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10 Ways to SHIFT $300 Billion for the Planet

For Earth Day, Green America Urges Americans to Take 'the Green Economy Challenge'

WASHINGTON - Green America today called on all Americans to
take "The Green Economy Challenge" to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of
Earth Day. 

The Green Economy Challenge asks all
American households to shift 10 percent of their current spending to
green purchases. American households spend approximately $3 trillion per
year on expenditures that could easily be greened.  If Americans
directed just one tenth of these expenditures to purchasing from a green
or local business, it would steer $300 billion towards more sustainable

"Going green saves money, creates
jobs, and supports local communities.  Green is the new red, white and
said Green America Executive Director Alisa Gravitz.  "One
thing all Americans can do to help the environment on Earth Day and
everyday is to direct their money towards greener purchases."

Gravitz said: "By ‘green' we mean
products that are good for both people and the planet. Shifting
purchases to green is often surprisingly easy to do, and what may also
surprise people is that buying green often saves money, which is on the
minds of so many households during the recession. Going green saves
money, creates jobs, and supports local communities."   


1. Borrow, Trade or Buy Used: 
The greenest thing consumers can do is to not buy new things at all. 
You can find books, cds and movies (including the latest bestsellers)
for free at the local library.  People across the country are setting up
clothing swaps to give away old clothes and get "new" ones in return. 
Online services like Craigslist, Freecycle and Ebay make it easy to find
quality used goods locally and nationally, including first-rate used
furniture that is often higher quality than new.  Green America has more
resources available at:

2. Grow Your Own Food: 
When you plant your own garden you can ensure that your food is organic
and healthy, and since there is no transportation involved, there are no
climate change emissions.  You'll also save money and you can spend
time with family in the garden. A recent National Gardening Association
study found that the average family spends $70 a year on maintaining a
vegetable garden, and grows about $600 worth of produce. When you sit
down to eat your harvest, pour some delicious Fair Trade or organic wine
or beer to go along with it. When you do shop for food, look for local,
organic and Fair Trade CertifiedTM products.  If you can't find them,
ask your supermarket to stock them.  Green America has more resources
available at

3. Green Your Energy at Home:
Start with energy efficiency: using less energy is the best way to
green your power consumption - and enjoy big savings. There are many
simple actions you can take.

  • Switch your incandescent
    lightbulbs to energy-saving compact fluorescents (CFLs) or LEDs: both
    save energy and money. If each home in America replaced one bulb with an
    Energy Star CFL, it would save enough energy to light 3 million homes
    for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from
    800,000 cars. Also, make sure to turn off lights you are not using.
  • Air dry your clothes
    instead of using a dryer: it's better for the planet and your clothes.
  • Unplug toasters,
    televisions and small appliances that draw electricity even when they're
    turned off, or use a smart power strip to fully cut electricity to
    appliances you turn off. 
  • Get a home energy audit to
    find ways to use energy more efficiently and save money.
  • Once you've reduced your
    energy usage, green the energy you use by adding solar power or wind
    power to your home.  Federal and state tax rebates make it affordable to
    add green power to your home, and in many places, you can sell power
    back to the utility.

Green America has more resources available

4. Give Your Car a Break:
If only 1 percent of car owners in the US did not drive for one day a
week, we would save an estimated 42 million gallons of gas per year and
keep 840 million pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere.  Less driving
means savings on gas, and less wear and tear - and you can qualify for
lower auto insurance rates.  Instead of driving to do errands, consider
walking or riding a bike, both of which are great exercise. Green
America has more resources available at:

5. Buy Used, Organic, or
Sweat-free Clothes:
Many clothes are made from cotton treated
with pesticides, dyed in harsh chemicals, and then assembled in
sweatshops.  Cotton accounts for more than 10 percent of the world's
pesticide use and nearly 25 percent of the world's insecticide use.
Instead of buying clothes at the mall, you can buy stylish clothes at
thrift and resale shops, and purchase new clothes that are
sweatshop-free, organic, and/or Fair Trade. Plus, if you buy natural
fibers, you can save on dry cleaning. The typical dry cleaning bill for a
dress or suit is three times more than the cost of the garment - and
you avoid exposure to toxic dry cleaning chemicals.  Green America has
more resources available at:

