Green Consumerism: An A-to-Z Guide


Edited by: Juliana Mansvelt & Paul Robbins

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      About the Editors

      Green Series Editor: Paul Robbins

      Paul Robbins is a professor and the director of the University of Arizona School of Geography and Development. He earned his Ph.D. in Geography in 1996 from Clark University. He is General Editor of the Encyclopedia of Environment and Society (2007) and author of several books, including Environment and Society: A Critical Introduction (2010), Lawn People: How Grasses, Weeds, and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are (2007), and Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction (2004).

      Robbins's research centers on the relationships between individuals (homeowners, hunters, professional foresters), environmental actors (lawns, elk, mesquite trees), and the institutions that connect them. He and his students seek to explain human environmental practices and knowledge, the influence nonhumans have on human behavior and organization, and the implications these interactions hold for ecosystem health, local community, and social justice. Past projects have examined chemical use in the suburban United States, elk management in Montana, forest product collection in New England, and wolf conservation in India.

      Green Consumerism General Editor: Juliana Mansvelt

      Juliana Mansvelt, Ph.D., is a senior lecturer in human geography at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. She is author of Geographies of Consumption (2005) in which she argued a consideration of issues of power, ethics, and sustainability are essential to understanding how people, places, and consuming are connected in a globalizing world. She has recently completed a series of review articles on consumption for the journal Progress in Human Geography and has published on consumption-related topics in a variety of books, journals, and encyclopedias. Her teaching has primarily been in the field of geographic theory and qualitative research techniques, geographies of consumption, and globalization. She has a received a number of teaching awards, including a National Tertiary Teaching Award for sustained excellence in 2006. Mansvelt is a qualitative researcher and her recent research has focused on catalog shopping, ethnic food marketing, and also aging. She is currently involved in several research projects that endeavor to explore relationships between aging, consumption, and place, with a view to investigating purchase, use, and divestment of commodities across the lifespan; the interactions of older consumers with organizations; and factors influencing standards of living for older people.


      Perhaps no change has been more evident over the last century than the growth of consumer society. Though the chronology of the emergence of consumer society is much debated, it is generally accepted that its rapid expansion has been a 20th-century phenomenon. The rise of the advertising and marketing industries; the development of Fordist and post-Fordist industrial processes enabling swift production of different commodities; improvements in transportation, logistics, and information technologies; the emergence of communicative means such as the Internet, television, and mobile technologies; and political, cultural, and economic changes associated with globalization have meant few places in contemporary society are exempt from the impact of consumer culture. Processes of commodification have resulted in an increasing volume and variety of goods and services sold in the marketplace and the emergence of new forms of markets, particularly with regard to digital technologies. Such changes have led some commentators to suggest that consumption, rather than production, is now a key engine driving societal change. The incursion of more and more commodities and the images surrounding them into the spaces and practices of everyday life has encouraged consumerism, that is, the process whereby individuals' work and private lives are intricately connected to the acquisition of commodities, and where goals surrounding these become a part of life course trajectories.

      Whether people are in situations of material lack or plenty, consumer culture and consumption processes have become a pervasive and visible part of material and imagined landscapes, and of the social relations and practices that comprise everyday life. Commodities provide a means of mediating human relations, and they may offer liberatory, narcissistic, and even hedonistic possibilities for self-fulfillment and self-expression. Consumption can be a medium for processes of identity formation and subjectivity, with commodities and their meanings facilitating consumers' reflexive constructions of multiple and changing selves. Yet commodity relationships cannot be reduced to possibilities for identity formation, as commodities themselves form an important part of material cultures, social relationships, and meaningful places. Capitalist systems of accumulation rely on consumption as a mechanism for realizing the value inherent in the production of commodities. Consumption is critical for production systems to thrive, and for reinvestment of profit from commodities. Though consumerism plays a role in securing the economic and individual well-being, it does so in ways that both enhance and diminish this. Consumer choices and actions may influence social and environmental relations at the time of purchase and use, or in the future. Similarly, consumer actions may impact environments positively or negatively in local contexts (such as in households and communities), or at a distance (for example, via connections through production or disposal processes).

      The global proliferation of commodities and the extent of commodification and consumerism have become a source of environmental and social concern. Changes in consumption have occurred unevenly, reflecting and producing social division. Wide material disparities exist between both First and Third Worlds, and within many nations, regions, and local spaces. Concerns about carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions and their contribution to global warming have coincided with a continuing recognition of limits to growth based on the use of nonrenewable resources, and evidence of the negative impacts of commodity consumption on the environment. The consequences of inputs to production processes can be detrimental to society and space (for example, unsustainable farming or horticultural practices, land degradation, and pollution), and problems may also occur as a consequence of the characteristics of commodities produced and their consumption (the packaging, durability, energy efficiency, and biodegradability of commodities). The use and disposal of commodities can have harmful consequences for both current and future generations through such activities as the leaching of chemicals into soil and water, the burning of fossil fuels, and the creation of stockpiles of inorganic waste. Consequently, the kinds of commodity practices people engage in, the types and amounts of commodities consumed, and the potential reuse and recycling of commodities must be considered with regard to effects on people and environments.

      The 20th and 21st centuries have not only seen a proliferation of commodities and consumer choices, but also efforts by firms, marketers, organizations, and governments to construct consumers in multiple ways. Governments informed by neo-liberal ideologies shape notions of citizens as responsible, knowledgeable, and sovereign consumers purchasing everything from food to health care and education through the market mechanism. Advertising and marketing industries appeal not only to capacities of goods and services to fulfill material needs, but also to a multitude of symbolic needs. Advanced information and technology systems and forms of consumer surveillance enable the construction of sophisticated consumer profiles, yet the diversity of people, orientations, and products mean the notion of “the consumer” is impossible to sustain. It is in the context of multifaceted relationships involving the state, trans-state institutions, private sector firms and organizations, and civil society that green consumerism has emerged as a distinctive sphere of consumer practice, politics, and identification.

