September is the "Life. Be In It" campaign's Buy Green Month. There is scepticism among consumers about the environmental claims being made for some supermarket products, and an understanding among committed environmentalists that change ultimately needs to be more fundamental than individual buying habits.
Feminists have pointed out that, in a sexist society, green consumerism can have the effect of privatising and burdening women with responsibility for the environment.
Still, the widespread desire remains to buy "greener" products wherever possible. Life. Be In It suggests that consumers be guided by the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Some specific suggestions include:
- Purchase unbleached tissue paper, lavatory and paper products (Choice recommends handkerchiefs and cloth towels and nappies).
- Try to avoid single-use plastic disposable products such as plastic bubble packaging, hamburger boxes, plastic cups, plates, knives, forks, straws.
- When you can, purchase small hardware items from your local store. Items will be provided in a paper bag instead of the plastic blister pack, enabling you to buy the exact amount you require.
Vinegar will do a host of cleaning jobs. It can be used instead of commercial toilet cleaners which contain harsh chemicals. Vinegar will also clean windows and mirrors, mouldy surfaces, vinyl, baths and basins. It will spot clean carpets and remove hard-water encrustation in shower nozzles and kettles.
- Bicarbonate of soda is an effective general purpose cleaner. Mixed to a light paste with water, it will clean baths, sinks and tiles, toilet bowls or laminex. It will also clean the oven and pots and pans, unblock drains and refresh your refrigerator.
- Invest in a string bag for shopping; refuse the plastic carrier bags supermarkets provide.