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Undersecretary Barbara AnthonyPosted by:
Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation

More and more consumers are trying to be environmentally conscious, and companies are following the trend by marketing the “green” nature of their products. But figuring out how green a product is can be tricky.

There are few definitions regarding what makes something “green.” Instead, much of it depends on the consumer and his or her environmental goals. For example, a hybrid car is greener than a SUV. But an electric car is greener than a hybrid, and a bicycle would be greenest of all. So, what’s green enough is in the eyes of the beholder.

If you want to gauge the environmental friendliness of a product, do a little research, and consider the following factors: Is it manufactured and shipped from a local or regional plant, or from farther away? What percentage of the item’s content is recycled, and how easily can be recycled when you’re done with it? Is it durable, or will it need to be replaced regularly? Is the manufacturing low-impact on the environment?

Along with being environmentally conscious, more consumers are considering what they eat. Some join a Community Supported Agriculture program at a local farm. Some are seeking out organic food when shopping. In the area of food, there are some guidelines by the USDA worth knowing.

According to the USDA, something labeled “100 percent organic” uses only organically produced ingredients and processing aids. Something labeled “organic” must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. To be marketed as “made with organic ingredients, a product must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients.

For more, please watch my interview with Susan Wornick on The Boston Channel.

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