      Despite the promotion of green commodities as a distinct alternative to other goods and services available on the market, the range of products and practices associated with green consumerism are diverse, with multiple characteristics. For example, green adhesives may be made from natural rather than synthetic substances, may have chemical compositions that mean they emit less hazardous vapors, or may be specifically designed to reduce energy loss in buildings. Green consumerism encompasses a range of practices centered on lowering consumption, consuming more sustainably, or ameliorating the negative social and environmental effects of consumption (such as reducing carbon footprints, reusing, downshifting, dumpster diving, and recycling). The concept also applies to commodities and services that are intended to reduce harmful effects on people and the environment, and that may be framed in relation to their role in production or consumption processes, or the ways these might be regulated. For example, in relation to their production, green products may be derived from renewable or recycled resources, may be natural rather than synthetically produced, involve fairly traded labor or sustainably produced material inputs, and engage with humane animal practices. With regard to their consumption (involving purchase, use, and disposal) green commodities may aid energy efficiency, be commodities that are more durable, reusable, or recyclable, or may be products that avoid toxic or other emissions and reduce waste. Though green consumerism is associated with minimizing overall environmental impact, this often involves consideration of the human and health impacts of commodities sold, with many green products promoted on the basis of securing more sustainable futures.

      The construction of green consumerism as a mode of being, a way of thinking and acting on the world, and a form of consumption is both influenced by and an outcome of wider social, economic, political, and environmental processes that are formed relationally in place and across time. Much of the visible work of shaping green consumerism is undertaken by agents (everything from firms to charities, activist groups, and individuals) keen to reveal the connections between producers and consumers by focusing on the material connections along commodity chains and networks, and in linking the symbolic meaning of commodity production and consumption to notions of knowledge, ethicality, fairness, and transparency. The revealing of the commodity fetish can rest on the assumption that knowledgeable and informed consumers will behave in an ethical and socially responsible manner with regard to their consumption, and that this will influence the firms making and marketing the goods and services to produce more green products and to further green their production. There are numerous examples of where producers, manufacturers, distributors, and marketers have responded to calls for more green products or have altered their production processes. Consumer activism and a knowledge of consumer demand and preferences has prompted firms to formulate codes of corporate responsibility, create environmental profiles, and to develop systems for tracking, monitoring, and auditing aspects of green production. In addition, green, eco, and fair trade labeling and quality assurance systems have emerged to assure that production is green; enabling customers to make trusted and informed purchases. However, there is unease surrounding green washing, where firms' professed changes may be more cosmetic than substantive, and about the ways in which green politics and practice might be subsumed within neo-liberal agendas or forms of corporate and institutional power.

      Negotiating the complex terrain of consumption may not be easy for individuals, groups, or organizations. The capacity of people and groups to effect change and to engage in green consumerism is uneven given disparities in income, material circumstances, life chances, and differential enrollment in and access to social and spatial networks. Individuals and collective actors also differ in their capacity to take action and to have their views and voices heard, acknowledged, and acted upon. Commodity and consumption practices arise from multiple motivations and moralities and are undertaken in the context of social, political, and economic structures that may both limit and enable possibilities for action. Consuming less, boycotting (avoiding some products completely), and buying or substituting greener alternatives, conservation/careful use, reusing (through practices such as dumpster diving, buying second-hand, composting, and recycling) are all strategies that have been employed by consumers. However, the unveiling of the commodity fetish with the aim of informing consumers about the environmental and social effects of their consumption decisions, or even consumers' professed beliefs in green values, may not be expressed in altered consumption behaviors.

      In an article in the journal Antipode, “Consuming Ethics: Articulating the Subjects and Spaces of Ethical Consumption,” Clive Barnett, Paul Cloke, Nick Clarke, and Alice Malpass argue that it is important to understand everyday consumption as ordinarily ethical. A view of green consumers as those who respond ethically only in relation to knowledge about products or production processes can tend to ignore the ways in which consumption practice is already constituted ethically, thereby obscuring possibilities for how everyday practices and moral dispositions might be enrolled, reworked, and reproduced through policies, campaigns, and collective actions to secure green consumerism. Thus as Peter Jackson, Neil Ward, and Polly Russell argue in their recent contribution to the journal Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, moral and political economies are always co-constituted. In addition, the purchase and use of green products by individual consumers does not necessarily guarantee a reduction in overall levels of consumption, nor an affiliation with green politics, and there are questions yet to be answered about how green consumption can challenge or change issues of power, control, and inequality. As a result, how states, firms, organizations, and activist groups can engage meaningfully with individuals and vice versa becomes a critical issue in progressing green agendas and securing positive social and environmental outcomes.

      This encyclopedia endeavors to present a wide-ranging examination of green consumerism, one that reflects the complexity of the subject, and the diversity of views and debates surrounding the concept. The multiplicity of topics and disciplinary perspectives provides a useful survey of the nature of green consumerism, the forms that it takes, the issues that impact it, and the practices it involves. The entries demonstrate in numerous ways how consumers' decisions about what might constitute green practices and products are not always straightforward. There are multiple social and environmental dimensions of commodity production, use, and disposal to address, as well as the costs and values to both the individual consumer and society to consider. For example, simply buying local does not necessarily mean the products have been ethically produced, or have fewer environmental impacts: purchasing food with lower food miles may not actually be more energy-efficient if the energy invested in production processes are taken into account; and the provision of alternative products and spaces of consumption, while less hazardous to the environment, must also meet the needs and values of the communities in which they are located. Leaving issues of the production, construction, and availability of green products and services aside, for consumers negotiating and engaging with a range of commodity choices and potential impacts, consumption is likely to be influenced by numerous factors, including: material and economic circumstances, one's enrollment in particular cultural and social contexts and networks, as well as knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and preferences regarding green products.

      Together the contributors highlight the complexity of consumption, and in doing so provide insights into the social and spatial constitution of green consumerism. Many authors have provided specific examples from the particular geographical contexts in which they are situated. Beyond that, the entries illuminate the multifaceted and sometimes contested contours of green consumerism and the ways it is embedded and shaped in relation to wider cultural, economic, political, and environmental processes. Ultimately I hope readers will derive from the entries a sense not only of what green consumerism involves, but more critically, how it might evolve, addressing both limitations and possibilities for real and meaningful change.

