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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : March/April 2004 : Lifelines

Lifelines

The Conscious Consumer
New Web site helps consumers who want to shop for a better world.



Americans who found themselves awash in yet another holiday season of mall hopping might want to remember a new Web site that offers an alternative to standard fare—an option that’s badly needed, according to a November 2003 poll commissioned by the Center for a New American Dream and conducted by Widmeyer Research & Polling, Washington, DC. The survey, conducted by the non-profit organization that promotes socially responsible consumption, shows that 62 percent of American consumers said they would like access to socially and environmentally responsible products, while a whopping 71 percent said they would purchase such products if they were easy to find.

Shoppers who want to find environmentally friendly, socially responsible products can check out the Conscious Consumer Web site at www. newdream.org/consumer. It is an ideal destination for the growing number of Americans who want to align their values with their shopping choices. Items such as organic chocolate, fair trade coffee and organic cotton clothing are just clicks away.

“Most of us want products that are a good value, safe for the environment and promote the well-being of the people at the other end of the production line,” said Betsy Taylor, president of the Center for a New American Dream. “But sometimes it seems impossible to find the right thing and often it isn’t even obvious what the right thing is.”

The Conscious Consumer Web site, created by the Center for a New American Dream, offers information containing links to on-line and local sources for goods and services that are better for the planet and the people who live on it. The site is dedicated to helping consumers make a difference in the world through the choices they make in their everyday lives. The center does not sell any products or receive any compensation.

“We know there are plenty of products out there that are produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way,” explained Diane Wood, the center’s executive director. “And there are some green product lists, but nowhere is there a complete package with lists of products explaining the relevant environmental and social factors, the impact you can make by buying them and the in-depth look we give at how some of the everyday products we take for granted impact developing communities.”

This Web site also examines the products we buy, where they come from and the people who make them. Short films from around the world by award-winning documentary filmmakers produced especially for the site introduce the people and communities that manufacture the products we buy. In addition, consumers can find out how and where to recycle just about anything, get info on eco-friendly labeling, and get the scoop on how companies stack up on the environmental and social responsibility scale.

Selected as a Pick of the Week by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Conscious Consumer site was lauded as an alternative to the holiday shopping frenzy. And while this is a newly emerging market, Taylor says that, “Millions of Americans want to shop for a better world. This is a wonderful opportunity to select products that really can bring some joy to the world.”


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