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What Is 'Green Consumption?'
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Green, a symbol of life, good health, and vigor, is also a color that reminds us of hope. All around the globe, the word is associated with energy conservation and environmental protection.


The term “green consumption” covers a full range of activities in both production and consumption fields, including green products, the recycling of materials, the efficient use of energy, the protection of the environment, and the preservation of species.


Specialists of environmental protection have agreed upon a definition of green consumption as the five “Rs”: reduce, reevaluate, reuse, recycle, and rescue. In China, however, another definition emerged in the new millennium.


According to the Chinese, green consumption is a principle with three implications. Under this principle, people are encouraged to choose green products that are unpolluted or good for public health, wastes are to be treated under special surveillance to avoid pollution, and public understanding of consumption is to be changed so as to raise people’s awareness of a healthy lifestyle, environmental protection, and energy conservation in their pursuit of a comfortable life. The ultimate goal is to achieve sustainable consumption in the country. Besides our own demands for consumption, safety, and health, we should also take the needs of our descendants into consideration.


Facts and Figures of Green Products


At present, around 200 Chinese enterprises, 40 sectors, and 500 products have passed the environmental labeling certification. Half of the labeled products are closely related to people’s daily necessities. They include ecological textiles, soft drinks, paper tableware, refrigerators, color TVs, computers, microwave ovens, air-conditioners, detergents, dry batteries, manmade floorboards, paints, pesticides, toilet paper, energy-saving lights, children’s toys, and motor bicycles.


Benefits of Green Products


Environmentally friendly and pollution free, green products inflict less harm to the environment and are good for public health. Meanwhile, they are easy to recover and treat after use.


Specifically speaking, however, what are the benefits of green products to our daily life? This may be a difficult question to answer. According to industry insiders, China now boasts nearly 500 varieties of certified green products. Based on their functions in environmental protection, these products are divided into six categories.


1. Products that can help China fulfill its commitment in international conventions: In order to curb pollution worldwide, a series of international conventions on environmental protection have been signed in recent years. China played an active role in the signature of these conventions. In June 1991, China joined the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer and committed to phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by two steps before 2000 and 2010. Representative products of this category include freon-free refrigerators and environmentally friendly aerosol insecticides.


2. Products that can be recovered and recycled: Reusing waste can save resources and cut down pollution by a large margin. In comparison to raw materials, waste is also more energy-efficient and can cause less pollution. A case in point is the papermaking industry, with representative products like recycled paper and recycled plastics.


3. Products that can improve the regional environment: Some products, such as disposable meal boxes and phosphorus washing powders, will lead to regional environmental pollution, while in comparison, degradable plastics, phosphorus-free washing powders, mercury-free cells, and other green products can effectively cut down the pollution to local surroundings.


4. Products that can improve the housing environment: With the development of the Chinese economy, Chinese consumers are growing more mature. They now pay more attention to the environment of their houses. Air quality and noise volume are two major gauges to evaluate the housing environment. Therefore, when purchasing furniture and home appliances, consumers tend to choose those with good performance in these fields. Washing machines with low noise and compound floorboards with low formaldehyde content are representatives of such products.


5. Products that are good for human health: These products now attract more attention from consumers, because, for example, telecommunication devices, TVs, and PCs are believed to be harmful to our body through radiation and the dyes in garments may lead to cancer when they are absorbed by our skin. Green products in this category usually boast state-of-the-art technologies. On the forefront of fashion and development, they will gradually take the place of traditional products.


6. Products that can enhance the efficiency of resources and energies: In the advent of technological revolution in the fields of resource and energy, people are working hard to develop energy-saving products and enhance the efficiency of resources and energy. Energy-saving computers and energy-saving lights are included in this category.


(China.org.cn September 12, 2007)

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