      JulianaMansveltGeneral Editor

      Reader's Guide

      List of Articles

      List of Contributors

      • Andrews, Mitchell, University of Sunderland
      • Arney, Jo A., University of Wisconsin–La Crosse
      • Barr, Stewart, University of Exeter
      • Beder, Sharon, University of Wollongong
      • Blaylock, Craig, University of Houston-Downtown
      • Bled, Amandine J., Université Libre de Bruxelles
      • Boslaugh, Sarah, Washington University in St. Louis
      • Boulanger, Paul-Marie, Institut pour un Développement Durable
      • Bourmorck, Amandine, Université Libre de Bruxelles
      • Bristol, Kelli, University of Houston-Downtown
      • Brohé, Arnaud, Université Libre de Bruxelles
      • Caracciolo di Brienza, Michele, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva
      • Chatterjee, Amitava, University of California, Riverside
      • Chiaviello, Anthony R. S., University of Houston-Downtown
      • Cliath, Alison Grace, California State University, Fullerton
      • Dale, Gareth, Brunel University
      • Davidsen, Conny, University of Calgary
      • Dermody, Janine, University of Gloucestershire
      • Dorney, Erin E., Millersville University
      • Emery, Barry, University of Northampton
      • Evans, David, University of Manchester
      • Fenner, Charles R., Jr., State University of New York at Canton
      • Finley-Brook, Mary, University of Richmond
      • Andrew Fox, University of the West of England, Bristol
      • Gonshorek, Daniel O., Knox College
      • Gonzalez-Perez, Maria-Alejandra, Universidad EAFIT
      • Good, Ryan Zachary, University of Florida
      • Graddy, Garrett, University of Kentucky
      • Harper, Gavin D. J., Cardiff University
      • Helfer, Jason A., Knox College
      • Hoffmann, Sabine H., American University of, the Middle East
      • Hostovsky, Chuck, University of Toronto
      • Irvin, George William, University of London (SOAS)
      • Kaur, Meera, University of Manitoba
      • Keane, Timothy P., Saint Louis University
      • Kirwan, James, Countryside and Community Research Institute
      • Krogman, Naomi T., University of Alberta
      • Kte'pi, Bill, Independent Scholar
      • Lang, Steven, LaGuardia Community College
      • Leinaweaver, Jeff, Fielding Graduate University
      • LeVasseur, Todd J., University of Florida
      • Lowrey, Tina M., University of Texas at San Antonio
      • Lubitow, Amy, Northeastern University
      • Lynes, Jennifer K., University of Waterloo
      • Mangone, Giancarlo, University of Virginia
      • Maycroft, Neil, University of Lincoln
      • Maye, Damian, Countryside and Community Research Institute
      • McCarty, John A., College of New Jersey
      • Merskin, Debra, University of Oregon
      • Mukhopadhyay, Kausiki, University of Denver
      • Murray, Daniel, Independent Scholar
      • Nash, Hazel, Cardiff University
      • Nieuwenhuis, Paul, Cardiff University
      • Nussinow, Jill, Santa Rosa Junior College
      • Orsini, Marco, Institut de Conseil et d'Etudes en Développement Durable
      • Paolini, Federico, University of Siena
      • Patnaik, Rasmi, Pondicherry University
      • Paul, Pallab, University of Denver
      • Pollack, Jeffrey, Independent Scholar
      • Ponting, Cerys Anne, Cardiff University
      • Powell, Marie-Alix, Knox College
      • Poyyamoli, Gopalsamy, Pondicherry University
      • Putnam, Heather R., University of Kansas
      • Rands, Gordon P., Western Illinois University
      • Rands, Pamela J., Western Illinois University
      • Reed, Matt, Countryside and Community Research Institute
      • Robles, Laura Joanne, University of Houston–Downtown
      • Roka, Krishna, Penn State University
      • Ross-Rodgers, Martha J., University of Phoenix
      • Roy, Abhijit, University of Scranton
      • Roy, Mousumi, Penn State University, Worthington Scranton
      • Salsedo, Carl, University of Connecticut
      • Saravia, Luis, University of Houston–Downtown
      • Schroth, Stephen T., Knox College
      • Scott, Austin Elizabeth, University of Florida
      • Shrum, L. J., University of Texas at San Antonio
      • Singh, Satyendra, University of Winnipeg
      • Slinger-Friedman, Vanessa, Kennesaw State University
      • Smith, Alastair M., ESRC Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability & Society
      • Staddon, Chad, University of the West of England, Bristol
      • Stancil, John L., Florida Southern College
      • Tam, Michael, Knox College
      • Curtis Thomas, University of Richmond
      • Thompson, Adeboyejo Aina, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso
      • Tsoi, Joyce, Brunel University
      • Ugarte, Marco, Arizona State University
      • Wagner, Ralf, University of Kassel
      • Wallenborn, Grégoire, Université Libre de Bruxelles
      • Waskey, Andrew Jackson, Dalton State College
      • Watson, Derek, University of Sunderland
      • Wickstrom, Stefanie, Independent Scholar
      • Woodward, David G., University of Southampton School of Management
      • Zaccai, Edwin, Université Libre de Bruxelles
      • Zamora, Michael A., University of Houston–Downtown

      Green Consumerism Chronology

      1880s: C. V. Riley, a scientist working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, advocates the use of biological pest controls for farming, a method used today in organic farming.

      1899: In Theory of the Leisure Class, economist Thorsten Veblen introduces the notion of “conspicuous consumption,” and argues that people acquire unnecessary material goods in order to claim higher status among their peers.

      1906: The Pure Food and Drugs Act and the Meat Inspection Act establish guidelines and procedures to inspect food and drugs sold in the United States for safety and purity.

      1907: Petrol fumes are identified as damaging to health at an international hygiene conference in Berlin.

      1921: Most European countries sign a treaty that prohibits the use of interior house paint (but not exterior house paint) containing lead.

      1939: Swiss chemist Paul Müller discovers that DDT is effective at killing insects, yet harmless to humans in powder form. The chemical is widely used in the armed forces to control mosquitoes and lice, and after World War II becomes popular in agriculture.

      1940s: Photochemical smog, created when volatile organic compounds (including hydrocarbons present in automobile exhaust) react with sunlight and oxygen, is first observed in the Los Angeles area. It is also discovered that ozone, a product of the photochemical reaction, is irritating to humans, kills plants, and damages materials such as rubber, fabric, and paint.

      1942: Jerome Irving Rodale begins publication of Organic Farming and Gardening, popularizing the concept of organic food production as advocated by British writers Sir Albert Howard and Lord Northbourne.

