City officials offer tips on going green

July 12, 2010 at 2:12 a.m.

As consumers become more conscientious about the earth, more businesses are penetrating the green market.

With more "all-natural" and "organic" labels popping up at local grocery stores, it would seem more greener choices are being made for you. Not so fast.

The green product trend has sparked claims of organic fraud across the globe.

The city of Victoria's Environmental Services Department offered its tips on shopping green. Here's the short list of things to look for: packaging, mileage, ingredients lists and cost.

"Make sure that your packaging is recyclable, reusable or really not there to begin with," said Marie Lester, environmental program coordinator for the city.

Lester burrowed through a handful of packages for products such as coffee koozies and printer cartridges.

It's best to look for products with minimal packaging, Lester said. When shopping for food, that means buying less pre-prepared items. So lining up at the drive-through window isn't the way to go green.

Lester also suggested consumers look at where their product is coming from. The more miles logged in transit, the greater its carbon footprint. So buying goods made in the U.S.A. over, say, a foreign country may cause less harmful emissions in the air.

Shopping for locally grown foods at farmers' markets can help lessen your impact on the environment.

Rachel Brown, the education specialist at the department, recently gave a workshop at Fox Run Apartments on greener living.

The apartments will host a go-green presentation every month, and each presentation will cover a different topic, said Kim Ross, property manager for the apartments.

Interest in these presentations first started as the complex was seeking help with recycling, managing outdoor and indoor air quality and disposal of grease, Ross said.

Some of her tenants who attended were already making more environmentally-conscious decisions such as carpooling and recycling, and they are excited to expand their knowledge, she said.

If you ask Lester and Brown, getting people to go green isn't always easy, but they receive a lot of interest from the community.

"People are thinking about it and hearing about it, so there's interest," Lester said.

People are not always willing to make greener choices because of the perceived expense it brings.

"There are cost factors," Lester said. "Sometimes green products cost more. That's not always true. So if that's a deterrent in whether you're going green or not, look again."

"If you go back to the basics, anyone can go green," Brown added.

Brown recommended that consumers read instructions list when shopping.

"I always go with the easiest thing to read," she said. "I like short ingredients list. The less there is in that product, the better it is for the earth. The less things that are in here that are big, long words that I don't understand, the better it is for the earth."



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