Green consumerism deals with the purchasing of eco-friendly products that are claimed to minimize the damage and waste to the environment. When a consumer commits to going green, then they acknowledge the environment and try to reduce their harms by purchasing products with little or no packaging, products that are made from natural ingredients, and products that are made without the threat of causing pollution. Consumer behavior plays a major role in the effects in our environment and its health.Corporations, in the industrial world, are also to blame for the poor health of the environment. Industries heavily depend on nature and its natural resources. When natural resources are scarce, businesses are not producing as much, which then leads to a decline in consumer spending. If consumer spending decreases, then businesses will begin to fall. Some industries know how to use all of their resources and they know how to use them wisely; this is why some businesses flourish while others struggle. Businesses are now going green for primarily two reasons: they truly care about the planet or they just want to make a profit off of the newly conscious consumers. Going green has been beneficial to consumers in many ways since the EPA knows that over 97% of consumers are content with the efficiency of their recycled-content and other green products (Case). This has led to businesses starting to invest in green consumerism since the demand for greener products has been on the rise.Consumers and businesses are the biggest contributors to generating carbon emissions and pollution, which damage ourselves and the environment. The level of awareness has been on the rise since people from all around the world are starting to take notice of the green consumerism movement. In the U.K, people are becoming more environmentally aware as shown in a survey of 2427 U.K audits. They are starting to realize that climate change and 80% of the population went to buy more local food, recycle garbage, and reduce product packaging (“Green consumerism”).It is not our planet that is dying yet it is our ability and that of other species to inhabit the planet is slowly dying even though every living thing must die eventually, it doesn’t mean we cannot preserve it as long as we can. Studies have shown that consumers are in danger and this time there might now be a way out.Consumers have never faced such a wide range of dangers from a witches brew of toxic chemicals, resistant diseases, and engineered organisms. And we have rapidly burned through hundreds of millions of years of sequestered carbon in the form of fossil fuels, changing the composition of the planet’s atmosphere in a gargantuan uncontrolled experiment in climate regulation (Wilk).Determining if a small change, such as our shopping habits, can make a difference is essential since we do not have much time left.Section 1: Is Being a Smart Investor in Eco-friendly Products and Methods of Production Enough to Preserve the Environment?To consume or not to consume is not the question; the true question is how much should an individual consume. The problem is not the fact that people are consuming, the problem is that people just keep taking, taking, and taking from the planet without giving anything beneficial in return. During certain seasons, resources are more scarce than they already are and consumers are to blame.We create three million tons of extra waste over the Christmas period and use over 250,000 trees´ worth of wrapping paper, so buying recycled and putting everything from the Christmas tree to your sprout peelings in the recycling box or compost bin is essential (Berry).This is why consumers are now making wiser choices because if the tree population is starting to decline, then our main source of oxygen will begin to disappear. Actions have been taken to prevent things like this from happening, such as buying greener products, saving energy, and even using alternatives that minimize the harm being done to the environment.Eco-friendly smart shopping has been beneficial in numerous ways. The use of gas-powered lawn mowers and tractors has led to decrease in exhaust emissions since it generates less than 70% of exhaust emissions compared to reports back in 1995 (“Green shopping”). Also, more consumers are converting to wind power since wind turbines is a renewable energy source. A benefit from this is that the energy being saved from the wind turbines is equivalent to not driving 876,000 miles and it eliminates 800,000 lbs of CO2 emissions (“Breaking new ground”). Reducing exhaust and CO2 emissions will lead to less toxic and poisonous chemicals in the year, which will clear the air and help asthmatic people have fewer asthma attacks.Organic farming has changed the face of agriculture since it dedicates to treating environment better. Organic farmers are determined to spend their time and their lives to “work in harmony with nature.” The creation of organic agriculture has made it possible to have a healthy ecosystem since farmers use eco-friendly methods of production, which encourages wildlife . They are trying to preserve diversity as well since a lot of species has diminished (“How green”). So, buying organic foods will not only benefit people since it is healthier for them but it will help maintain harmony with the environment.Another question that should be accounted for is: how can we better improve the consumer behavior to preserve the environment? Even though consumers has invested in many products and production methods, it may not be enough to get us back to shore, but there are numerous ways to pick up the green pace at many levels. Paper is one of the many things that go into the waste bin without a second thought. Recycling paper or using recycled paper can go a long way. Buying copy paper that is of recycled-content and is manufactured in a chlorine-free process makes a difference. Buying this type of paper allows the EPA to save more than 17,000 trees per year, saves the country 770,000 pounds of solid waste, and even prevent 1.5 million pounds of air pollution (Case).Decreasing the use of regular paper will help increase the tree population. As said before, trees are our main source of oxygen and getting