6. Buy Organic and Fair Trade
Personal Care Products:
Make-up and body care products have
been linked to allergic reactions, birth defects, and even cancer.  In
addition, many products contain oils and extracts that are harvested and
produced in a way that harms the environment and exploits workers. 
Look for organic and Fair Trade body care products instead.  Green
America has more resources available at:

7. Buy Green Home Products: Household
cleaners, paints and stains, furniture, carpets, and many other items
contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which have been linked to
cancer, endocrine disruption, and eye irritants.  Instead, make your own
cleaners from safe, household ingredients or purchase green cleaning
products. You can also purchase no-VOC carpets, paints and stains, and
furniture.  Green America has more resources available at:

8. Support Local Green Businesses: 
Spending money at locally owned businesses keeps more money in your
community, with some research demonstrating over three times as much
money staying in the community, and a growing number of local businesses
are going green. Instead of chains, eat out at locally-owned
restaurants (a growing number of which are sourcing local and organic
meats and produce).  Purchase foods, books, clothes and furnishings at
locally-owned stores and co-ops. Support local musicians and artists at
locally owned performance spaces in your town.  Green America can help
you find local green businesses at,
which has a zipcode search.

9. With the Money You Save, Invest
in a Greener Future: 
A growing number of Americans are
investing for their future; while doing so, they can also invest in a
better future for the planet. You can invest in socially responsible
mutual funds that earn competitive returns and promote corporate
responsibility.  You can also put your savings into community
development banks and credit unions that invest in jobs, housing and
social services in local communities.  Green America has more resources
available at:

10. Turn to Green America's National
Green Pages
TM to get started
.  Start greening your
purchases everyday by using the National Green PagesTM (, the largest
listing of business in the US screened for their social and
environmental responsibility.  The National Green PagesTM has
thousands of green products and services, including:

  • Seeds and organic gardening
  • Organic and Fair Trade
    chocolates, coffee, rice and spices
  • Energy-saving lightbulbs
    and smart power strips
  • Sustainably produced
    clothes drying racks
  • Energy audit firms
  • Solar and wind power sales
    and installations
  • Bicycles and electric
  • Green roadside assistance
    for bicycles and cars
  • Organic, sweatfree, and
    Fair Trade clothes for women, men and kids
  • Organic and Fair Trade body
    care products
  • Green cleaners
  • Green paints and stains
  • Sustainably-produced
    furniture and carpets
  • Green restaurants and
    coffee shops
  • Local zip code finder -
    find green businesses near you
  • Socially responsible mutual
  • Community development banks
    and credit unions
  • Socially responsible
    financial planners.


Green America determined how much money
Americans households could direct to green spending by first using US
Department of Labor statistics from 2009 to determine how much the
average US household spends on various purchases.  Green America then
determined which of these purchases could be wholly or partly "greened"
in the short term (in the long term all purchases can be greened), as
detailed in the chart below:




Easily Greened?

Food at Home




Food Away From Home




Alcoholic beverage
















Personal Care












Household Furnishings




Housekeeping supplies




Household operations




Utilities, fuels, public services




















Cash Contributions












Green America determined that the amount
of expenditures available to be easily greened for the average household
is $25,324, representing 51 percent of total expenditures. If, on
average, the average American household "greened" ten percent of the
expenditures that can easily be greened, it would account for $2,532.37
per household.

The US Census estimates that there are
114,825,428 households in the US.  Therefore the entire amount spent by
all American households is nearly $3 trillion that could easily be
"greened," and if 10 percent of that were greened, it would represent
$300 billion. By shifting to green products and services, many locally
produced, American's will not only be creating a greener world, but also
creating more jobs and keeping more money in their local communities. 


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Green America is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1982 and known until January 1, 2009 as "Co-op America."  Green America’s mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.

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