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Conscious Consumer

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”
Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist, 1901-1978


Conscious consumerism is about shifting our spending habits to effect change in the marketplace. If we care about our health, our family's wellbeing and the environment, we need to change our patterns of consumption. Making conscious choices means buying wisely, consuming and wasting less, as well as thinking through the consequences of our purchases.

Good Food -- Getting Started

Who should you trust? Yourself. Where to start? Buying local is important. This is probably one of the most difficult steps, but by giving up your dependence on conventional supermarkets your options open up considerably. Limiting yourself to the organic section or natural foods section of your grocer is a great way to pay too much for your more wholesome food selections.

Do some research. These days there are tons of places to buy organic or natural foods. Besides the supermarkets, you can find them in health food stores, specialty stores, co-ops, gourmet delis, farmers' markets, community-supported agriculture programs, convenience stores and even vending machines. Have some fun exploring your community and beyond.

Profiting from Water

There are many factors to consider when purchasing that seemingly innocuous water packaged in plastic - not the least of which is how we, as consumers, are being manipulated by big business - yet again. As consumers increasingly swear off the calories in sugary drinks, the bottled water industry, dominated by four large multinational corporations: Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Danone, are offsetting the loss in sales of calorie loaded soft drinks and replacing it with a new and very profitable revenue stream - bottled water. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the sale of bottled water is the fastest-growing beverage sector in the world. Globally, an estimated $100 billion US are spent every year on bottled water.

What's In the Tube?

Basic Toothpaste Ingredients

Fluoride: The claim is that fluoride incorporates itself into tooth enamel making teeth more resistant to acids produced by plaque bacteria, as well as acids found in fruit juices, soda (both regular and diet) and certain foods. In toothpaste, fluoride is found in the form of sodium monofluorophosphate, stannous fluoride, or sodium fluoride. Prescription toothpastes (for people with dry mouth, Sjogren's syndrome, cancer, etc.) contain a much higher percentage of sodium fluoride than over the counter toothpastes.

Antibiotic Soaps

Despite a Food and Drug Administration panel finding products with antibacterial agents are no better than regular soap and water, consumers still spend more than $5.5 million annually on antibacterial soaps, hand cleaners and detergents. So why are we buying them? The confusion around antibacterial and antibiotic.

Organic Beer

The earliest brew reference was a painted clay vessel dating from the fourth millennium BC. Interestingly enough, it shows two women drinking beer and you can bet your bottom buck it was organic. Today, as you eat your grass fed, locally-raised beef burger, or down a fabulous veggie burger with parsnip fries we can once again enjoy the experience by downing a local organic ale.

Why Organic or Natural Beer?

Health Issues

Natural Air Filters

Whether you offer them a sumptuous Victorian conservatory or a narrow window-ledge, houseplants can help you breath easier. Indoor air is polluted from the various fibers present in most consumer and commercial grade carpet, clothing and decorative fabrics and wall coverings, solvents, paints, varnishes and furniture whether at home or at work. People who suffer from "sick building syndrome" often find some relief when plants are present. But remember location is everything.

Cosmetic Toxins

The human skin wraps and protects our bodies. It constitutes a living, dynamic tissue system. It also has the remarkable ability to absorb applied products, partially or completely, into the bloodstream. Up to 60% of the products we use on our skin are absorbed and deposited into our circulatory system and it adds up. The average woman's body absorbs 30 pounds of the ingredients contained in moisturizers over sixty years.

Conscious Consumer: Green Cleaners

As awareness grows about the toxic effect many cleaners have on our health, people are turning to alternative or green cleaners. Toxic cleaning supplies in the home are a concern because children crawl on the floor and put their little fingers in their mouths, resulting in greater exposure to chemical residues. The elderly who generally stay indoors may also develop an increased sensitivity to chemicals.

Instead of Teflon

The chemicals used to make Teflon coated pots and pans as well as other related products take an enormous toll on our individual and planetary health. At issue is the large chemical family of Perfluorochemicals (PFCs).

Most evidence points to the emissions of PFCs during manufacturing and their release from food packaging, fabric treatment, and other products are important sources of local and global contamination. Scientists found compounds generated from parent PFCs persist in the environment, contaminate the blood of human and wildlife, change body chemistry and cause health problems, including cancer.

Why Buy Fair Trade

As we drink our morning cup of coffee, the people involved in growing that coffee bean are far from our thoughts. As consumers, our purchasing has profound impact on the lives of the close to 20 million people who are involved in coffee production.

Many of the foods that we consume every day- such as coffee, tea, bananas and sugar- come from farmers in the Third World. Unfortunately, many of these products are produced and traded in such a way that very little of the price we pay in our stores reaches the people who actually did the work.