What Does It Take to Be Green?

Earth Day is here and many of us take this opportunity to reflect: “How can I do better?”, “Is this really sustainable or is it greenwashing?”. That’s the modern dilemma in a world where 70% of consumers want to make better choices but are so confused with misinformation, unclear certifications, empty claims, and so on.

Hopefully we’ll all come to the conclusion that there is not such a thing as a perfect product. It all comes with trade-offs. A zero-waste product is not always 100% natural or non-toxic. Those nice vegan-leather shoes from Spain might have a big carbon footprint when sold in the US. According to John Thompson, there are just seven root causes of all environmental problems. Good news is that each can be mitigated through consumer support for market-based solutions to environmental problems.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com
  1. Problem: Deforestation
    Solution: Promoting re-greening and/or avoiding de-greening
  2. Problem: Polluting fuels
    Solution: Utilizing clean energy sources & transportation fuels and/or avoiding polluting energy sources & transportation fuels
  3. Problem: Waste accumulation
    Solution: Repurposing waste streams and/or avoiding waste
  4. Problem: Chemical pollution
    Solution: Using natural chemicals and/or avoiding harmful chemicals
  5. Problem: Fresh water loss
    Solution:Restoring freshwater resources and/or avoiding freshwater loss
  6. Problem: Soil destruction
  7. Solution: Generating or restoring topsoil and/or avoiding topsoil destruction
  8. Problem: Public ignorance
  9. Solution: Promoting and/or providing environmental education

This year, to celebrate Earth Day, we’re inviting green businesses to be side by side in one place – the Atlanta Green Market Fair. But wait, what does green mean? It means those businesses comply with at least one of the criteria above. And on top of that, they are ALL local, which, you know, boosts the local economy and mitigates transportation emissions. We are hoping to tackle consumer education too, with over 12 hours of environmental programming throughout the day. Got kids? They will have fun with natural face painting and STEM activities 🙂

What we can do as a supportive community of green-consumers is show up and support these businesses that choose a better way of doing things. By buying green, your purchase sends a signal to the marketplace that there is consumer demand for sustainable products and services–right here in Atlanta, Georgia. The organizers are doing their part to advance this message through an event impact report that will tell the story of Atlanta’s green-consumer fervor. 

Who knows? Perhaps this can be the start of something bigger – something that will inspire green businesses to go greener and entice polluting businesses to think differently. Maybe it can communicate that what’s sustainable for the planet can be profitable for business. And, we hope it can show that large-scale events can be done better too. As part of the event impact report, we’ll be publishing how much waste was diverted from the landfill via careful planning by our vendors, partners (shout out to CHaRM and Compost Now) and by the concerted efforts of our volunteers, and, well…you!

Earth Day should be indeed every day, but dedicating a full day to reflect about those issues and, most importantly, working on solutions, could come a long way.

This post was written with the contribution of Atlanta Green Fair founder and organizer Tyler Thompson.

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