rid of them will annihilate the human race. This is why consumers should not only use recycled paper, but they should also reduce printing out so much paper when it is not truly necessary. People should move their printed material to print on demand; this allows people to print things when they need them in either print or electronic form. Switching to print on demand will reduce the number of printed documents and cut down on the energy use and overall carbon footprint (Moran). Just by using these tips on reducing the amount of paper usage will help better the health of the earth. If money seems to be the reason for buying damaging products, then there are actions that can be taken to better our planet all while saving money. Households can either make or break the planet. A lot of the energy being used, trees being cut down, and CO2 being emitted comes from households. Many families cannot contribute to the usage of green supplies and appliances since it costs too much money, but that is not a problem anymore with these tips. If households use one recycled-content toilet paper per year, then 424,000 trees will be saved (Broudy). The recycled-content paper may or may be expensive, but purchasing one a year will not make a dent peoples wallets. Instead of turning on the air conditioner, run a ceiling fan because it can save a ton of CO2 emissions (Broudy). Using a ceiling fan will not only cut your electric bill, but it will save the planet while doing so.The use of windows damages the environment with all of the material that is being used to create them. Using more efficient windows will save the average household $150 a year and it will reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 4,300 pounds per year (Bell). Becoming eco-friendly does not mean people have to come more out of pocket than they usually do and this is the most common misconception when it comes to either buying healthier foods or products that won’t harm the environment.Section 2: Does green consumerism gives people a false sense of hope?It has been brought to the media’s attention that shopping green makes little to no difference in bettering our environment. Some may argue that “voluntary actions by an enlightened few are not going to change the amount of CO2, methane, and soot pouring into the air” (Wilk). Some studies have shown that consumers are not willing to change their easy ways just to spare the planet. A lot of these perspectives might be due to the fact that the government is the ultimate contributor to the poor health of our environment. According to Michel Gelobter, a former professor of environmental policy at Rutgers, the beef that people have with the green consumerism movement is that the “things causing climate change are more caused by politics and the economy than individual behavior” (quoted in Williams).The government is responsible for the poor health of the planet, but they are not the only ones to blame. It does not help when people refuse to change some of their ways just because they hold someone else to blame. A survey was conducted to show specifically who would consider recycling their used household item and who wouldn’t. The results were that 62% of parents would prefer to buy new household items rather than reusing them or even fixing them and 24% of parents said that they would only make very little changes to their shopping choices (“Ethical consumerism”). This means that most consumers are not willing to change their habits and only a few would make a change that would hardly make difference. The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is what this implies, but they can learn if they are willing. If the government does not help, then consumers can. Refusing to help the environment, even if those people believe that they should not alter their lives since there are other parties to blame, is an act of immaturity that the earth and its inhabitants cannot afford.Some argue the fact that consumer behavior and their shopping choices are not the problem, the industrial world is. “A lot of what we need to do doesn’t have to do with what you put in your shopping basket… It has to do with mass transit, housing density. It has to do with the war and subsidies for the coal and fossil fuel industry (Williams).” However, it has proven that despite the fact government and industries contribute to the damage to our environment, going green is enough. Businesses can help lessen the burden, tremendously, of getting our planet back in shape, but the question is whether or not they will help. Section 3: What is the industrial world’s role in this green movement?Businesses are not successful when consumer spending is at an all-time low, especially if they could do something that would easily avoid this. Therefore, if businesses do not meet the demand of the consumers and support this green movement, then they will be out of business. Due to this fact, there have been actions taken by businesses to support green consumerism and save the planet despite their motives.The infamous supermarket known as ALDI has recently emphasized their belief on sustainability, which plays a crucial role in cost deductions. Their “retailer’s stores are smaller than traditional grocery stores, allowing it to operate with a smaller carbon footprint” (Canning). This means that not everything is better when it is bigger and ALDI has proven that with their sustainability approach. “In 2012, we recycled 100% of the cardboard, paper and plastic film that we use, up from 97% in 2011. That effort alone saved more than 1.7 million trees (Canning).” ALDIs has made it their mission to be more eco-friendly and they are not the only businesses that are trying new ways to minimize their damage to the environment.Pizza is one of America’s favorite food and going into the pizza business a wise decision. Americans demand for pizza has reached an all-time high, but pizza comes with a major price that nobody can afford. If industries, like all of the pizza businesses in the world, keep on contributing to the carbon-dioxide emissions and pollution in the air, then our species will be endangered. Luckily, there are pizza companies that have taken their awareness of this and has decided to