Debra's List Debra Lynn Dadd

Consumer Guides

Here you'll find links that give background information that can help you make good decisions when choosing products. They include buying guides and independent reviews, as well as information on how products are made and health and environmental effects.

The Story of Stuff
WATCH THIS! An excellent 20-minute animated video that shows how our consumer choices affect the environment through each stage of the lifecycle--extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal. There's not much about the good things one can do, but it's a very clear presentation of WHY we should be buying green.
Consumer Reports Greener Choices
The respected magazine brings their critical eye to green products on this website. While they don't list many products, they do evaluate many environmental claims, explain issues, and make recommendations for choosing products. You'll find articles like a comparison of alternative fuels for cars, or dry cleaning alternatives, each focused around assessing your needs, making the right choice, getting the most value, why it matters, what government and industry are doing, and how to read the labels. At this writing, there are only a limited number of articles, but these are worth reading if they are the products you are looking for.
Cradle to Cradle Certification
Product certification program based on William McDonough & Michael Braungart's book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (I studied this book quite thoroughly and highly recommend it--though I don't always agree with everything it says! The important thing is that the authors and I agree that we must develop ways of providing for our human needs in ways that expand good for all life rather than being less bad, and they explain just how they propose manufacturers can do that. This book is written for the business community, but applies to consumers as well, as we all need to make this change together.) This program evaluates products on the basis of using environmentally safe and healthy materials; design for material reutilization, such as recycling or composting; the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency; efficient use of water, and maximum water quality associated with production; and instituting strategies for social responsibility. The website includes their evaluation checklist and a small list of certified products (mostly office and building products). It's good to take a look at this to see their approach.
Use this site to decipher and keep up-to-date on all the different terms and logos being used on product labels to designate green products. All have neatly organized and defined here by Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. Over to the left side of the page, look for the "Search by Label" box. There you can enter the name of a specific logo or descriptive term. Click on "search by logo" and you will get pictures of logos. Click on "View Label Index" for an alphabetical list of terms and logos. Both lists are linked to detailed information pages that tell everything from what the term or logo means to if and how it is regulated. See "How to Use This Site" for more tips. A very informative site that every consumer should visit.
EPA Design for the Environment Program
Works "with individual industry sectors to compare and improve the performance and human health and environmental risks and costs of existing and alternative products, processes, and practices." Partnership projects in the fields of adhesives, automotive refinishing, chemical formulation, computer display, garment & textile care, industrial & institutional laundry, lead-free solder, nail salons, printed wiring board, various types of printing, and integrated environmental management systems "promote integrating cleaner, cheaper, and smarter solutions into everyday business practices". Files on these subjects give good data on what to look for when choosing products within these industries and offer to companies you do business with.
Fabulously Green
A blog that "reports on the latest eco-friendly products that blend style, sustainability and social responsibility." The operative word here is style, and definately eco-modern. If you're looking for a green cleaner or natural fiber bed, you won't find it here, but you will find fashion, furniture, dinnerware and trendy green things that catch the blogger's eye.
The Green Guide
The Green Guide has an abundance of background information on the health and environmental effects of our consumer products. Their website has articles from past issues of their magazine. You'll find green home tips, product reviews and environmental health updates.
Green Seal
"Green Seal is an independent, non-profit organization that strives to achieve a healthier and cleaner environment by identifying and promoting products and services that cause less toxic pollution and waste, conserve resources and habitats, and minimize global warming and ozone depletion...evaluations are based on state-of-the-art science and information using internationally recognized methods and procedures. Thus, Green Seal provides credible, objective, and unbiased information whose only purpose is to direct the purchaser to environmentally responsible products and services." Their work includes development of environmental standards for products in specific categories and certification of products that meet these standards. Their Choose Green Reportson products in a variety of categories give specific brand recommendations for those products meeting the criteria. Throughout Debra's List I've put links to their standards under the "Resources" heading, for products appropriate to household use.
Has product certification programs which recommends products that improve indoor air. They currently have three programs: GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified® (for low emitting interior building materials, furnishings, and finish systems), GREENGUARD for Children & SchoolsSM (for low emitting interior building materials, furnishings, and finish systems used in educational (daycare and K-12) environments), and GREENGUARD for Building ConstructionSM (for newly constructed multifamily and commercial properties that follow best practice guidelines for preventing mold during the design, construction and ongoing operations). All GREENGUARD Certified Products have been tested for their chemical emissions performance according to specific emissions standards given on the website. A good place to check when you are looking for building and interior products.
Household Products Database
A user-friendly guide to health and safety information on a long list of brand-name household products. Information about the ingredients used in these products, their potential health effects and safety and handling is taken from a variety of publicly available sources-- including brand-specific labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) prepared by manufacturers--and arranged in an easy to use format that can be searched by product, ingredient, or MSDS Sheet. Created by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health & Human Services.
This site contains a lot of information about how our consumer choices affect the environment, presented in ways that are easy to view and understand. Check out their "What's the Deal" section, and in particular "Know Your Stuff" which has slideshows of how some common products are made.
Ideal Bite
This free email newsletter delivers a daily tip for eco-living with a smile. Short, sweet, and sassy, each tip gives a simple thing you can do and a handful of related links. Occasionally, you'll be asked your opinion as a subscriber, giving you the opportunity to send valuable feedback to green product manufacturers.
Organic Consumers Association
The only organization in the United States focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of organic and socially responsible consumers. While the don't list organic products, they make the organic marketplace possible by dealing with "crucial issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children's health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability and other key topics." If you want to know details of who is doing what in the world of organic products, what the problems are and how you can participate the the political aspects of supporting healthy and eco-friendly products, this is where to find it.
Red Jellyfish
A light and lively website with all kinds of resources for natural living and environmental awareness, including some links to green products. The site is powered by 100% wind energy using green credits.
A state-by-state listing of local reuse centers where you can take items you no longer want for reuse by others, or find something something someone else has donated that you can reuse.
Sustainable Cotton Project
A clearinghouse of information on organic cotton for growers, manufacturers and consumers. Learn all about how organic cotton is grown and why it's important. Includes many links for more information.
Worldwatch "Good Stuff?"
A simple, easy-to-read guide to the environmental and social impacts of common products we buy and use. Contains tips, facts, and links to help you start making more informed purchases that benefit your health and the environment. Plus all the other in-depth research on the environmental effects of our consumer culture that Worldwatch is famous for.

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