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SHOP Like the Planet's Watching

YREA Presents SHOP Like the Planet’s watching an educational campaign offered free throughout York Region. First presentation is on April 20th at Aurora Public Library.

By Amanda Persico
Apr 18, 2010

Not just the bag

Workshops teach you to become savvy eco-shopper. York Region Environmental Alliance communications co-ordinator Fiona Wood shows a bottle containing the amount of pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals used to produce one regular cotton T-shirt. She is wearing an organically produced cotton shirt. Staff photo/Steve Somerville

Workshops teach you to become savvy eco-shopper.
‘Take the half a second to look beyond the nutrition label and look for the green label, too.’


• WHAT: Seminar hosted by the York Region Environmental Alliance to provide tools to help you green your shopping habits and make planet-friendly choices. Some of the topics discussed at the seminar include: organic clothing, paper products, home renovations, household cleaners and LED technology.

• WHEN: Tuesday, 7 p.m. , at Aurora Public Library, 15145 Yonge St.; April 29, 7 p.m., at Whitchurch-Stouffvillle Public Library, 30 Burkholder St., Stouffville; and May 26,  7 p.m., at Newmarket Public Library, 438 Park Ave.
• REGISTER: To sign up for the sessions, visit yrea.org

• Biologique Canada Organic: National standard For Canadian organic agriculture
• Forest Stewardship Council (FSC): Promotes good forest management practices internationally
• Energy Star: International symbol that identifies most energy-efficient appliances and products
• Ecologo: Certification of environmental stewardship for many consumer products
• Fair Trade: Buying products with this symbol ensures the support of producers and workers in developing countries to earn a decent wage and secure a better standard of living
• Cradle to Cradle or C2C: Refers to a regenerative, holistic approach to product design system
• Total Chlorine Free: Has been whitened using oxygen-based bleaches instead of chlorine
• Processed Chlorine Free: Contains some post-consumer recycled paper that may or may not have been bleached using chlorine in a previous life, but no chlorine has been used this time around
• Elemental Chlorine Free: No pure chlorine gas has been used, but other forms, such as chlorine dioxide have
• Post-consumer percentage: This will tell you how much blue box materials were used in creating the product.

Thinking “green” while shopping takes more than using a reusable bag to cart your groceries home.

It’s more about what’s in the bag than the bag itself.

Beginning this week, the York Region Environmental Alliance hosts a series of seminars and workshops for the eco-shopper dubbed Shop Like the Planet is Watching.

The educational campaign, along with an accompanying publication, aims to demonstrate you can shop in a sustainable fashion.

We will never stop buying things, alliance community programs co-ordinator Fiona Wood says.

“But we can shop like the planet is watching,” she adds. “It’s what you put in that bag that will make a difference.”

The regionwide campaign, which launches at the Aurora Public Library Tuesday, will provide you with helpful tips to on how to shop green, what to buy and what to look for when making a purchase. The workshops will also focus on product labelling and what to look for on packaging.

Being an eco-shopper is about reading the labels, knowing what the symbols mean and knowing how to tell the difference, Ms Wood says.

“We already know how hard it is to shop,” she says. “But take the half a second to look beyond the nutrition label and look for the green label, too.”

Sometimes, green labeling – or green washing – can be confusing for the consumers. In many cases, the recycling logo on a package refers to how much recycled material was used to make the packaging, but it doesn’t include recycled material in the product itself, Ms Wood said.

“It’s about being smart. Just because the label says low fat doesn’t mean it’s sugar-free,” she said. “The Kleenex box was made from recycled products, but not the Kleenex.”

Another aspect of green shopping is the cradle-to-grave philosophy, through which the entire lifecycle of a product is considered.

Buying green doesn’t mean you have to travel to a specialty store, Ms Wood says, as many large retailers are creating their own line of eco-friendly products and organic clothing.

“It’s easier to find green products everywhere. It might cost an extra $2 for something green, but you are helping save the planet,” Ms Wood says.

“Green shopping is about making as many good choices about what you bring home as you can.”

The Shop Like the Planet is Watching booklet, which is printed on paper produced from a managed forest through a waterless mechanical printing method, will be available from the alliance in a few weeks.

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