      1948: The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded to Paul Müller for his discovery of the usefulness of DDT as an insecticide.

      1946: Edna Ruth Byler founds the fair trade organization Ten Thousand Villages, a nonprofit program of the Mennonite Central Committee, which markets products made by artisans in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

      1952: An atmospheric inversion in London, coupled with particulate matter in the air from motor vehicles and coal-burning stoves and factories, caused nearly 3,000 excessive deaths in a single week, and highlights the importance of controlling man-made sources of air pollution.

      1954: Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit, by Adelle Davis, promotes the consumption of natural foods and vitamin supplements.

      1955: Economist Victor Lebow identifies how much consumerism has become part of American culture in an article in the Journal of Retailing, saying both social status and personal satisfaction were closely allied with consumption, while continued high consumption was required to make use of the ever-increasing number of products created by the American economy.

      1958: The Delaney Clause is added to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, banning the use of food additives that have been shown to cause cancer in lab animals. This clause also shifts the burden of proof by requiring that the manufacturer must establish the safety of an additive, rather than requiring the FDA to prove that it is harmful.

      1962: Rachel Carson's Silent Spring calls attention to the harmful effects of human activity on the environment, including air pollution and the use of harmful chemicals in agriculture.

      1965: Local homemakers in Kanagawa prefecture, Japan, organize a cooperative in which they pay a local family farm in advance for milk that is then provided to them at reduced prices. This cooperative grows into the Seikatsu Club, which currently connects over 20 million Japanese consumers with local producers.

      1965: The United States passes the first emissions standards for automobiles, regulating carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, which takes effect beginning with 1968 model year cars.

      1970: The first Earth Day is celebrated internationally, drawing attention to worldwide interest in environmental protection and reform.

      1970s: Witkar, the world's first car-sharing scheme, is introduced in Amsterdam using battery electric vehicles.

      1971: Michael Jacobson, Albert Fritsch, and Jim Sullivan found the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The center becomes famous for its attention-grabbing investigations into the nutritional qualities of popular foods, labeling Fettuccine Alfredo “heart attack on a plate,” and demonstrating that a typical takeout order of Kung Pao chicken has more fat content than a McDonald's Quarter Pounder.

      1971: Frances Moore Lappé publishes Diet for a Small Planet, introducing the concept of “complementary proteins” (now considered by some scientists as fallacious). Lappé advocates the adoption of a vegetarian diet, both for reasons of health and because of the much greater resources required to produce meat rather than vegetables and grains.

      1971: Oregon passes a law requiring that beverages in bottles and cans be sold with a deposit that is refunded to the customer when the contained is returned. The Oregon Bottle Bill is estimated to motivate return of 90 percent of beverage containers, reducing roadside litter and increasing recycling.

      1972: 459 residents of a village in Iraq die and over 6,500 are sickened after consuming bread made from wheat treated with a fungicide containing mercury, highlighting the dangers of this chemical for humans.

      1972: The Environmental Protection Agency bans the use of DDT in the United States.

      1973: Due to increasing evidence of the health risk posed by exposure to asbestos, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency bans its use in building materials, but does not require inspection or removal of asbestos materials already in place.

      1973: The United States begins phasing out the use of leaded gasoline, resulting in substantial reduction in lead exposure for most Americans.

      1973/1974, 1979: Energy crises draw attention to the dependency of the United States on Middle Eastern oil, leading to increased interest in fuel-efficient European and Japanese cars and the introduction of smaller, lighter cars by U.S. manufacturers.

      1975: Jim Hightower coins the term “McDonaldization” in his book Eat Your Heart Out, which warns of the danger of international corporations such as McDonald's destroying local cuisines, and driving small farms and restaurants out of business.

      1975: Gourmet Magazine runs a feature story on Chez Panisse, the California restaurant run by Alice Waters, giving a huge boost to the Waters's ethos of cooking with seasonal, locally grown, organic produce.

      1975: The United States requires that all nondiesel cars include a catalytic converter, which greatly reduces air pollution by burning carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides at extremely high temperatures (2,000–3,000 degrees Fahrenheit) so that they are reduced to water and carbon dioxide.

      1977: A boycott against Nestlé products begins in protest of the company's aggressive marketing of infant formula in the Third World to the detriment of the health and welfare of the citizens of those countries. The boycott costs Nestlé millions of dollars, and is successful in forcing them to follow guidelines published by the World Health Organization regarding the marketing of infant formula.

      1977: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission bans the sale of house paint (interior or exterior) containing more than 0.06 percent lead by weight, as well as the use of paint containing more than that level of lead on toys or furniture.

      1978: The United States bans the production of aerosol cans that use CFCs as a propellant because CFCs are found to damage the ozone layer that shields the Earth from ultraviolet radiation.

      1980s: Green marketing is developed to address consumer desire for products that consume less energy (such as energy-saving light bulbs) or otherwise cause less environmental harm (like recycled paper products).

      1981: In Voluntary Simplicity (revised edition published in 1993) Duane Elgin advocates an alternative way of life that is less tied to career success and the acquisition of status-enriching consumer goods, and focused more on the quality of life and human relationships, as well as a sustainable lifestyle.

      1985: Robyn Van En coins the term “community-supported agriculture,” and establishes the first collective in the United States in Massachusetts. In this system community members buy shares of a farmer's crops in advance and receive their portion of the crops that are delivered as they are harvested. This shifts some of the risk of crop loss, as well as the benefits if a growing season is particularly productive, from the farmer to members of the collective.

      1985: An estimated 200,000 people in the Midwest are sickened by Salmonella-contaminated milk, making it the largest salmonellosis outbreak to date in the United States.

      1986: Arcigola Slow Food, the forerunner of the international Slow Food movement, is founded in Italy as a protest against standardized food produced by international corporations such as McDonald's, as well as a celebration of local products and traditions.

      1987: The Montreal Protocol, developed with representatives from 29 nations, marks the first international attempt to control or prohibit the use of chemicals believed to deplete the ozone layer. Industrialized countries agree to ban production of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) by 1996, while developing nations must phase them out by 2010.

      1988: The Dutch development agency Solidaridad introduces fair trade coffee in the Netherlands under the label “Max Havelaar” (referring to a fictional character who opposed exploitation of coffee pickers).