take action. A company known as Pizza Fusion has purchased 9,783 kWh worth of renewable energy from San Francisco-based 3 Phases Energy. Pizza Fusion environmental impact is equal to “preventing the emission of 132,240 pounds of carbon dioxide or annually removing 13 cars from the road” (Moran). This means that we will have cleaner air to breathe and if this continues annually, then the percentage of carbon-dioxide in the air will be very little.Pizza Fusion and ALDIs are not the only industries that are making a change to their ways of success. Walmart and Yahoo have been trying to become more carbon neutral by reducing their harmful methods and materials of production that contributes to toxic chemicals polluting the air. Walmart is making small changes to their packaging, which reduce the waste amount. “The company estimates that a 5 percent reduction in packaging will save 667,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, while also resulting in $3.4 billion in cost savings (Moran).” The chemicals in plastic packaging affect the human body and the environment. A lot of plastic can be found in the ocean, landfills, and on the ground. Plastic in bodies of water invades the water species habitats and if it is eaten, then it can potentially poison them. The toxic chemicals on the ground and in landfills will eventually disperse into the air causing air pollution and dangerous consequences. As said before, air pollution can cause health problems, lung damage, and increases the chances of having bad asthma attacks. “Yahoo had announced a plan to become carbon-neutral by the end of this year by making its own processes more efficient and contributing to reductions in carbon emissions around the world (Brodkin).” If the industrial world decides to change their methods of production, then it will result in an immediate decrease in waste, pollution, and toxic chemical emissions. Changing consumer shopping behaviors and businesses ways of production are two out of the three ways we can preserve the earth, but the government needs to chip in as well.Section 4: What is the government’s role in this green movement? Theodore Roosevelt was a president who cared for the environment and took action to make sure the environment was preserved. Ever since Theodore Roosevelt presidency, the government has taken the environment into account, but their decisions made it seem like they have turned a blind eye to the consequences and solely focused on the benefits for the country. Recently, with the erratic behavior of the weather, natural disasters, and high levels pollution the government has taken some precautionary measures to ensure the safety of their citizens. Big commercial cities like New York, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and so on are the most problematic places for the environment. They are the ones that are known for their major contribution to carbon dioxide emissions, pollution, and the poor health of many asthmatic citizens. There has been some cities that have taken measures into their own hands to help see another day. For starters, San Francisco’s local government has taken the action of outlawing plastic shopping bags in their city. This has led to the elimination of “181 million bags, 1,400 tons of debris, and 450, 000 gallons of oil annually” (Broudy). Outlawing plastic bags will do the environment some good since, as mentioned before, the toxic chemicals in plastic causes it to spread to the air and into our lungs. San Francisco is hoping households will switch to cloth socks instead since it is safer than paper, especially safer than plastic, and not too expensive. They say that if households were to switch to cloth socks, then it would save 500 million pounds of CO2 emissions per year, which is the equivalent of taking 50,000 cars off the streets (Broudy). Carbon dioxide emissions are deadly and saving thousands of tons of it is essential, especially in a commercial city like San Francisco. Another city in New Mexico has stepped up to the plate and made a change for the greater good. In Albuquerque, their local government has decided to change their red traffic lights and 75% of their green signals from incandescent bulbs to LEDs. This change will result in 26.4 million pounds of C02 and $900,000 in savings annually (Broudy). It would never occur to people that simply changing a light bulb and using eco-friendly ones can make a huge difference, but it does. If the federal government were to outlaw incandescent light bulbs, then think all of the gas emissions that would be saved. Some gases are good for you, but greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are fatal. If the use of toxic chemicals are left unsupervised and under no restriction, then this will lead to natural resources, once again, facing scarcity. Annihilating our natural resources will lead to a fall in all of humanity. Picture this: we would be living in a world that is constantly facing inflation, angry consumers, collapsing corporations, bank failures, and an extremely high rate of poverty. This may sound like an extreme result in the future, but continuing greenhouse gas emissions will surely get us there one day and it is not like that we weren’t close to that future before. This is why the federal and local governments need to adopt Theodore Roosevelt’s beliefs and continue making the world a better place. Green consumerism is enough to save the planet, but, for our benefit, it is essential that everyone participates in eco-friendly shopping, investing, and producing. The industrial world has a duty to provide green products and help reduce their own footprint and CO2 emissions. All businesses need to partake in this green consumerism movement since a lot of consumers are becoming more eco-friendly. If we continue to damage the earth any further, the human race will become an extinct species and every other specimen that lives here. Based off the consumer survey data (referring to notecard 31), as mentioned in the introduction, consumers are happily and willingly ready to take on the green consumerism challenge, which means saving the planet by one eco-friendly shopping cart at a time.
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