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Living Green – What’s It Mean to Be Green?

With Earth Day being tomorrow I felt inspired to write about a related topic.

It seems that living green is becoming all the rave lately. I’m beginning to see it everywhere. On Good Morning America last week they talked about how there are 17 pesticides found in a single jar of mainstream baby food and then had a discussion about how you should feed your baby organic baby food. They even pointed out that pesticides are carcinogenic and a powerful neurotoxin.

A couple months ago, Oprah had a whole show about using environmentally friendly cleaning products, eating organic and other important things you can do to be green. On my evening news they frequently high light green businesses and discuss environmental toxins, organic foods and other related topics. A few weeks ago I watched my favorite weatherman, Garth Kemp, host a show that highlighted green businesses all throughout the Los Angeles area. He covered absolutely every avenue in regard to living green.

My local grocery store now carries an entire line of their own organic products and most of the name brand products are beginning to produce their own organic line as well. We actually see commercials on TV for organic foods, personal care products and many other green product lines.

Now as someone who’s been living green for 19 years this makes me very excited. When I first started down this path all those years ago, it was almost unheard of. Everyone thought I was weird and a radical. At that time it was a really big deal if the local grocery story would be willing to order a few bags of organic carrots. I had to drive an hour and a half to shop an organic grocery store. Now you can find them all over the place.

It’s absolutely fantastic that we are making so much progress. However I’m also seeing a very disappointing and worrisome trend. Since it’s now become “cool” or “chic” to be green, marketers and big corporations have realized that there is money to be made in this growing niche and they are taking advantage of it.

Many people are slapping an organic label on products that are not truly organic. Personal care and household products slap a label on their product and then call it their environmentally friendly or green line, when the truth is that it really isn’t any safer than their line that isn’t green.

A lot of these businesses are not truly abiding by the rules and regulations that make a food organic or a product environmentally friendly. Wal Mart, for example, has been caught many times violating organic standards in their organic line.

Let’s take Whole Foods Market as another example. People think because they’re called Whole Foods Market that when they shop there they’re getting healthier food. Well that may or may not be the case. They carry a lot of foods that aren’t organic and a lot of their products are loaded with sugar. Sugar is not healthy. It’s also important to remember that junk food is still junk food, whether it’s organic or not.

I recently read about a Whole Foods Market in New Mexico that continues to spray toxic pesticides outside around the perimeter of it’s building and yet boasts that they are an “organic” store. They argued that since they weren’t spraying it inside that they were “organic”. Well this tells us that they do not truly value the standards of organic or “green living” at all. If they did, they wouldn’t be using pesticides anywhere. When you spray a pesticide outside the building, it travels through the air and into the store. It is also tracked into the store on your shoes. Pesticides that are carried indoors on shoes then become even more potent and toxic than it was outside. If Whole Foods is engaging in this practice in New Mexico then it is probably occurring in all their locations.

I use to shop at Trader Joes, but I kept getting very sick every time I went there and I smelled pesticides on my groceries when they came home. I called the store and asked them if they use pesticides in the store and he said no we don’t. After I pressured him a little further he then admitted, “yes we do use them, but we only spray them underneath the meat counter and coolers.” I stopped shopping there.

The health food store where I do the majority of my shopping called Clarks in Palm Springs was also spraying outside the perimeter of their building. It was drifting in the store and was all over my grocery bags. I called them and explained how important it was for an organic health food store to actually live by organic standards and fortunately they were open minded enough to hear me and stopped using them. However, after a few months they sprayed again. I called them again and had the same conversation I had with them before. They told me there was a miscommunication problem with their pest control company and the matter would be taken care of immediately.

I have two health food stores in my own area of Joshua Tree CA that I don’t shop at because they practice pesticide use.

Another example is a variety of services and businesses calling themselves green such as green hotels and green vacations etc. Yes, this is really a great idea and badly needed, however a variety of such places call themselves green because they use energy saving light bulbs and recycle. On the other hand the hotel or vacation destination sprays toxic pesticides all over the living quarters.

Pesticides and herbicides are a potent neurotoxin, carcinogen and endocrine disruptor. The ramifications of this reckless practice on our health is nothing short of profound and one of the biggest environmental health concerns we face. There is nothing more harmful to the environment and human health than pesticides and herbicides. It is absurd to think that it is acceptable to continue this practice and still label yourself as green or organic.

Learn more about pesticides and your health.

So unfortunately what we see happening here is that many people have hopped on the “organic” or “green” bandwagon only because it is a way to make money. Even people who think they are being green are not aware of what it truly means. This results in a lowering of standards and quality that exposes us to food, products and environments that aren’t really good for us and a demeaning of the true meaning of living green.

To truly be green involves much more than lip service. It’s a value with very high standards and expectations. It is a highly regarded value that is integrated deeply into who you are and every aspect of your life.

For those of us who hold this value close to our heart, we must remind others adopting the green label of what these standards are and hold them accountable for living up to them. We also must be very aware and vigilant consumers.

Have a Beautiful Earth Day and Read These Green Living Tips for More Great Ideas

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