The Internet is so big, it’s easy to miss shopping resources, especially if you’re environmentally conscientious. Here’s an easy guide to green shopping online:
The Internet has revolutionized how we shop. Shopping has become an interesting intersection between society, economy, and technology. Its also an excellent place to find great deals. It used to be true that many green products were more expensive. Free trade? Organic? Recyclable? Post-Consumer? Get out the credit card and take a deep breath! But nowadays that’s not always true; in fact many green products are less expensive, or can save you a lot of money. That fact helps drive their popularity; so much so that even large corporations are taking efforts – or even pains – to go green. But with the mainstreaming green hype, we must beware greenwashing – misleading marketing or practices that lure consumers. On the flip side, buying stuff for the sake of stuff is not environmentally friendly either.
It’s easy to know which companies are really making an effort.
National Green Pages: Co-op America provides the National Green Pages, which works like a phone book. Major brands include Patagonia, Seventh Generation, and Clif Bar; also features local stores.
LinksOrganic: an international guide to finding organic or environmentally-friendly businesses.
EcoMall: A 90s flash-back site with lots of great links for anything your heart desires.
Climate Counts: this site covers large corporations. It judges their carbon foot print and efforts to reduce it. It covers major brands in all product categories, but it does not cover individual products.
Green Peace Electronics Guide: similar to Climate Counts, covers large electronics corporations.
Find eco-friendly, affordable products that get the job done.
The Green Guide: a magazine and website with information and a buying guide, covering just about everything.
Green Home guide: for information and comparisons of furniture, appliances, building supplies, etc. in the home.
Pristine Planet: provides information and comparison shopping for just about everything, including services.
Compare The Brands: this site has a “green products page” organized by product type. For example, they compare tankless water heaters.
Responsible Purchasing: This site features details about the hows and whys of green products, along with a “products” section. They also explain different “green” standards (what does EnergyStar really mean?) and provide useful definitions (what is #7 plastic?). It’s an excellent educational resource, but the website can be difficult to navigate.
You have plenty of energy efficient and affordable options for home improvement.
GreenBuilding.COM: for everything you might need to know about improving or building your home, including LEED info.
GreenBuilding.ORG: at the time of this writing, they were renovating their web site, but it’s an excellent resource.
Oikos.com: All about green building products.
EPA.gov: Not just information on why/how to green build, but ways to get the government to help pay for it.
GreenHomeBuilding.com: Yet more information/ resources on products and methods for greening your home.
Community Product Review:
Don’t dive in blind, see what other people think about products you’ve never tried.
Huddler.com: My peronsal favorite, this site doesn’t just feature user reviews and product info; it also has user forums and wikis where users can share their opinions and expertise.
SustainLane: Member Product reviews about everything from flower food to organic ice cream.
LeafyGreen: a random but large collection of product reviews.
MetaEfficient: a blog that frequently reviews products.
Life Goggles: Another blog for green reviews and news.
my favorite sites for shopping across the web
Green Deals Daily: For daily sales and deals. Nothing says shopping like saving money.
Greenfeet.com: A hip place for anything your home desires.
The Google Directory: A shopping directory brought to you by Google.
Now that you have everything you need to shop online, I’d like to highlight a few sites in particular. Co-op America, for example, can help you find local businesses and deals in your community. While there’s something to be said for delivery (one vehicle delivering many products instead of many vehicles fetching a few products), local business and agriculture, especially local farmer’s markets, help take the sheer mileage off of most of your purchases. You can’t get much greener than that! Maybe consider Fair Trade and help ensure that factory workers earn a living wage.
“Footprint” courtesy of ClimateCounts.org. “Shop” courtesy of tao_zhyn via Flickr. “Desolate Home” courtesy of Kıvanç via Flickr. “Conversations” courtesy of b_d_solis via Flickr. “Spices” courtesy of GavinBell via Flickr. All Flickr photos were gleaned from the Creative Commons.