residential Building Materials


If you have home improvement projects on your plate, UpdateRenovate can help. Green building awareness varies among contractors, so don't hesitate to ask about their experience in selecting sustainable materials.

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