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by Larry

May, 2009

A Total Process Approach to Going Green

Roughly one percent of the ecological, safety, or health effects of the products and services we use or consume are evident at the end-stage, where we first note them if we are observant and concerned about the environment or about health and safety issues. Once we see those clearly discernable factors and know the relative cost of the items or services, we usually have the info we want in order to make comparative decisions about whether or not to spend our money or time on the pertinent stuff in question. Since most of us now have at least some concern for the long-term consequences of our choices as consumers, everything else being equal we shall make the selections in ways that take green issues or health and safety factors into account. Yet the choices we make usually, for all our good intentions, do not address most of the total costs of what we use, and so in the majority of cases they are flawed. The total price (in degradation of the biosphere or in hardship or risk for people directly or indirectly involved in the process) of making each of our goods starts much earlier and is usually well hidden.

A new website, aims to help us see the bigger picture as we make our hundreds or thousands of consumer choices or as we support vs. reject companies' similar choices. The hope is that, as people become more aware of such issues, particularly among the younger, more flexible generations (who are already leading us into new technologies and who will also be more directly affected by global warming, pollution, and other consequences of a prior lack of concern with safety and health in our production and consuming), sites like this one may become more popular and influential, driving the choices that are made in green-friendly or health- and safety-oriented ways in the years to come.

Just as Toyota gained market share in the U.S. once people began to realize they made high fuel efficiency, cost effective, reliable autos, compared with the huge gas-guzzling ones put out by domestic carmakers, vehicles not even as free of maintenance problems as their Japanese counterparts, so too basically intelligent and savvy commercial as well as private consumer buyers in the holistically green-conscious decades ahead will use the new information available on the entire cost of our products and services to reward those who make things fairly cheaply and yet in a way that is friendly to ourselves, our biosphere, and our workers, while punishing with decreasing profits those manufacturers that continue to ignore these important considerations.

So what does have to offer that may benefit us and make it a leader in the fight for a better way for everyone of doing, using, and making things? Here are some of the site's features:

  • It rates over 70,000 products, the ratings based on how well they meet important environmental and social "stress tests." For instance, how many people would still use certain well advertised hair coloring agents if they knew, as points out, that they have a low rating and contain carcinogens?

  • It points toward expert-recommended products suggested for their overall healthy and environmentally friendly "product footprints."

  • The website facilitates the creation of personalized lists of better products, those that make the most sense for each regular site user. The lists in turn may be downloaded onto iphones or printed out for use at local merchants, to order products online, etc.

  • It includes rated products under popular categories, such as toys, grooming items, household cleaners, and foods.

  • The site is also enhanced with: the latest news on the environmental, safety, and health fronts; a blog for discussion of such issues; an easy, attractive design; a section on how to reduce one's carbon footprint; topical features, like its current tips on picking the best summer produce; pertinent slideshows; and articles on selected relevant topics of interest, including ones adaptable to kids' use in school reports.

I think if one takes a bit of time to get acquainted with it, the site speaks well for and sells itself. Why not check it out? It's a helpful and good guide!

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