      1989: Kalle Lasn founds Canadian advocacy group Adbusters after he is unsuccessful in purchasing television time to advertise “Buy Nothing Day,” a holiday meant as a counterforce to the consumption-heavy Christmas shopping season.

      1990: The Organic Foods Production Act, which sets national standards for the production, handling, and labeling of organic food in the United States and established the National Organic Standards Board, is implemented as Title XXI of the Farm Bill.

      1990, 1991: The U.S. government bans the production of paint containing mercury for interior (1990) and exterior (1991) use.

      1991: The U.S. government bans the use of lead solder in cans containing food or soft drinks, although not the importation of food housed in cans that use lead solder.

      1992: The Environmental Protection Agency introduces the voluntary Energy Star program to help consumers evaluate the energy efficiency of common products. Specific standards vary by product, but most Energy Star products represent an improvement of at least 20–30 percent in energy efficiency over the traditional version of the same product.

      1992: The European Union introduces the Ecolabel to help consumers identify products that have relatively low impact on the environment over the life cycle of the product.

      1992, 1995: Veganism captures worldwide publicity when American vegan chefs Ken Bergeron and Brother Ron Pickarski win gold medals at the International Culinary Olympics in Berlin.

      1993: The McDonaldization of Society by sociologist George Ritzer describes the effects on American society of the success of McDonald's fast food restaurants: he argues that the principles of efficiency, predictability, and control that are characteristic of McDonald's have come to dominate not just the fast-food industry, but other sections of U.S. and world society.

      1993: Four children die and hundreds become ill after eating hamburgers contaminated with Escherichia coli at several Oregon branches of Jack in the Box fast food restaurants, drawing attention to the dangers of this organism and the lack of effective regulation of the U.S. commercial beef supply.

      1994: The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act requires all processed foods sold in the United States to include nutrition labels to help shoppers select nutritious foods.

      1994: The U.S. Dietary and Supplement Health and Education Act places limits on the claims vitamin manufacturers may make about their products' abilities to prevent, treat, or cure disease.

      1995: The World Resources Institute publishes a report stating that motor vehicles are the primary source of carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, and hydrocarbons in congested urban areas, highlighting the importance of reducing automobile emissions in order to limit air pollution.

      1997: The term “affluenza” is introduced in a documentary of the same name to refer to a cycle the filmmakers see in contemporary Western society: the unbounded pursuit of material possessions that provide ever-decreasing satisfaction, but produce the desire to accumulate still more goods.

      1997: Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International is founded in Germany with the goals of bringing together disparate fair trade organizations and harmonizing standards for fair trade certification.

      1997: A food poisoning outbreak in Japan is traced to radish sprouts grown from seeds produced in Oregon, highlighting the difficulties of policing the safety of the food supply in a global marketplace.

      1998: the United Nations issues a report investigating growth in consumption in the 20th century. It reports that the richest fifth of the world's population accounts for 86 percent of the world's total private consumption expenditures, while the poorest fifth accounts for only 1.3 percent.

      1999: The National Resources Defense Council reports that nearly one in four of the brands of bottled water they tested violated at least one of California's water quality regulations, casting doubt on claims that bottled water is healthier or otherwise superior to ordinary tap water. Most brands of bottled water are not subject to FDA regulation because they are packaged and sold within a single U.S. state.

      2000: Slow Food U.S.A., the American branch of the international Slow Food movement, is founded to celebrate and preserve local food traditions and to promote biodiversity and sustainable growth.

      2002: The National Organic Rule goes into effect in the United States. It requires producers and handlers of organic food to be certified, and specifies a number of conditions that food labeled as “organic” must meet.

      2002: Food Politics by Marion Nestle alerts the general public to how extensively the food industry exerts a negative influence on the way food is consumed in the United States.

      2003: The European Union introduces regulations that govern the disposal of electrical equipment, including establishment of collection centers where consumers can deposit discarded goods (rather than putting it in the trash), with the joint purposes of encouraging recycling and reducing the pollution caused by heavy metals and other hazardous materials.

      2004: Adbusters Media Foundation introduces the Blackspot sneaker, manufactured from hemp in a Portuguese factory where employees are unionized and paid more than the minimum wage, as a challenge to athletic footwear company Nike and its alleged sweatshop labor practices.

      2006: WaterSense, a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, identifies products such as toilets and irrigation equipment that maintain high standards of water efficiency.

      2006: Wal-Mart launches an initiative requiring their suppliers to reduce packaging to the lowest possible levels.

      2007: California and 16 other states sue the Environmental Protection Agency for prohibiting them from raising fuel economy standards for cars sold or driven in their states.

      2008: Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life popularizes the concept of the locavore and draws attention to the ecological cost of the modern food industry by living for a year on food grown by her family or by other nearby farmers.

      2009: No Impact Man is published as a book and movie documenting the attempts of Colin Beavan and his family to live for one year in New York City while minimizing their impact on the environment through reduced consumption (such as no purchases of clothing), eschewing motorized transportation, and eating only locally grown food.

