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Know the Life Cycle of Your “Green” Purchases?

For any item purchased there is an associated life cycle, which includes impacts along the entire continuum of a product’s life. This is commonly referred to as the cradle-to-grave analysis for a product and includes raw material extraction and processing, manufacturing, distribution and transportation, use, recycle, and ultimately to final disposal. Knowing the life cycle of products brings awareness to potential negative environmental and human health impacts. However, we can empower climate justice by the products and services receiving our vote, which is cast when money is exchanged for that purchase.

From a bottle of water to an electric car, every purchase allows us to make sustainable choices as those choices relate to climate justice, which is all encompassing of environmental justice, racial justice and social justice. Take bottled water provided by Nestle for example, First Nations have no drinking water due to the extraction of millions of liters of water from their Canadian homeland. If we are consciously aware, what prevents us from ensuring we have a water filled reusable bottle as we run off to work or play? Another example is the lithium extraction that is occurring on sacred Indigenous lands here in the U.S under archaic mining laws. Lithium is a main resource used in batteries that power electric vehicles (EV), scooters, smart phones, computers and tablets. Given this insight, should we ask ourselves if buying a new smart phone every two years is really the smart vote to cast, or if that EV is really the way to go?

For a company to be considered “green,” or sustainable, they also must consider the whole life cycle of their products or services. However, don’t be “greenwashed” by those businesses not walking the talk. Greenwashing is when a company purports to be environmentally conscious for marketing purposes but actually isn’t making any notable sustainability efforts. Marketing tactics can be misleading solely with an aim to make a profit, which lacks consideration for people and the planet. As a result, we need to empower ourselves by taking the time to investigate and critically think through the best choices for the “green” product or service we are voting for. And then there is another worthy thought for consideration, do we really need this product or service in the first place?

Our demand for unjust “green” products and services may be the end to someone’s future, and potentially humanity’s. This is definitely worthy of pondering and acting responsibly in spite of the political partisan push and deceptive marketing tactics -because we are smarter than that!

Photo Credit: Markus Spiske


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