      SarahBoslaughWashington University in St. Louis
    • Green Consumerism Glossary

      • Acute Exposure: A single exposure to a toxic substance that may result in severe biological harm or death. Acute exposures are usually characterized as lasting no longer than a day, as compared to longer, continued exposure over a period of time.
      • Administered Dose: In exposure assessment, the amount of a substance given to a test subject (human or animal) to determine dose-response relationships. Since exposure to chemicals is usually inadvertent, this quantity is often called potential dose.
      • Adulterants: Chemical impurities or substances that by law do not belong in a food or pesticide.
      • Alternative Fuels: Substitutes for traditional liquid, oil-derived motor vehicle fuels like gasoline and diesel. Includes mixtures of alcohol-based fuels with gasoline, methanol, ethanol, compressed natural gas, and others.
      • Animal Dander: Tiny scales of animal skin, a common indoor air pollutant.
      • Back Pressure: Pressure that can cause water to backflow into the water supply when a user's wastewater system is at a higher pressure than the public system.
      • Backyard Composting: Diversion of organic food waste and yard trimmings from the municipal waste stream by composting them in one's yard through controlled decomposition of organic matter by bacteria and fungi into a humus-like product. It is considered source reduction, not recycling, because the composted materials never enter the municipal waste stream.
      • Biological Magnification: Refers to the process whereby certain substances such as pesticides or heavy metals move up the food chain, work their way into rivers or lakes, and are eaten by aquatic organisms such as fish, which in turn are eaten by large birds, animals, or humans. The substances become concentrated in tissues or internal organs as they move up the chain.
      • Body Burden: The amount of a chemical stored in the body at a given time, especially a potential toxin in the body as the result of exposure.
      • Bottle Bill: Proposed or enacted legislation that requires a returnable deposit on beer or soda containers and provides for retail store or other redemption. Such legislation is designed to discourage use of throwaway containers.
      • Buy-Back Center: Facility where individuals or groups bring recyclables in return for payment.
      • Carcinogen: Any substance that can cause or aggravate cancer.
      • Chemical Stressors: Chemicals released to the environment through industrial waste, auto emissions, pesticides, and other human activity that can cause illnesses and even death in plants and animals.
      • Child Resistant Packaging (CRP): Packaging that protects children or adults from injury or illness resulting from accidental contact with or ingestion of residential pesticides that meet or exceed specific toxicity levels. Required by FIFRA regulations. Term is also used for protective packaging of medicines.
      • Chronic Effect: An adverse effect on a human or animal in which symptoms recur frequently or develop slowly over a long period of time.
      • Commingled Recyclables: Mixed recyclables collected together.
      • Demand-Side Waste Management: Prices whereby consumers use purchasing decisions to communicate to product manufacturers that they prefer environmentally sound products packaged with the least amount of waste, made from recycled or recyclable materials, and containing no hazardous substances.
      • Dermal Toxicity: The ability of a pesticide or toxic chemical to poison people or animals by contact with the skin.
      • Detergent: Synthetic washing agent that helps to remove dirt and oil. Some contain compounds that kill useful bacteria and encourage algae growth when they are in wastewater that reaches receiving waters.
      • Distillation: The act of purifying liquids through boiling, so that the steam or gaseous vapors condense to a pure liquid. Pollutants and contaminants may remain in a concentrated residue.
      • End User: Consumer of products for the purpose of recycling. Excludes products for reuse or combustion for energy recovery.
      • Environmental Exposure: Human exposure to pollutants originating from facility emissions. Threshold levels are not necessarily surpassed, but low-level chronic pollutant exposure is one of the most common forms of environmental exposure.
      • Environmental Tobacco Smoke: Mixture of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar and smoke exhaled by the smoker.
      • Finished Water: Water is “finished” when it has passed through all the processes in a water treatment plant and is ready to be delivered to consumers.
      • Food Chain: A sequence of organisms, each of which uses the next, lower member of the sequence as a food source.
      • Food Waste: Uneaten food and food preparation wastes from residences and commercial establishments such as grocery stores, restaurants, produce stands, institutional cafeterias and kitchens, and industrial sources like employee lunchrooms.
      • Fuel Economy Standard: The Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standard (CAFE) effective in 1978. It enhanced the national fuel conservation effort imposing a miles-per-gallon floor for motor vehicles.
      • Garbage: Animal and vegetable waste resulting from the handling, storage, sale, preparation, cooking, and serving of foods.
      • Gasahol: Mixture of gasoline and ethanol derived from fermented agricultural products containing at least nine percent ethanol. Gasohol emissions contain less carbon monoxide than those from gasoline.
      • Global Warming: An increase in the near surface temperature of the Earth. Global warming has occurred in the distant past as the result of natural influences, but the term is most often used to refer to the warming predicted to occur as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases. Scientists generally agree that the Earth's surface has warmed by about one degree Fahrenheit in the past 140 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently concluded that increased concentrations of greenhouse gases are causing an increase in the Earth's surface temperature, and that increased concentrations of sulfate aerosols have led to relative cooling in some regions, generally over and downwind of heavily industrialized areas.
      • Grey Water: Domestic wastewater composed of wash water from kitchen, bathroom, and laundry sinks, tubs, and washers.
      • Halogen: An incandescent lamp with higher energy-efficiency that standard lamps.
      • Heptachlor: An insecticide that was banned from some food products in 1975, and in all of them in 1978. It was allowed for use in seed treatment until 1983. More recently it was found in milk and other dairy products in Arkansas and Missouri where dairy cattle were illegally fed treated seed.
      • Homeowner Water System: Any water system that supplies piped water to a single residence.
      • Household Hazardous Waste: Hazardous products used and disposed of by residential as opposed to industrial consumers. Includes paints, stains, varnishes, solvents, pesticides, and other materials or products containing volatile chemicals that can catch fire, react or explode, or that are corrosive or toxic.
      • Lead (Pb): A heavy metal that is hazardous to health if breathed or swallowed. Its use in gasoline, paints, and plumbing compounds has been sharply restricted or eliminated by federal laws and regulations.
      • Lifetime Exposure: Total amount of exposure to a substance that a human would receive in a lifetime (usually assumed to be 70 years).
      • Maximally (or Most) Exposed Individual: The person with the highest exposure in a given population.
      • Nitrilotriacetic Acid (NTA): A compound now replacing phosphates in detergents.
      • Non-Transient Non-Community Water System: A public water system that regularly serves at least 25 of the same nonresident persons per day for more than six months per year.
      • Office Paper: High-grade papers such as copier paper, computer printout, and stationary almost entirely made of uncoated chemical pulp, although some ground wood is used. Such waste is also generated in homes, schools, and elsewhere.
      • Organotins: Chemical compounds used in anti-foulant paints to protect the hulls of boats and ships, buoys, and pilings from marine organisms such as barnacles.
      • Other Glass: Recyclable glass from furniture, appliances, and consumer electronics. Does not include glass from transportation products (cars, trucks, or shipping containers) and construction or demolition debris.
      • Passive Smoking/Secondhand Smoke: Inhalation of others' tobacco smoke.
      • Personal Measurement: A measurement collected from an individual's immediate environment.
      • Pest Control Operator: Person or company that applies pesticides as a business (an exterminator); usually describes household services, not agricultural applications.
      • Pesticide Tolerance: The amount of pesticide residue allowed by law to remain in or on a harvested crop. The EPA sets these levels well below the point where the compounds might be harmful to consumers.
      • Point-of-Use Treatment Device: Treatment device applied to a single tap to reduce contaminants in the drinking water at the faucet.
      • Raw Agricultural Commodity: An unprocessed human food or animal feed crop like raw carrots, apples, corn, or eggs.
      • Redemption Program: Program in which consumers are monetarily compensated for the collection of recyclable materials, generally through prepaid deposits or taxes on beverage containers. In some states or localities legislation has enacted redemption programs to help prevent roadside litter.
      • Reuse: Using a product or component of municipal solid waste in its original form more than once; that is, refilling a glass bottle that has been returned, or using a coffee can to hold nuts and bolts.
      • Sanitary Water (also known as Grey Water): Water discharged from sinks, showers, kitchens, or other nonindustrial operations, but not from commodes.
      • Teratogen: A substance capable of causing birth defects.
      • Teratogenesis: The introduction of nonhereditary birth defects in a developing fetus by exogenous factors such as physical or chemical agents acting in the womb to interfere with normal embryonic development.
      • Theoretical Maximum Residue Contribution: The theoretical maximum amount of a pesticide in the daily diet of an average person. It assumes that the diet is composed of all food items for which there are tolerance-level residues of the pesticide. The TMRC is expressed as milligrams of pesticide/kilograms of body weight/day.
      • Vulnerability Analysis: Assessment of elements in the community that are susceptible to damage if hazardous materials are released.

      Green Consumerism Resource Guide

      • Anand, Sudhir and Amartya Sen. Consumption and Human Development: Concepts and Issues. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
      • Barr, Stewart. Household Waste in Social Perspective: Values, Attitudes, Situation and Behaviour. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2002.
      • Brower, Michael and Warren Leon. The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists. New York: Three Rivers, 1999.
      • Burke, Cindy. To Buy or Not to Buy Organic. What You Need to Know to Choose the Healthiest, Safest, Most Earth-Friendly Food. Boston, MA: Marlowe, 2007.
      • Carter, Alan. A Radical Green Political Theory. London: Routledge, 1999.
      • Cato, Molly Scott. Green Economics: An Introduction to Theory, Policy and Practice. London: Earthscan Publications Ltd., 2009.
      • Charles, Daniel. Lords of the Harvest: Biotech, Big Money, and the Future of Food. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2001.
      • Dobson, Andrew. Green Political Thought. London: T&F Books, 2009.
      • Duran, S. C. Green Homes: New Ideas for Sustainable Living. New York: Collins Design, 2007.
      • Durning, Alan Thein, Yoram Bauman, and Rachel Gussett. Tax Shift: How to Help the Economy, Improve the Environment, and Get the Tax Man off Our Backs. Seattle, WA: Northwest Environmental Watch, 1998.
      • Frank, R. H. Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2007.
      • Garlough, Donna, Wendy Gordon, and Seth Bauer, eds. The Green Guide: The Complete Reference for Consuming Wisely. New York: National Geographic, 2008.
      • Gasper, Des. The Ethics of Development. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2004.
      • Goleman, Daniel. Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything. New York: Broadway Books, 2009.
      • Hayden, Dolores. Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820–2000. New York: Pantheon Books, 2003.
      • Heartfield, James. Green Capitalism. London: Skyscraper Digital Publishing, 2008.
      • Hecht, Joy E. National Environmental Accounting: Bridging the Gap Between Ecology and Economy. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future, 2005.
      • Illich, Ivan. Tools for Conviviality. London: Marion Boyars Ltd, 1973.
      • James, S. and T. Lahti. The Natural Step for Communities: How Cities and Towns Can Change to Sustainable Practices. Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2004.
      • Jones, Van. Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix America's Two Biggest Problems. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008.
      • Kasser, Tim. The High Price of Materialism. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002.
      • Kutz, M. Environmentally Conscious Transportation. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2008.
      • Lee, Andy W. and Patricia Foreman. Backyard Market Gardening: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Selling What You Grow. Buena Vista, VA: Good Earth Publications, 1995.
      • Littlewood, Michael. Natural Swimming Pools: Inspiration for Harmony With Nature. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2005.
      • Makower, Joel and Cara Pike. Strategies for the Green Economy: Opportunities and Challenges in the New World of Business. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2008.
      • Melosi, M. V. Garbage in the Cities: Refuse, Reform and the Environment. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005.
      • Murty, M. N. Environment, Sustainable Development, and Well-Being: Valuation, Taxes, and Incentives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
      • Null, Gary. Clearer, Cleaner, Safer, Greener: A Blueprint for Detoxifying Your Environment. New York: Villard Books, 1990.
      • Ottman, J. A. Green Marketing: Opportunity for Innovation. New York: BookSurge, Inc, 2004.
      • Papanek, Victor. Design for the Real World. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1984.
      • Peattie, K. Environmental Marketing Management: Meeting the Green Challenge. Philadelphia, PA: Trans-Atlantic Publications, 1995.
      • Power, M. S. America's Nuclear Wastelands: Politics, Accountability, and Cleanup. Pullman, WA: WSU Press, 2008.
      • Prescott-Allen, Robert. Consumption Patterns, Ecosystem Stress and Human Development. Washington, DC: Island Press, 1997.
      • Radcliffe, James. Green Politics: Dictatorship or Democracy? New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.
      • Rogers, Elizabeth and Thomas Kostigen. The Green Book. New York: Three Rivers, 2007.
      • Snape, John and Jeremy de Souza. Environmental Taxation Law: Policy, Contexts and Practice. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2006.
      • Soderlind, Steven D. Consumer Economics. New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2001.
      • Torgerson, Douglas. The Promise of Green Politics: Environmentalism and the Public Sphere. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999.
      • Twitchell, J. B. Living It Up: Our Love Affair With Luxury. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.
      • Uno, Kimio and Peter Bartelmus, eds. Environmental Accounting in Theory and Practice. New York: Springer-Verlag, 2002.
      • Vaughn, J. Waste Management: A Reference Handbook. Contemporary World Issues. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2009.
      • Wagner, Sigmund. Understanding Consumer Behavior. New York: Routledge, 2003.
      • Williams, P. T. Waste Management and Disposal. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley and Sons, Ltd., 2005.
      • Wilson, Alex, Mark Piepkorn, and Nadav Malin, eds. Green Building Products: The Greenspec Guide to Residential Building Materials. Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2008.
      • American Journal of Economics and Sociology (John Wiley & Sons)
      • Business Strategy and the Environment (John Wiley & Sons)
      • Confronting Consumption (MIT Press)
      • Ecological Economics (Elsevier)
      • Environmental Management (Springer)
      • Environmental Science and Technology (American Chemical Society)
      • Environment and Behavior (SAGE Publications)
      • International Journal of Consumer Studies (John Wiley & Sons)
      • International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy (Emerald)
      • Journal of Consumer Behavior (John Wiley & Sons)
      • Journal of Consumer Policy (Springer)
      • Journal of Environmental Economics and Management (Elsevier)
      • Journal of Environmental Management (Elsevier)
      • Journal of Happiness Studies (Springer)
      • Journal of Industrial Ecology (John Wiley & Sons)
      • Journal of Organizational Behavior (John Wiley & Sons)
      • Journal of Social Policy (Cambridge Journals)
      • Journal of Socio-Economics (Elsevier)
      • Leisure Studies (Taylor & Francis)
      • Local Environment (Taylor & Francis)
      • Resource and Energy Economics (Elsevier)
      • Review of Social Economy (Taylor & Francis)
      • Strategy and the Environment (John Wiley & Sons)

      Green Consumerism Appendix


      This is a Website for a Public Broadcasting System (U.S. television) program on consumerism, which popularized the term affluenza, and explores the costs of American consumer culture, both to the environment and to humans and their social relationships. It takes a humorous approach to the situation, using cartoons to illustrate points, including several quizzes to “diagnose” affluenza, suggestions for “treatment,” and a timeline titled “Consuming Moments in American History,” tracing the role consumerism has played from the 17th century to today. The site also includes a teacher's guide with activities and background information keyed to the program for several subjects, including: mathematics, economics, social studies, business, and language arts. It also provides a downloadable viewer's guide, and suggestions for holding a viewing party and leading a group discussion. There is also a list of further resources on general questions of economics, consumerism, and marketing, including books, periodicals, organizations, and Websites.

      Biotechnology (Genetically Modified Foods) and Nanotechnology

      This Website, created by the World Health Organization (WHO), brings together numerous resources on biotechnology, including genetically modified (GM) food. It includes a general overview of biotechnology and food-related nanotechnology (research and development on very small particles, of 1–100 nanometers), and a document with 20 questions and answers on GM food that is downloadable in several languages. There is also a section on the resolution of the 53rd World Health Assembly on GM food, several reports of expert consultations with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a downloadable report of a 2002 WHO-commissioned study on the health implications of GM food, documents from the Codex Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology, a list of meetings related to biotechnology and GM foods, and a number of downloadable publications relating to the safety of GM food.

      Center for Sustainable Destinations

      The Center for Sustainable Destinations (CSD), part of the National Geographic Society's Research, Conservation, and Exploration Division, is dedicated to creating and supporting geotourism. Geotourism is defined as tourism that is not only environmentally sustainable, but also enhances the geographic character of a place, including its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the welfare of its residents. The Website provides information for both the individual traveler and the travel professional. For the former, it offers general tips about being a responsible traveler, as well as links to information about organizations offering ecotours, advice about differentiating good from bad ecotours, and a list of organizations involved in sustainable tourism. For travel professionals, it provides links to organizations concerned about geotourism policies and industries, and governmental and academic sites related to geotourism. The site also includes a map with links demonstrating how the principles of geotourism have been applied in different destinations around the globe.


      This Webpage, maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a resource for information about eCycling, defined as the recycling of electronic products such as televisions, computers, and cell phones. It includes basic information about why discarded electronic products require special consideration, and guides to reusing, donating, and recycling electronic equipment, including information on where to find a local, government, or manufacturer donation program. It also has information about U.S. laws regarding recycling and disposal of hazardous wastes (such as cathode ray tubes), statistics about the amount of consumer electronic equipment discarded each year and the amount that is recycled, information about certification programs for electronics recyclers, and a list of links to further resources about recycling and electronic waste.

      Fair Trade Federation

      The Fair Trade Federation (FTF), created in 1994, is part of the global fair trade movement, with a particular focus on North American organizations committed to fair trade. This Website is a resource for information about fair trade, for both consumers and businesses, including the philosophy and history behind the movement, and its current practice. It includes a searchable directory to help consumers locate members of the Fair Trade Federation by geographic location, name, or type of business, as well as a list of trade shows that include fair trade companies. The Website also includes information for people who want to get involved in the movement, information about starting a fair trade business, a list of fair trade tour operators, a list of job opportunities in the field, information about World Fair Trade Day, and many other resources.

      Green Homes

      This Website, created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), brings together information about environmental and energy issues for renters, homeowners, and homebuilders. It suggests solutions for reducing energy use and protecting health. Basic information is presented on the definition of green building, the history of green building in the United States, and research on green building, along with statistics on the benefits of green building. It also explains the different components of green building, including: energy efficiency and renewable energy, water efficiency, environmentally preferable building materials and specifications, waste reduction, toxics reduction, indoor air quality, and sustainable development. Links to relevant EPA programs and outside information are provided with information also accessible by building type (such as home, retail, or school). Links are also provided for funding opportunities in the United States from many sources, including: national, local, and state governments, industry organizations, and nonprofits.

      Greener Choices: Products for a Better Planet

      This Website, run by the nonprofit Consumers Union, offers independently researched, noncommercial information to consumers about environmentally friendly products. It includes consumer information in five product areas—appliances, cars, electronics, food, and home and garden—as well as offers tools such as energy calculators, and information about more general topics such as global warming and electronics waste disposal. Within each product category, the Website includes general articles (such as “20 Free Ways to Save Energy”) as well as reports on specific classes of products similar to that provided in the subscription magazine Consumer Reports (also published by Consumers Union). For instance, the section on air conditioners includes general advice about cooling a home and choosing an air conditioner, a calculator to determine the size required (considering factors such as geographic location, room size, and the number and direction of windows), and the energy efficiency of specific models. The Website also includes a searchable interface to help consumers evaluate a broad range of claims made on product labels (such as vegan, organic, and fair trade certified) by identifying the certifying organization, the meaning of the label, and products certified under that label.

      SarahBoslaughWashington University in St. Louis
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